11.08.2014 / by fwebltd
By Carroll du Chateau
We hadn’t been to a gastro-pub for ages, so we were looking forward to Scarlett Slimms and Lucky in Mt Eden village.
This space used to be The Eden Cloakroom. Now it’s been repainted, but in the distressed, faux-aged way, so the concrete shows though. It’s cool and clever, especially the outline of a girl that has been chipped though the paint to the concrete behind. She’s beautiful and her picture’s on the menu, too. Maybe she’s Lucky; more likely she’s Scarlett.
The menu’s a quirky feature of this new fit-out. It’s a little booklet called variously Crime Brulee and To Brie Or Not To Brie. The big leaf planters overhead are strangely leering, too. Indeed, the only thing that let Scarlett Slimms and Lucky down on yet another wet Auckland night was the cold. Although there were overhead heaters out front, the bar area at the back was draughty.
First up was a drink. The wine and beer list was short but excellent; the maitre d’ knew the whole range intimately. He poured us a more generous glass of wine than we’ve been offered in a while, and the beer was long, cold and reviving.
Our entrees, which for many would be classed as bar snacks, arrived quick smart – a bowl of deep-fried satay chicken for Brian, which was hearty enough for a main course; a plate of beautiful sashimi salmon with a hot Japanese-flavoured broth poured over; a hearty serving of calamari, and angus beef rump with blue cheese aioli for the others. All four dishes were large, cooked well and great value at $14 each, though the dabs of aioli on the beef and satay on the chicken were so minuscule they were hardly worth mentioning.
Our main courses were similarly substantial. The sirloin steak was huge and so tender the knife cut though it like butter. It was served with a smattering of grilled vegetables on top, a large potato rosti underneath and was well-seasoned and perfectly cooked. But where was the green peppercorn sauce? Finally I found a couple of whole, green peppercorns, lurking on the plate. This was a major disappointment. Rather than a creamy sauce flavoured with crushed peppercorns, this one consisted of whole peppercorns, possibly whisked around the pan after the meat was cooked, then scattered over the top. It was plain nasty – and I got a peppercorn caught in my throat.
The others were better pleased: Brian’s hapuku was cooked for just a
fraction too long, but good, nevertheless. The pork loin was tender and tasty and the fish and chips, made with fresh snapper, were absolutely beautiful.
And what was this? For once there was a dairy-free dessert. It was a raw chocolate torte with chocolate sorbet, and after the first taste, which was a little less sweet than expected, it was a delight: creamy, chocolatey and quite wonderful, though the sorbet wasn’t so successful. The strawberry meringue with panna cotta marquise was excellent, too.
By then it was after 9.15 and Scarlett Slimms and Lucky had morphed into a late-night bar. Most of the women had disappeared but there were plenty of groups of men, drinking, eating.
We turned to discussing Scarlett Slimms and Lucky and, predictably, it was the men who liked it most. They enjoyed it for the generous pours of wine and beer, the music, our super-efficient and jokey waiter and the delicious and hearty food, though Brian did note they were charging almost up to restaurant prices for what was casual pub food.
We would have liked to be warmer and more comfortable for a dinner that lasted well over a couple of hours, but we would definitely call by again for a drink and a snack. Having said that, if our first waiter had listened when we told her we were here for dinner and found us a table under the heaters and in the front part of Scarlett’s set-up, it may well have been a different story.
Our meal: $268 for a beer, seven glasses of wine, plus four small and large plates and two desserts.
Wine list: Plenty of choices of wine and beer and experts who know their range thoroughly.
No need for samples here!
Verdict: Yet another establishment that can’t quite get its head around the fact that Auckland winters can be really cold, especially at night.
But the wine and beer line-up is excellent, with a dash of the unexpected, while the food is classic pub-style: plenty of it, high quality and competently cooked, though I do suggest they get a new sauce expert.