As I've said before, I initially felt like I never wanted to talk about the nice things that happen to me on account of this blog, in case I came across as a self-congratulatory dick (or at least, more so) and in case people were entirely put off by such stories of good times for free. But eventually I decided it might be an even better use of my time if I tried to write about them anyway, in spite of my awkwardness. It's a good challenge to do so and not sound awful, plus I'm not entirely ungracious, plus there's the chance that people are interested in what ideas and events are happening at restaurants and so on. And really, it doesn't happen that often, so the occasional diversion from my usual recipes adds crucial novelty value! Or so I like to think. Finally, I named this segment for a quote from the shrewd and endearing Jimmy James of the wonderful and underwatched 90s sitcom NewsRadio.
With that overwritten and defensive prelude concluded, here's the thing: I got invited to Boulcott Street Bistro to try their T-Rex Burger. Tim, my ever-affable plus-one, was delighted to come along too.
The pitch: Boulcott Street Bistro know a thing or two about the fancy life. Not least because this T-Rex burger won the Visa Wellington on a Plate Burger Wellington competition last year. Chef Rex Morgan is on top of his game, or at least this is what Tim tells me. Tim has been to this restaurant about three times already with his work, whereas I've never once walked through its adorable heritage doors. Not that Tim works in the Long Lunch 80s, but let's just say his employers aren't at the mercy of the scrutiny of the spending of taxpayer's dollars like mine are. Not that either of us couldn't have gone there under our own steam either, had we put our mind to it. But anyway: Boulcott Street Bistro are proud of this burger's big win, and so are offering it for $20 every lunchtime for the whole of July.
What happened: I know weather is so boring to talk about, and yet it also unites us in conversation quite safely in a way that politics or religion can't. So, confidently shall I disclose that it was raining wildly on the Friday that Tim and I went to BSB, absolutely gale-force-bucketing down. Fortunately the restaurant itself provides warm, glowing sanctuary from the outside world, and I was instantly drawn in, like a death's head moth to a light source. Tim and I were presented quite quickly with our burgers, resplendently stacked upon the clean, smooth shoulder bone of an erstwhile cow. A neat pile of fries and a small dish of tomato sauce completed the meal. Despite burgers being relatively modern it really has a rather prehistoric look to it, hence the name - although its earthy decadence wouldn't feel entirely out of place on Game of Thrones, either. (Tim: um, did it occur to you that the T-Rex name might also be to do with Chef Rex Morgan? Me: omg...no. For shame.)
My dapper date. We were recommended the Tuatara APA (Aotearoa Pale Ale!) and the Emerson's Bookbinder to go with. They're both great beers, although we felt the clean maltiness of the Bookbinder went slightly better with the burger. Wine bar though it may be, the range of beers available at BSB is brilliant.
The coolest bits: I, for one, was impressed by the imposingly large bone-as-plate conceit. It just looks reeeeally cool. But that aside, the burger was disarmingly good. Beef upon beef, in the form of a chuck steak patty with BBQ short rib on top, celery mayo, lettuce, tomato all in the clasp of a substantive sesame seed bun. The beef was...sublime. The patty thick and rare, tasting properly of steak, undiluted real steak. The short rib - which I initially thought was brisket, since it had that shredded, falling-apart consistency - was ridiculous. Almost, I want to say, creamy? Just soft and tender and hinting at smoke and tomato sauce and vinegar without distracting from the pure beef flavour at hand. The pile of hand-cut fries didn't look enormous, but were happily the ideal quantity. I like my fries a little crisper, but they were certainly the hot, goldenly salty accompaniment you want with this kind of food. The eye for detail extended to the tomato sauce, cooling, tangy and thick, and tasting of very recent construction. It was a spectacularly hearty thing to be eating on such a bleakly cold day, and it was quite clear how it managed to win last year's competition.
I really wanted to lick my knife, as is my wont, but this place was not only fancy, but in public.
On a scale of 1 to I Don't Belong Here: 6. On the one hand, this is a relatively tidily priced lunch. On the other hand, I'd never been to Boulcott Street Bistro in my life before because I had this feeling it was slightly out of my reach, and made only for Rich People and Tim on his occasional 80s-style long lunches. So, it was exciting to be able to get through the doors finally, but I wouldn't call this lunch unachievable in real life. Which is super!
Would I do this for not-free? I definitely would. I mean, I couldn't quite insouciantly drop $20 on a lunch casually every day of the week (especially not Payday Eve), but if I framed it as a weekday-improving treat yo'self treat: sure! Achievable as. Last month they had a $20 T-Bone steak lunch, so keep an eye on them for what fun will unfold in future months. And you really do taste every last penny. In fact I'd pay a million bucks to just get that swoony short rib recipe.
Earnest thanks for making me feel fancy to: Boulcott Street Bistro, 99 Boulcott Street, Wellington. Ph 04 499 4199.