Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Zomato Foodie Meet Up - Three Lamps Bar & Eatery

I was lucky enough to be invited to April's Zomato Foodie Meet Up which was held at Three Lamps Bar & Eatery. Zomato is a relatively new (to New Zealand) online restaurant guide with restaurant menus and information as well as reviews and a mobile app. Reviewers are ranked based on points given for a review and 'thanks' given. The website encourages a 'foodie community' where you are able to follow, comment and thank reviewers for reviews and photos*. They reward reviewers with restaurant vouchers with their write for a bite competition as well as holding Foodie Meet Ups each month. 

This was my first time at Three Lamps Bar & eatery and they definitely made an a great first impression. I love my craft beers so I was amazed to learn that Three Lamps have 222 different beers, that's a whole lotta beer! They pride themselves on their extensive craft beer collection and have over 100 craft beers for $9. Fortunately their staff is very knowledgeable about the beers and are able to make helpful suggestions. They had Emerson’s on tap but I wanted to try something new so told them that I liked Emerson’s bookbinder and was given Trooper, created by Iron Maiden (yes, that Iron Maiden) and brewed by Robinsons. It was a spot on recommendation. Their beers on tap also change regularly. Three Lamps have a beer club and host events where they invite a brewery to showcase their beer which is matched with food. Past breweries include Moa, Tuatara and Shippers.

For the Foodie Meet Up we were served a selection of entrées, mains and desserts to share each with a beer match. I wish I had taken notes about the different beers but I didn't want to look a nerd. Also apologies about the quality of the photos, it was dark and I don't have any photography skills*. 

To start we had a trio of seafood dishes paired with Harrington’s Saddler Lager. The dishes were; Whiskey Cured Salmon with Horseradish Cream Cheese and Fish Tacos, Sizzling Chilli & Garlic Prawns. They were all delicious and I would happily order any of them again but the standout dish was the Whiskey Cured Salmon which was served with beetroot and bread. The beetroot had been marinated in balsamic vinegar and orange and while the salmon didn’t taste too strongly of salmon it was perfectly accompanied with the horseradish cream cheese. 

Next were the Beef Cheek Sliders and Mushroom & Blue Cheese Sliders paired with the Liberty Yakima Monster APA. I’m a huge blue cheese fan so I slightly preferred the mushroom slider but the Beef Cheek slider was also fantastic, it had a wonderful tangy sauce and a healthy amount of melted cheese.The buns were light and fluffy and tasted they were fresh out of the oven. 

The first main was the Crispy Skin Salmon & Risotto with Wasabi and Capsicum Coulis and was paired with the Baird Rising Sun Pale Ale. This was one of my standout dishes for the evening. The risotto was prawn and lime and it was creamy and delicious. It wasn’t too rich as some risottos can be as it had plenty of lime which really cut through the cream. The salmon was cooked to perfection with a beautiful crispy skin and moist flesh. The wasabi coulis was good but I couldn’t really taste the wasabi flavour. The dish was also one of the most impressive looking of the evening. 

The Boil Up was next and was paired with the Dogfish 60 Minute IPA, aptly named as it is continuously hopped with more than 60 hop additions over a 60 minute boil. I haven’t had boil up in years so I was very excited to try this dish. It was a very large portion which would be perfect for sharing and was served with crusty bread to dip in the soup. The soup was delicious and hearty, full of veggies and hebs as well as pork bones and doughboys (herb dumplings). The doughboys, which are made from suet, were quite small but I really liked the flavour from the herbs and seasonings. 

The Venison Pie was paired with Newcastle Brown Ale and served with pumpkin and kumara mash and broccoli and cabbage cooked in cream. The pie had a beautiful, puff pastry top which was crispy and light. I am used to the taste of wild venison (thanks Dad!) and found the meat very mild in taste so it would be good for people who aren’t keen on venison due to the gamey flavour. The mash was flavoursome and not too lumpy (as my pumpkin/kumara mash often is) and the broccoli and cabbage was well seasoned. This is definitely a dish I could see myself ordering in the middle of winter. 

The Lamb Three Ways was the final main and was paired with the Flying Dog Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout (fun fact, it is made with oysters). The three ways were shepherd’s pie, crumbed cutlets and roast shoulder with baby vegetables. The shepherd’s pie was served in an adorable little saucepan (I’m pretty sure I need one) and had a lovely crispy cheese top and flavoursome meat mixture below. It wasn’t too soupy as some shepherds pies can be but had a lovely rich flavour. The crumbed cutlet wasn’t overcooked and was nice and pink in the middle, I didn’t get to try the crumbed crust but it looks delicious. I think the roast shoulder was my favourite of the three and was served in a cast iron pan with the delicious lamb juices. The lamb was melt in the mouth and included the thick layer of fat which I know many don’t like but I love, you don’t need to eat it and it really adds flavour as the lamb is roasting. The side vegetables were served with butter and fresh parsley and the carrots had a nice crunch to them. The Flying Dog Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout was my favourite beer of the evening. 

For dessert we were served Espresso Crème Brulee with shortbread which was paired with the Sierra Nevada Porter and Cinnamon Donuts paired with Wells Banana Bread Beer. The Crème brulee was the only dish of the evening that was disappointing, it was probably my fault as I had been saying all night how I was looking forward to it and I jinxed it. The crème brulee had been caramelised and then left sitting too long before being served as the top had soften into toffee and could not be broken, however the espresso custard was delicious. The donuts were served nice and hot in a paper bag with a chocolate dipping sauce. I liked the flavour of the donuts but they were a little bit chewy for me. The banana bread beer was very sweet, which I liked, and went really well with the donuts. A cheese board was also bought out with Whitestone cheddar, apple and pear slices and crackers. It was beautifully presented and was paired with a beer which unfortunately I did not get the name of (I had had a fair few beers by this time…). 

By the end I had a few beers on the go at the same time.

All in all it was a fabulous evening with amazing food and beer. I normally do not associate great food with pubs but it seems that this is exactly what Three Lamps Bar & eatery has achieved. An incredible craft beer selection and an excellent menu too! The restaurant has been split in to a bar and a restaurant so if you don’t have time for dinner Three Lamps would be a great place to go for after work drinks. I’m really looking forward to attending one of their beer club events and will definitely be back to try more of their craft beers. 

A humongous thank you to Zomato and Three Lamps Bar & Eatery for an amazing an evening. It was so lovely to meet everyone and discuss food and beer (and Masterchef, come on Nikki and Jordan). Here are my fellow Foodie Meet Ups' blogs/Zomato profiles: 
AriettaDanJude and BarryKateKristy and Lucy and Jason 

* I haven't received many thanks on my photos, I really need to work on my photography skills. 
** Yet... Watch this space.