A Capitol experience

KERRY MCBRIDE
Last updated 12:30 05/10/2012

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Cafe Reviews

Name Capitol Restaurant
Region Wellington Central
Suburb Mount Victoria
Price High
Licensed Yes

It seemed almost unbelievable that I had never made it through the doors of Wellington restaurant staple Capitol.

So on a quiet Monday night a friend and I found ourselves poring over the menu of the little bistro at the end of Courtenay Place. The staff had quickly accommodated us, though we had not made a reservation.

There was a pleasant buzz about the place but I would certainly hate to discuss anything of a sensitive nature - the tables are so close together I could have taken a drink out of the water glass of the fellow at the next table.

Despite the limited size of the restaurant and kitchen, head chef Tom Hutchison has put together a thoughtful menu filled with rich flavours, interesting combinations, and a clear appreciation for Italian cuisine done well.

While the pumpkin ravioli I'd heard so much about seemed to have disappeared from the menu, it was not missed once our friendly and efficient waitress rattled off a list of enticing specials.

Our shared entree of rigatoni with ox tail ragout, lemon and parsley ($21.50) was delectable, with large pieces of parmesan complementing the full-flavoured ragout perfectly.

I would have been more than happy to have it again as a main ($32.50), even if my offsider did call it a "fancy spag bol".

As someone with a love of great vegetarian food, I was pleased to see there were plenty of non-meat choices, although the ubiquitous mushroom risotto (entree $20.50, main $30.50) made an appearance among other slightly more interesting options.

I was tempted by the spinach and ricotta gnocchi with gorgonzola and sorrel (entree $20.50, main $30.50), but the free-range chicken breast with taleggio and hazelnut baked semolina ($30.50) I settled on was cooked to perfection.

A slightly stronger cheese than the mild taleggio would have been welcome, but hazelnut was a beautiful way to up the ante in the accompanying semolina.

The grilled angus beef fillet ($34.50) was also pronounced a winner. However, it seemed that the potato gratin on the side had an unfortunately charred top - a small misstep in an otherwise beautifully presented dish.

Finishing with soft-centred chocolate pudding with creme fraiche ($14.50) was an excellent closing to the meal.

The piping hot chocolate centre was divine, and the sour creme fraiche cut through the sweetness of the chocolate nicely.

With plenty more on offer I would love to try, I won't wait quite as long to cross Capitol's threshold again.

A shared three-course dinner for two, including drinks, cost $115.50.

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- The Wellingtonian

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