Wellington: Logan Brown

I’m going to start off by declaring that the meal I had with my friends at Logan Brown during the Labour long weekend was my best meal for 2011. Although we have yet to reach the end of the year, but it is safe to say that Logan Brown was so exceptional at every aspect of our meal, it is unlikely that any other restaurant can change my ranking. I hope you are all prepared for my endless praising.

Logan Brown is opened by Al Brown and Steve Logan in 1996 and is located inside a revamped 1920s bank chamber on Cuba Street in central Wellington (sorry Aucklanders). The high ceiling and interesting decor creates a stylish yet relaxed environment that resembles more like a bistro rather than a fine dining restaurant. This environment was perfect for us as our gossiping and laughter tends to stand out in a quiet dining room. We were greeted by a lovely waitress that sat us at a comfy booth as we picked our feast from the menu. Logan Brown offers three different menus – a three course bistro menu where tables must be vacated by 7:30pm, six course degustation on Saturday nights and a la carte. We felt like splurging while having control of what we ate so we decided on the a la carte.

Our meal started with an amuse-bouche (a fancy term for the free bite-sized hors d’oeuvre that restaurants offer to its patrons) which is a smoked fish pannacotta with fish flakes and sprouts. The taste of the smoke fish flakes were pungent and the pannacotta had a smooth texture and when combined together, it worked very well. Normally, I would not have ventured and tried fish pannacotta, but this hors d’oeuvre illustrated the skills of the chef as the combination was fantastic.

For entrees, we ordered the seared hare loin with a garlic custard tart and chicken livers, wagyu skirt with smoked eggplant and waygu hash and the whitebait with leeks, asparagus and duck ham. All three dishes were phenomenal. The hare loin was moist and perfectly cooked and worked well with the garlic custard. The wagyu skirt was bloody and juicy, which is the best way to have steak. The best part would have to be the whitebait. I love whitebait and not many restaurants serve them, so whenever I see it available on the menu, I order it. Logan Brown serves the whitebait slightly fried so it has a crispy texture on the outside but because the whitebait was plump, the inside was still soft. I don’t think I ever tasted such delicious whitebait. The oil did not overpower the taste and they serve a generous amount. It was outstanding.

Normally, after having such marvelous entrees, the mains never seem to meet our expectations (i.e. The Grill and White House Restaurant). This was not the case. My friends both ordered the lamb rack with braised belly and cauliflower cheese. As you can tell by the picture, the lamb rack was perfectly cooked  and still slightly red on the inside. The taste of the lamb was not overpowered by the sauce and had great texture. The cauliflower cheese received a lot of praise from my friends. As I had a seafood main, I decided to get the beef fillet with onion rings and a steamed BBQ bun. The idea of a steamed bun was different but it was really nice. It’s different from the traditional Chinese BBQ buns that I am used to and the spicy meat inside the bun was a nice surprise. The steak was fantastic – juicy, perfectly cooked and flavoursome. We had the wagyu fat potatoes with chili mayonnaise which were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

For dessert, we had the cardamon and rose water pannacotta, lime and ginger brulee with sour lemonade sorbet and the chocolate and caramel torte with an expresso milkshake. The cardamon taste was slight strong for me but the pistachio crisps were yummy. The brulee was not too rich and the sorbet added a nice fresh contrast. The chocolate and caramel torte was luxurious but not overly sweet. The expresso milkshake with little pieces of hazelnut was a good compliment. A great end to our meal.

So after the long review, you can see why I decided that Logan Brown served my best meal for 2011. A relaxed environment where the service was quick with attentive staff that made sure our glasses (both wine and water) were constantly filled. The meals were of good portion with no pretentious presentation and just purely fantastic food. Great flavours and first-class cooking skills. Nothing was overcooked and everything was perfect. These are the reasons why Logan Brown is considered one of the top restaurants in Wellington. It is worth the visit for anyone visiting Wellington, and if I could, I would fly down just to have a meal there.

Date: Sunday 23rd October, 2011 | Location: Cnr of Cuba Street & Vivian Streets, Wellington CBD | Food: Contemporary New Zealand Cuisine

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