Basic errors let down elegant dining room
Harrows Restaurant (within the Black Stump Cafe)
106 Main St, Pahiatua
Ph 376 7123
Open: Tues-Sat from 6pm
Mains range up to $34
Reviewed by Lisa Durrant.
Discovering a restaurant in Pahiatua offering fine a la carte dining was an unexpected surprise.
I'd heard that the Black Stump Cafe was worth a visit, but no-one had mentioned that within the same building was a more upmarket dining room.
It was a quiet night at Harrows, with the two of us the only diners. Even the cafe/bar seemed fairly quiet - maybe Pahiatua residents prefer to go out on Saturday rather than Friday.
The restaurant is decorated in subtle colours, and its elegance is enhanced by white linen tablecloths and napkins, soft music playing and a warming gas fire in the corner.
After spying the tempting dessert menu we decided to share a starter to ensure we would have plenty of room later.
We chose the chicken liver pate, served with mango chutney and ciabatta.
The chutney made all the difference, lifting the flavour of the pate, while the ciabatta was hot and well toasted.
My main was twice-cooked pork belly on kumara and apple mash, with broccoli and carrots and a rich port wine jus. The jus had a great depth of flavour and was the perfect accompaniment for the pork - I just wish there had been more of it!
The kumara mash was creamy and smooth with a slice of cooked apple sandwiched between this and the pork . The flavour combination of the jus, kumara, apple and the pork was a match made in heaven, it was just unfortunate the pork let the dish down. It was a little dry in places and the skin was rubbery and inedible, rather than crisped into yummy crackling.
My friend's main was salmon and “baby potatoes, watercress mayonnaise drizzled with olive oil and vincotto”. The salmon was nicely cooked, but the "watercress mayonnaise” was absent - apparently there wasn't any watercress to be found locally because of the weather.
On to pudding. My apple and gingerbread upside-down pudding with anglaise and icecream was real comfort food. However, a little too long in the microwave had seen the pudding go dry and tough in places.
Bread and butter chocolate pudding was another option that caught the eye of my companion. It was a very generous serving, with the chocolate flavour given by chocolate chips, mostly sitting near the top. This meant it was a bit bland in the places where there wasn't any chocolate. The accompanying fresh cream was warmed, which was a nice touch.
After the dessert plates were cleared, we waited to be asked if we wanted anything else. We had to go looking for someone to take our hot drinks order. Not quite the ending we were hoping for.