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Review: Bessie

There’s a buzz in the atmospheric setting of Bessie, where a full house is relaxing on a Thursday night amongst exposed brick, prim white tablecloths and the warm light of large, bare globes. We’re here for the first of their Wine & Meat series, which has lined up former AB Ian Jones for a few after dinner anecdotes alongside a fabulous 4-course, wine-matched meal that highlights the St Asaph Street outfit’s culinary prowess.

We’ve already picked up a flute of bubbles just on the way in the door, which is a good start to any evening; we’re a few sips in when two perfectly presented morsels of Steak Tartare arrive, with whipped free range egg and a crunchy crostini beneath setting off the delightful savoury bite.

Steak Tartare

Entrees are a choice of Marborough King Salmon with escabeche, fennel or buckwheat or Chicken Liver Parfait with fig, pistachio and crostini. We opt for the parfait which arrives as a generous brick, topped with delicate fig puree and the added crunch of pistachio nuts. Smeared heartily on crisp, salty crostini, it’s a full, mouth-coating exercise in delicious, with the sweet tang of the fig putting an added flavour note in the mix that takes things to the next level. It’s served alongside a Man O’ War Exiled Pinot Gris, with the wine’s acid profile perfect for cutting through the parfait’s luxurious meaty richness.

Mains is the next choice to be made, and although the sights of the Canterbury Lamb Tenderloin and Organic Chicken with black barley, roasted carrots and miso have their temptations, when you’re in Rome you do as the Romans do, and when you’re at Bessie, you order the steak – a 500gm Rib Eye on the Bone, to be precise, which on the occasion we visit has been dry-aging for 20 days in the in-restaurant cabinet just waiting for our arrival.

Bessie cover

Served with a roast onion, half a roasted marrow bone, a piquant horseradish cream and a mini jug of full-bodied gravy, the beef is cooked to perfection; meltingly tender, it slides easily aside under the knife into bite sized morsels to be popped into the mouth solo for a rich meaty hit or alongside our chosen sides, spring potatoes roasted to perfection with rosemary and garlic and duck fat potato croquettes with rosemary salt, all golden brown crumbed crispness without and creamy, dreamy mash within. 500 grams sounds like a big steak, but that can disappear fast when things taste this good! Mt Difficult Bannockburn Pinot Noir is the perfect accompaniment.

There’s time for a rugby-days tale or two from the Kamo Kid (you need to watch what you’re doing in front of vociferous French rugby crowds, it seems); it’s the perfect chance to let things settle a little ahead of the delights of dessert. A chocolate marquaise plated up with vanilla ice cream and shattered raspberries is a heady and decadent treat, while a light Malibu Panna Cotta of spiced pineapple and toasted coconut shifts a damp Christchurch spring directly night into the tropics, and the sweetness of a glass of Noble One’s highly acclaimed and multi-award winning Botrytis Semillon De Bortoli is the perfect capper to a decadent evening.


When’s the next one of these, again?

03 595 2799
178 St Asaph Street

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