Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Three Lamps Bar and Eatery

I was quite excited when Yatchi of Zomato invited Jason and me to enjoy a degustation meal with a group of other foodies. Hosted by Three Lamps Bar and Eatery, a group of us stepped out of a cold Thursday night and into a cozy bar where we were greeted by the team (Andrew, Claire, Mike and Josh) and the massive list of craft that Three Lamps is famous for.



Previously the old post office, Three Lamps renamed itself after the area and kept the architecture the same. They rebranded themselves from the Belgian Beer Cafe just over a year ago and, with over 220 craft beers from New Zealand and all around the world, it's no no wonder that beer lovers flock here!

I was actually quite overwhelmed with the beer selection but Josh and Mike were very helpful and picked an Emerson 1812 (IPA) for me when I expressed a fondness for pale ale. 

Harrington's Saddler Lager paired with Chilli and Garlic Prawns and Fish Tacos

Our first beer was a Harrington's Saddler, a malt lager, to be paired with three seafood entrées. It had a toffee flavour and a light citrusy after taste. While very refreshing, I was confused that this wasn't a recommended menu match for any of the entrées we were served.

The Chilli and Garlic Prawns arrived in a sizzling pot with some crusty French bread. They were beautifully garlicky but lacked the promised spice. Not that it stopped me from picking them out of the pot with my fingers..

I was a bit skeptical of the fish tacos when they arrived as it's not something I would normally order but I was very pleasantly surprised. The soft fish, coated in a very thin layer of crunchy batter had a great texture and was paired well with a sweet chutney. The addition of jalapeños delivered a nice kick through sweetness.

Whiskey Cured Salmon with Horseradish Cream Cheese
The highlight of the seafood entrées was the Whiskey Cured Salmon. The salmon had developed a beautiful deep red colour probably through the curing process. The whiskey flavour was faint and I would have missed it had I not tried it on its own but the dish really came together when paired with the pickled beetroot. Marinated in orange and balsamic vinegar, the beetroot provided a burst of flavour contrasting with the smooth salmon and cream cheese.

Beef Cheek Sliders paired with Emerson's London Porter and Mushroom & Blue Cheese Sliders paired with Yakima Monster
The sliders came in fluffy buns that were incredibly soft and sweet. I started with the Beef Cheek Sliders paired with the Emerson's London Porter. The beef cheeks had been cooking for 6 hours which meant the the sweet, tangy sauce had penetrated through the meat and the tendons melted as you bit into the slider. I thought the porter was a bit heavy and overpowered the flavour of the beef.

We thought the blue cheese and mushroom sliders were better suited to its beer match, which was the  Yakima Monster APA from the Liberty Brewing Company. The mushrooms were plump and smothered in a generous helping of cheese sauce which oozes out the sides as you take a bite.

Crispy Skin Salmon with Prawn and Lime Risotto and Capsicum and Wasabi Couli
Our first main was the Crispy Skin Salmon sitting on top of a Prawn and Lime Risotto which was Jason's favourite dish. Not only was it beautifully presented, but it was also well executed. The salmon was cooked to perfection - the flesh was moist and kept its shape while the crispy skin was well done. I really enjoyed the risotto and the lime really worked well to cut through the creaminess of the rest of the dish. The Capsicum and Wasabi Couli made for a great looking plate but it wasn't very noticeable unless you had heaps of it on your fork.

The "Boil Up"
When it arrived at the table, it was clear that the Boil Up had been cooking for a long time. All the pork had fallen off the bone and the veggies were soft and looked as though they were about to melt into the herby broth. The portion size was very large which was perfect for sharing around the table and came with plenty of crusty bread to mop up the soup. The small suet dough boys were a nice dainty change to the large lumpy dumplings you find in more traditional boil ups. 

This was paired with the Dogfish 60 minute IPA, named for the fact it has over 60 hop additions over a 60 minute boil. It had a buttery flavour with a hint of apricots and there is also a 90 minute and a 120 minute IPA.

Venison Pie
The Venison Pie came with a Newcastle Brown Ale and was served with a side of kumara mash and creamed broccoli and cabbage. The pot was filled to the brim with tender chunks of venison, which thankfully didn't have a strong gamey taste, and had a crunchy and light pastry top. The mash was very smooth and the sweet kumara was good contrast to the deep hearty flavours of the venison. The good ol' pie was paired with the Newcastle Brown Ale - something I can see myself having on a cold winters night.

Lamb three ways
I was nearing the food coma stage at this point but nothing could've stopped me from trying the last main. Paired with the Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout (actually has oysters in it!), the Lamb Three Ways comprised of crumbed cutlets, roasted shoulder with baby vegetables and a shepherds pie which came in a tiny copper saucepan that I'm dying to have in my kitchen! 

The cutlets were perfectly pink in the middle and the crumb provided a nice crunch. The roasted shoulder was very tender although had a few tough bits that were kind of hard to chew. The shepherd's pie was nice and thick -again, something that I would love to have on a winter's night.

Andrew the owner
It was neat to be able to dine with the team at Three Lamps as you could tell that they were really passionate about their brand. Mike and Claire, who I sat next to, were very excited about put menu which had created just over a week ago. Andrew the owner, whom I later found out used to be a marine biologist, gave us a brief history of the building and spoke of their monthly beer evenings -where a local brewery showcases a range of their beers along with matched food prepared by Paddy the chef.

Sierra Nevada Porter and Banana Bread Beer
Donuts with Chocolate Sauce
The first of the desserts was Donuts with Chocolate Sauce. I only had a little bite because I was saving room for the crime brûlée but I found that tie to be too dense. I'm not a donut person though and the rest of the table seemed to enjoy them just fine, with a few people taking them home for later! 

This was paired with the Wells Banana Bread Beer which really blew my mind. The beer had a strong banana aroma (obviously) and tasted very caramelly. 


Espresso Creme Brûlée
The creme brûlée looked amazing when it came out and I was salivating before it even hit the table. It was a real shame that the sugar top had turned into a soft toffee and denied us the pleasure of cracking it with our spoons! The toffee stuck my mouth shut when I had a go at it anyway so I set it aside and dug into the creamy centre which had a good balance of espresso flavour and sweetness. I think I would order this again as it was obvious that Paddy usually executes this dish a lot better. I thought the shortbread was quite a heavy accompaniment though, perhaps something lighter and wafer like would have gone better. The toffee taste and bitterness of the Sierra Nevada Porter complimented the brûlée wonderfully. 

Whitestone Cheddar Plate
We rounded off the night with a well presented Whitestone Cheddar with apple and pear slices. This was paired with the Good George "XXXXX" Aussie Wheat Beer and was a very nice end to the meal.

Menu with craft beer suggestions
Three Lamps has really upped the game on traditional pub fare. Each and every dish brought to the table was beautifully presented and pretty well executed. Their menu is well thought out and their extensive craft beer selection is enough to make anyone want to drop in (long Friday lunches I'm thinking..). I am looking forward to attending one of their craft beer events in the future!

Three Lamps Bar and Eatery can be found at 1-3 St Mary's Road, Ponsonby, Auckland

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Lucy and Jason dined as guests of Zomato and Three Lamps Bar and Eatery.