The Matterhorn in Wellington is a place I've been hearing about on and off for over ten years now. With Mr K being a born and bred Kiwi growing up in Wellington I've often heard the stories when his mum used to take him and his sisters into town where she could sit and have a coffee while the young ones ordered dessert. A Mexican Hat. The description of this dessert is always a little vague but what I can gather it had a small round base topped with a chocolate-filled cone and somehow it resembled a hat. Mr K's older sister still remembers the great sausage rolls she used to have on school holidays when they met their dad for lunch when he'd duck out of the office. Who would have thought that thirty years later I would be lunching in the same Matterhorn that they did back in the late 70's.
The owners may have changed since then along with the style of food but as soon as you walk in you can see that the modernist bones of the place have been retained. Bare concrete, clean horizontal and vertical lines, light wells and lots of glass. In a simple way it's really quite beautiful and I love the dark nook on the upper level with its wood panel walls. The traditional lunch cafe that served up sausage rolls and Mexican hats has clearly moved on to more comtemporary fare, judging by the $35 Dine Wellington 2010 set menu that was on offer for the festival.
Hosted by Ania and Angela, both of Positively Wellington Tourism, our Sydney blogger contingent joined three NZ bloggers Andrea, Laura and Millie for a civilised and relaxed lunch that included some beautiful Ata Rangi Celebre from the Martinborough wine region just north of Wellington. This is what I'm loving about these great set menu's. The fantastic local vino that comes with!
Once we were all settled it didn't take long before bowls of glistening olives topped with Reggiano shortbread were spread over the table as well as a white bean and lemon puree with pita crisps. The spring onion relish crowning the dip was lovely.
One of the starters, the carpaccio of yellow tail kingfish with rhubarb, grapefruit & ginger buckwheat was fresh and light as a feather. The terrine of braised wild rabbit was just as light and melded well with the carrot & cardamom custard, soused shitake and spear of candied carrot.
I was craving a bit of red meat so for the main I chose the wagyu skirt steak with red wine onions, celeriac remoulade & parsley salad. Aside from a few bits of grissle I found the meat succulent and relatively tender and the strips of celeriac wedged to one side cut through the richness.
The crayfish basmati in risotto style with prawns, fennel and lemon was delicious and heavy in beautiful seafood flavours. I didn't get a taste of the fennel but I'm sure it went perfectly with its cool aniseed crunch.
For a business that has changed hands over the years yet retained its place in the relaxed and contemporary Wellington food scene, the Matterhorn really has something to say through its honest and innovative food. Next time I'm in town I'll definitely be back, especially to try that twice baked gorgonzola soufflé I saw on the regular lunch menu.
hnf dined at Matterhorn as a guest of Positively Wellington Tourism for Wellington On a Plate (WOAP)Matterhorn106 Cuba StreetWellington 6011+64 4 384 3359Open 7 days 10am-latematterhorn.co.nz. Other posts from my Wellington On a Plate experience: