Review: The Carlton
The Carlton is the new version of The Carlton Hotel, demolished and rebuilt due to earthquake damage.
The new Carlton includes two bars (upstairs and down) and a restaurant. No expense has been spared in the lavish rebuild and the restaurant is no exception.
The decor is buttoned-leather booth seating, memorabilia (a nod to the building's history), and dark wood.
It's a masculine setting and the restaurant menu specialises in steak - two pages of the dinner menu are devoted to the various cuts, beef breeds and steak weights.
As an entree, lamb croquettes with lamb sweetbreads is hard to ignore. The dish is compact and well presented with crisp, moist sweetbreads.
Our crispy squid is served with mayo - rich and eggy - and a generous pile of flavoured salt and chilli. Rustic. Nice.
For our mains it's steak and steak. The Carlton's approach is to appeal to all preferences with diners building their own dish from lists of choices including cuts of beef, flavoured butters, sauces, even a choice of potato dishes.
A weighty ribeye is paired with a smoked confit garlic sauce and dauphinoise potatoes. A 220g eye fillet is paired with a bourbon and mushroom sauce and duck fat potatoes.
Sides (vegetables, salads and toppings) are an extra charge and the list is a long one. Ours extends to green beans with almonds, garlic mushrooms, and a rocket, pear, prosciutto and blue cheese salad.
We were surprised by the generous size of the sides - each could maybe serve two. Or four? So best take advice to prevent over-ordering.
All steaks at The Carlton are char-broiled and the menu specifically describes what diners can expect from a blue, rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well or well-done steak.
We order both steaks medium-rare and the ribeye is presented as specified - "pinkish-red in the centre". It is perfectly cooked. Dauphinoise potatoes are nicely layered and soft, the garlic sauce is smooth and strong and with the mushrooms and green beans it is a generous, well- rounded meal.
The eye fillet arrives cooked "medium-well". To one who ordered "medium-rare" this is over-cooked. The selected duck fat potatoes (potatoes roasted in duck fat) are rich, the bourbon sauce although thin has a rich mushroom undertone.
And our salad? Crispy and generous.
The Carlton delivered. A comprehensive menu with good service and a great atmosphere.
Where: Cnr Bealey Ave and Papanui Rd
Ph 03 355 9543
When: Sunday-Wednesday 11am-midnight, Thursday-Saturday 11am-2am
Cost: Entrees from $13.50, steaks from $27.50, other mains from $25.50
Upside: Perfectly cooked ribeye steak
Downside: big appetites needed