A seat at the table: Asado at Nikau

Every now and again it is good to do something a little different. On Saturday, as the Matariki firework display was taking place at the waterfront here in Wellington, we went to Nikau Café’s asado night. Asado, in case you don’t know, is a form of Argentinian barbecue, cooked over an open-fire. The head chef at Nikau, Dante Moren is originally from Argentina, and is apparently ‘passionate’ about open-fire cooking.

Bookings are required, and the night we went the restaurant was full. The evening began with a welcome drink of vermouth rosso and soda (lemonade was also on offer). There were dishes of salsa criolla and chimichurry on the table – oh and champagne corks for decoration.

The first course was venison and roasted veggetables empanadas and chori bombom, a type of sausage. These were brought, piping hot, to our table. I loved the empanada, and the sausage was good too. Both gave opportunity to try both the criolla and chimichurry as well as you can see!

We then moved on to a very tender scotch fillet that was full of flavour and melted in the mouth. A potato salad, green beans and an amazing confit buttered cabbage were our accompaniments. However, the next dish was a big disappointment – pork, that although soft, was very dry and boring. Pork doesn’t always work for me anyway (I hate roast pork and crackling for example), but what should have been a nice piece of melting meat was just what it should have been. However, things turned around by the beef ribs that followed. Straight from grill to table, this was lovely, soft and tasty meat. At this point I had already eaten a fair bit and was not that hungry, so I fear I did not given them justice. There was a lot of food, and seconds of ribs for those hungry enough. We drank a good Argentinian shiraz with our main dishes.

The dessert choice was crème caramel with dulce de leche or fruit salad with vanilla bean ice cream. I went for the former as you can see, and was not disappointed with a dish that was as light as a feather and a good example of this classic dessert. Karl had the ice cream, and we both had an espresso.

Apart from the pork, it was a nice meal, with lots of food and good service. The event was a fixed price of NZ$69 which is a very reasonable price. Wine, coffee and other drinks were of course on top of this. I think this concept was great for the restaurant – they knew how many people were coming, how much food was needed so there was less waste. In these difficult times for the hospitality industry, it seems like a good strategy.

The featured image at the top of the post is of the chef, captured as he prepared to cook.

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram@thistleandkiwis.  As for Twitter….am totally inactive these days.  If you want to get in touch, email me on thistlesandkiwis@gmail.com


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