Monday, August 3, 2009

Chef Jules at large

Hello Friends;

It was another beautiful day in Auckland, New Zealand and to
make the most of it I decided to conduct a restaurant review by the water. After a 15 minute drive to Devonport, a small coastal town, a 10 minute ferry ride into downtown Auckland, then a short stroll, we arrived at Euro Restaurant, 22 Princes Wharf. It is self described as a place the "glitterati go to be seen and not heard"and New Zealand's first restaurant to make the worlds' top 60 according to Conde Nast magazine. Euro is owned by Richard Sigley and is one of approximately 7 restaurants/ bars, in Auckland and Wellington that are part of the Nourish Group. Simon Gault, who has quite a high profile, is the groups Master Chef and oversees kitchen operations and puts his stamp on each.

There was was evidence glitterati, albeit pseudo, unfortunately close by and audible. A couple in their 30's with a 6 month old baby and the lady's parents. Everything about the mother was designer, including the baby. I couldn't help wondering what route the infant had taken to emerge into this world and finally decided it must have been an elected cesarean. I have never seen a woman juggle a large glass of wine and a baby's bottle with such aplomb, the performers of cirque du soleil would have been impressed.This baby was never going to interrupt a lifestyle that they have become accustomed to and there is a part of me that admires that philosophy, anyway back to the food.

I must admit, more than the reputation, stunning location, and tastefully executed decor I was lured by the Alaskan King Crab, which I have eaten overseas. After seeing a documentary by Discovery Channel titled "Deadliest Catch" a few years ago, I was interested in the seafood. The documentary followed the lives of the fishermen that risk life and limb to catch these crabs and is clearly one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S.A. There are 300 fatalities per 100.000 people and over 80% are caused by drownings or hypothermia, not to mention crippling injuries caused by gear and heavy machinery. Put another way the fatality rate is 90 times greater than that of the average worker. The crabs are fished off the coast of Alaska and the Aleutians Islands in the Bering sea. Due to over fishing, warmer seas and increases of predatory fish creating imbalances, there are strict quotas and a very limited season, at one point as low as 4 days, but now 2-4 weeks in the months of October and January are usual.

I ordered the special crab platter, which was served with 3 different infused butters. Chipotle, ginger and garlic, all of which could have done with a stronger flavour. The crab was served with french fries, which I feel detracted from the dish, a gourmet potato salad with mustard aioli would have been a better choice. It was well cooked and helpful to have the shell partially removed but the flesh had suffered from the freezing process and I certainly would not order it again. I note that they had crab cake listed as an entree, which might have been a better choice. A plum tomato, basil, buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto pizza was also ordered, which was pretty good, along with a side salad. Although the food was average it wouldn't put me off returning as I know these guys can cook and perhaps next time I will try the "six course tasting menu", and advertised at NZ $65, seemingly good value. Actually I was surprised at how reasonably priced the whole meal was. The front of house staff were attentive, given we were one of two tables seated outside( the majority were inside) and very professional.

With the meal I chose a bottle of I Masoletti 2007 Pinot Grigio from Venice, which was unlike any Italian Pinot Grigio I have tasted. Darker in colour, sweeter and a mature taste, more like a Viognier I felt, but pleasant enough.

My score for Euro is 7/10, a disappointing score,
let down by the Alaskan King Crab, but as I said I'll be back.

Meanwhile check out Chef Jules  Creamy Saffron Crab recipe.
To me it highlights the difference fresh produce makes, i.e the humble Paddle Crab at it's freshest, compared to the glamorous King Crab, frozen.

Well that's all for today, so ciao for now.

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