The closure of Newtown’s Spencer Guthrie late last year left us with one less eatery on the every-changing south end of King Street. When old doors close, new ones open, so it didn’t take long before the narrow space was stripped and a new one emerged.
At first glance, the name Bach gives the impression of a classical composer from the Baroque period; but those that are familiar with a certain piece of New Zealand architecture have another thing in their minds.
The bach is a small holiday or beach house. A shabby dwelling made from wood panels, fibro or corrugated iron; with a drop toilet out the back and the rolling surf just metres away. Although, some of the new ones are a tad jaw-dropping.
Owners Darrien and Philippa Potaka have created their own type of bach where one can step off bustling King Street and escape to a chilled place offering booze, food and a cosy atmosphere.
A bit of a change for Darrien, considering he was previously executive chef at Bistro Moncur and Bar 333; and those that remember Level 41, he was Dietmar Sawyere’s right hand man.
A visit to New Zealand without coming across Monteith’s beer would be a rarity, so seeing the brew at The Bach is another sign that the owners are fellow antipodeans. And as for the wine list, well, you could probably guess where most of the wines come from. There’s even L&P for those that like it fizzy, sugary and alcohol-free.
Food-wise, it’s evident that Darrien is behind the menu creation. It may be a tightly edited collection of edibles, but it’s in dishes like the 16-hour slow cooked lamb shoulder (20) that his French techniques shine through. In fact, it was the first thing we smelled as soon as we stepped over the imprinted “Good Times” threshold.
Juicy, melting and loaded with richness; the two blocks of lamb are complemented by carrot purée and brussels sprouts treated in two ways.
There are a bunch of small bites designed for nibbling with drinks: such as oysters, charcuterie and prawn & pea arancini (4). The prawn may not have shined through a great deal in the golden little orbs, but a faint hint of crab bisque did in the aïoli.
There’s a celebration of textures in the beet & heirloom carrot salad (14); all tangled with greenery, fried carrot, hazelnuts, ricotta and parsnip purée.
A slow-cooked egg sits camouflaged by a snow of parmesan in the pappardelle with broad bean velouté (18). Nice, simple flavours with pasta that’s flecked with broccoli. Pity the yolk was on the firm side and didn’t contribute much to coating the pappardelle.
The desserts are limited to a few choices, plus a cheese board for the fromage fans amongst us. The hokey pokey brûlée (10) drew us in immediately because, well, it’s only the Kiwi’s that do the hokey pokey thing.
It’s usually added to ice cream, but the honeycomb element is used to garnish the brûlée here in The Bach. Nice, thick sugary crust over a deliciously silky custard.
So get your jandals on and drop by the Bach, bro, and no need to bring the chilly bin!