Capitol opposite of punishment
With a couple of family birthdays taking place over the holidays, January was a good time to assemble for dinner together. Having dined at Capitol before (in fact, it’s been nominated for TAWAs multiple times), I wasn’t put off by its Flash website or that they don’t take bookings for groups smaller than eight.
As it happens, I was only the second person in the restaurant on a Thursday around 6pm. I order a Negroni (which comes on the rocks rather than at a martini glass), and peruse the simple menu. The place quickly filled up and the chatter makes it quite loud, especially given one group has chosen to bring along a toddler who decides to scream for a while (*Insert standard rant about how kids probably don’t belong in small restaurants where mains are over $30*).
Still, the staff are attentive, and our water glasses kept nice and full, and brought us our wine pretty quickly. We decided to order four entrees for the six of us – the pea ravioli with buttered artichokes (deliciously buttery and perfect pasta), the fried squid with aioli (crispy and not at all rubbery) and two servings of the ricotta-stuffed zuchini flowers with smoked eggplant and pancetta. OH. MY. STARS!
These were amazing, crispy, salty, creamy, smokey, so many things going on and working in beautiful harmony together. A little pricey for the amount on the plate at $22.50, but worth every penny. Capitol portions really aren’t large, and the sides aren’t very exciting, but it does mean it’s easy to eat three courses. So we moved on to mains.
The pappardelle with rabbit, veal, broad beans and sage ragu was luscious, rich with flavour and chunks of unctuous meat that melted in the mouth.The pappardelle was cooked perfectly, and oh, I could just eat plates and plates and plates of this all day. In fact, I was so preoccupied with it that I forgot to steal mouthfuls of my companions’ dishes, but they were well-pleased with their steak (served with lentils, which made me laugh), duck and pork.
Desserts were hard to choose, but I decided after the richness of the ragu that I would go for something a little lighter than the soft-centred chocolate pudding. Lemon mousse was light and zingy, perfectly contrasted with the berry compote served alongside it. Again, portions were small for $14.50, but perfectly formed. All up, our bill was around $540 for drinks, three bottles of wine, five entrees, five mains and six desserts. Not a cheap night, but it was lovely nevertheless!
Capitol’s food is fairly simple, but put together beautifully. The space is small, but the toilets smell amazing (like cinnamon) and the staff have the right balance between friendly and professional. It’d be a great place to have a date, or a family get-together – just leave the toddlers at home please.
Food looks smashing, but I keep getting distracted by the changes from present to past tense.
Also, “unctuous” meat? Really?
I apologise for the jumping around tenses, I think I was trying to suggest the differences between the consistency I’ve always experienced at Capitol and that particular visit (and obviously failed), but I did most definitely mean unctuous.
Why would the notion of a negroni in a martini glass even occur to you? If that happened to me I would probably laugh awkwardly and politely ask for it to be put in a tumbler where it belongs. Thankfully the man at Capitol knows his onions.
Why would the notion of a negroni in a martini glass even occur to you?
Oh, no particular reason.
You take cocktail advice from these people?
I take cocktail advice from the McKenzies.
Very wise. They undoubtedly know much more about cocktails than me. But I’d still like them to make me a negroni in a tumbler. I mean, you’d never see an Italian fellow sitting on the terrace of his local bar having his after-office negroni in a cocktail glass. It’s just not right.
The rocks version is the one in standard American bar manuals, but the up version has a long history, and I don’t know if anyone knows for sure whether the original Italian one was up or not. Each seems to be valid, though the down version would be mellower and the up version more for those who really want to taste the Campari.
The only way I’ve ever been served a negroni in Cuckoo or Hawthorn has certainly been in a tumbler with ice. Johnny knows what’s what. The only time I’ve ever been served a negroni up was at Matterhorn, but they were honest about it (they also made it 1/2 campari and 1/4 1/4 ratios, which flummoxed me somewhat)
The Negroni is an adaptation of the Americano (italian vermouth, campari, soda) which is served short over ice. Count Negroni used to drink his with gin in place of the soda (cause he was a playa). Standard serve should be short over ice with a wedge of orange. Of course a Negroni up with a twist is damn fine too.
I like your review, it echoes my own experiences there, consistent delicious simple flavorsome perfectly cooked meals. Nobody around town can cook fish as perfectly, their grill must pack some serious heat. I recommend their martinis too, with a good choice of gins.
keep the reviews coming…
Capitol is amazing. We went there the first day when they started with this menu.
And they had amazing oysters too, that day.
And to top it all, it was a beautiful Wellington day.
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