Goose Shack in fine feather
GOOSE SHACK HQ
461 Adelaide Rd, Berhampore.
Ph: None as yet
Open: Tues 5 pm-late, Wed-Sat 9 am-late, Sun 9 am-3 pm
Price range of mains: $18-$28
Cost: $105 for two (excluding wine)
Wine list: 3.5/5
To every pair of hip, comfortably off breeders in their thirties, Berhampore must seem quite the burb du jour.
The Victorian-Edwardian-bungaloid housing stock is equally as charming as adjacent Island Bay's, but not yet as expensive; and you can still sneak your kids into decile 10 Island Bay School.
Most of the suburb enjoys the same sunny, west-facing aspect as adjacent Newtown, only there are none of Newtown's towering high-rise council flats (whose tenants I believe repeatedly burgled my old house in Daniell St).
But you'd better be in quick. If recent openings in the Berhampore shopping centre are any indication, gentrification is already well set in. Rinski Korsakov does an excellent flat white, while the chic baguettes, burli and campagne of Baker Gramercy regularly sell out.
So too does the brand new Goose Shack HQ, it seems. One night soon after opening, the bistro was so over-patronised that they had to close early because they'd run out of food.
Problems with Telecom mean GSHQ has no phone as yet, so frustrated in his efforts to make a booking, my brother decided we'd better front up early to get a table. He was right. By 7pm the place was packed with locals.
GSHQ is the former Berhampore post office. Latterly Maverick's Pizzeria, it is now whimsically refitted with recycled materials; and while owners Haydn Turner and his wife Laura Nicholls, the designer, are adamant they won't be serving pizza, a woodfire oven remains the focus of the place.
Outside, the smell of burning red gum and manuka sets gastric juices flowing, and calms the road-rage of prospective customers as they cruise up and down Luxford St, looking for non-existent car parks. should open their own public carpark. Hell, I'd pay to use it.
From the intense heat of GSHQ's woodfire oven emerges an emphatically unpizza-ish flatbread, fatter and puffier even than a naan. It's expensive at $8, but worth it.
Waiting staff were switched-on and friendly: water glasses were refreshed, our table wiped of minor spillages between courses - and I actually have to thank our waitron for accidentally upgrading my wine order by reading my mind.
"Nanny goat!" she boldly announced over my shoulder.
Nanny goat? I thought to myself, "What nanny goat? I've ordered no nanny goat, nor skewered testicles of Billy Goat Gruff, neither."
Then I realised she meant the glass of pinot noir I'd wanted to order, but had downgraded to a request for the cheaper Crowded House, being mindful of the Dom Post's coffers. It was serendipity, for it confirmed my suspicion that if not exactly a pig, at $14 the Goat might be over-priced.
Sirloin with cavolo nero, white beans and baby onions was comforting and lovely, while pearly, glistening flakes proved the terakihi to truly be fish of that day. With the advertised heirloom carrots and baby beetroot came a pleasant surprise - a smear of delicious salsa verde, intensely minty and vinegary.
In Wellington, Ortega Fish Shack serves beautiful fish, while the Crab Shack does bonza crabs.
But goose is nobody's favourite flesh, so at least part of the reason both Spruce Goose and Goose Shack are great must be that they are completely and utterly goose-less, the pair of them.
ONE THING YOU SHOULD TRY
Braised duck, endive, roasted apricots
Although not an immediately obvious flavour combination, it's enchanting: sweet and richly savoury, offset by the faintly bitter crunch of witlof. While the duck is described as braised, the skin is in fact crisp, and dusted with ground star anise.
The Dominion Post