There's no question that Newtown's latest New Zealand-themed restaurant, Bach Eatery, serves the best Kiwi cuisine in town — and not just because there's no competition. Which begs the question, what exactly is New Zealand cuisine? Here it translates to an unfussed mix of seafood and country cooking, with a pav and sav of course.
'Bach' (pronounced 'batch') is what our quirky Pacific neighbours call a beach house, and while we may be a good 10km from the shore, Bach Eatery still manages to create a relaxed sanctuary from the chaotic King Street foot traffic. At the entrance you'll find hooks for hanging your towel, but since this is Newtown go ahead and hang your satchel instead. A casual, laidback environment is created through a mix of soft stools and wooden benches, a blue feature wall with seaside motifs, a touch of greenery and a surfboard in the corner. Where are we again?
Led by former Bistro Moncur executive chef and resident Kiwi Darrien Potaka, the menu offers a dozen sharing plates ranging from individual portions to large plates. Don't skip over the smaller bites, which turn out to be surprisingly clever, technique-driven morsels, especially the prawn and pea arancini with crab bisque aioli ($4 each) and the white truffle potato dumplings, wrapped in a fried wonton and served on lime aioli ($4 each).
From the sea, there's New Zealand sourced king salmon ($18) and Cloudy Bay surf clams ($14), although in my opinion, nothing compares to the freshly caught and shucked stuff. Instead, try the honest country fare, which includes a beetroot and heirloom carrot salad with ricotta and hazelnuts ($16), and a simply divine 16-hour slow-cooked lamb shoulder ($22), served in shreds alongside sweet carrot puree and buttery Brussels sprouts with deep-fried leaves for texture.
Lemon & Paeroa, which is New Zealand's answer to Solo, makes an appearance in the Berry & Paeroa cocktail ($18), alongside berry-infused rum, mint and a squeeze of lime for balance. New Zealand produces some of the world's best sav blancs (or so they tell us), and the menu boasts a few special bottles you won't find elsewhere. Otherwise, there's well-priced Monteith's Golden Lager on tap ($5.50).
For dessert, there's a playful remake of the Jelly Tip, the NZ ice-block of choice. While the original version is a choc-coated vanilla and jelly popsicle, Bach uses white chocolate mousse and raspberry gel, finished in melted chocolate with macerated strawberries ($12).
As you may have guessed, there's also a pavlova ($12) on the menu. While this dish often generates much contention — specifically over whether it originated in Australia or New Zealand — after such a delightful meal, I'm inclined to let them have it.
Russell Crowe, of course, is still ours.
Venue images by Bodhi Liggett. Food images by Creative Soldier.