Eating@ ... Maddison's Restaurant
The butter-poached free-range egg sits atop the thick, lightly-caramelised slices of dry-aged sirloin, its startlingly orange yolk glistening like a rare jewel. Yielding under the knife before breaking, its molten gold contents spill over the steak and cascade down the deep crevices of tender, rare beef in a display of next-level gastro porn.
It’s a sight likely to elicit a signature gasp and saucy superlative from domestic goddess/temptress Nigella Lawson, but it has me hurriedly reaching for the chunky, hand-cut golden fries to mop up the sprawling goodness.
Ensconced in the swank surrounds of the Heritage Christchurch Hotel’s Old Government Building, the culinary maestros at Continental have breathed new life into Maddison’s Restaurant, the former breakfast-only venue now also rocking fierce lunch and dinner menus. Sustainable, locally-sourced and in-season fare is the order of the day, in alignment with the hotel chain’s Good Food Project.
Don’t let the words ‘hotel restaurant’ put you off either! Maddison’s is no stuffy, by-the-numbers hotel offering. The décor is slick, there’s white linen under the designer crockery, a fresh oyster bar at night and friendly, attentive and knowledgeable staff who, while being super friendly and chatty (if the occasion calls for the latter), have also mastered the art of catering to your every need (in some cases, even before you realise you need it) without you knowing they’re even there. A mezzanine floor, accessed via the kitchen, adds not only a peek into the gastronomic alchemy taking place in the culinary nerve centre, but also a private and intimate space presiding over the restaurant.
But back to the steak! Organic Cheviot Beef, it was delivered as a whole carcass, broken down and dry-aged on site. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s all part of the premier caterer’s flagship dining experience and a sign of the dedication of head chef Scott Gibbs who, along with his team, make pretty much everything from scratch in house, including nut milks, activated nuts, yoghurts, preserves, sauces, pickles, peanut butter and butter, along with undertaking all the smoking and dry-aging.
It goes without saying that the steak is boss, ticking all the boxes (it even adds a few new boxes to the mix and ticks those too) and, as the rich, tender beef melts in my mouth I eye up my companions’ equally impressive lunches including braised lamb pappardelle (with freshly made pasta, natch!), the exotic Simo-inspired flatbread with spiced lamb, hummus and feta and the epic, two-handed behemoth that is a Maddison’s burger, all succulent meat patty and piquant house-preserved pickles. Hardly surprising that I make a mental note to take advantage of its stellar Cathedral Square location for pre or post show (though probably both!) drinks and eats the next time we’re at Isaac Theatre Royal.