Food for thought is no substitute for the real thing.
~ Walt Kelly
L’Assiette is not a place you are likely to just visit once. Oh, no. I don’t know what it is – there must have been a secret spell tucked into the heart of the croque madame I had when I first visited this place – I’ve now been there for breakfast, lunch, dinner and in-between. Not all the time, but still. That’s a lot of meals to eat in one place in just two months.
I had dinner there for the first time last night. My friends Matt and John came to visit from Wellington, and I thought they might enjoy it…
We got a bottle of 2009 Domaine Lafond Côtes du Rhône Roc-Epine for the table (lovely red, like a silk dress). John ordered their scotch fillet served with a bourguignon garnish and roasted potatoes; Matt opted for the fish; I was very close to ordering the duck but decided to pick the fish in the end because, well, if I am to ever like cooked salmon or polenta, I felt L’Assiette would be the place to change my heart.
The fish made me want to kiss someone.
I’m not sure why I am describing it that way, but it was honestly the first thought that entered my brain (I hasten to add that I did not give the boys seated across from me this honour). Last night’s poisson du jour was a sublime piece of salmon cooked so beautifully I even ate the skin (usually a no-go zone for me). The sauce did what every sauce should do – it made the star (the salmon) shine. Also, the texture was amazing – so light that each time I placed a bit of it in my mouth I felt like I was eating a savoury cloud.
The skins on the oven-roasted cherry tomatoes on the side were just getting ready to burst; the tomatoes collapsed readily in my mouth.
I looked at the polenta on my plate, hesitating slightly.
I’ve tried polenta fries, polenta cakes – and, mostly, it’s been sort of disappointing. Reminiscent of rice or cous cous in a jelly mold.
Last night, I was so sad when I got to the last bite of the polenta! If you want to make someone love polenta, send them to L’Assiette. And have them eat it with their salmon.
We weren’t given a long time to mourn the completion of dinner – the dessert menu made its way to our table, and the well-lit cabinet in the background perked up as we looked towards its offerings. The boys ordered a mille-feuille and a creme brulee respectively; I opted for a coffee éclair. I was given a fork and knife to eat this – it felt like an occasion. This is one of the many little things that cause me to love this place; no matter what you order – a macaron or a main – they are designed to please, and served with thought and care.
L’Assiette – 9 Britomart Place, Auckland – Phone: 09 309 0961