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By Heather• 10 Mar 2016
The first time I visited Park Kitchen in Miramar, I was seated right beaneath, and looking directly at, the large hare on the back wall. He frowned down at me the whole time, and I ended up fantasising about how hare burger might taste.
This time I was seated facing the other way, and there’s a new wily fox keeping an eye on the grumpy hare, so order was restored. Owner Andrew Hawkes tells me the hare was painted by local artist Bruce Mahalski and inspired by the Hackney Hare, which Andrew enjoyed during his time in the UK. So I’ll refrain from further comments about hare burger then!
Park Kitchen started out as a bar with food, but has morphed into a restaurant with a bar to meet customer demand. With one of the few Josper ovens in NZ, and an eye to international trends, they offer up some interesting fare, and cater to your eating and drinking requirements morning, noon and night (brace yourself, I'm going to wax lyrical about cauliflower shortly).
The Josper is essentially a BBQ in an oven and was firing along at 475C when I visited. The point is to cook food quickly, imparting a smokey taste and locking in moisture and flavour in ways that conventional ovens or open BBQs can’t.
So here we go with the waxing… A whole cauliflower was passed through the Josper to create a soft but intact head (nothing like grandma used to make), which contrasted very nicely with lightly lemon Israeli couscous, cubes of pumpkin, baby roasted carrots, sweet raisins, crunchy almonds, creamy vindaloo bechamel, and the odd burst of coriander. It was so delicious and well balanced that I might have licked the plate clean (apparently the cleanest cauli plate ever seen by our waiter - I'm choosing to believe he's new and I'm not a glutton!).
I also liked that it was cooked complete with stalk and some of the external leaves, all nicely chardish after the Jospering. It’s a real balancing act to cook something consistently right through at high heat without collapse or exterior burn, so I'm keen to try some other Josper dishes to see how they turn out. Apparently the pork belly is the most popular, and I suspect it might go rather well with a re-run of the cauliflower, as did the Hardieboys ginger beer.
The cheeseburger enjoyed by friends on both visits had a large and juicy patty with a good contrast of outside sear to pink interior (although may be a touch rare for some) and done simply with bacon (optional) and cheese. The lettuce, tomato and sauces came separately for creativity as you fancied or leaving totally pure. Park Kitchen use high quality and local product wherever possible, with prime Angus used in the burger.
The other dishes sampled over the two visits are shown below, with two thumbs up awarded for the smokey and tangy Josper calamari and chorizo, the seasonal asparagus dish, and the gingerbread and black doris ice creams.
The décor is light, bright and airy by day, and cosy by night. The drinks cover a good range of mostly NZ beers, wines (all by the glass, carafe or bottle), cocktails, and non alcoholics, with many names you'll recognise – Garage Project, Panhead, Parrotdog, Kereru, Hardie Boys, Six Barrel, Havana coffee, etc. And the service was very welcoming and friendly on both visits.
Keep an eye out for evening entertainment in the future and the promise of an interesting burger for their first foray into Visa Wellington On a Plate this year.
At this rate, I’m going to have to move to Miramar!
Georgia recommends some favourite Wellington beers to quaff during the colder months.