A little white ago Mr Cake and I went for lunch with some friends to Maginnity's - a lovely wee restaurant in the boutique Wellesley Hotel. Unfortunately we were very disappointed by our experience there and I wrote a pretty unhappy review, which I definitely don't like doing! However, about a week ago I got a very nice email from John Speak, the head chef, apologising for what happened to us and asking if Mr Cake and I would give them another chance. I'm all in favour of businesses trying to fix things when they go wrong, so of course we said yes.
We arrived at 12, as planned, and were greeted warmly and shown to our table. Our waiter was very friendly, and told us what the fish in the fish dishes was then left us to make our decision. The lunch menu has been updated since our last visit, when the menu was (I believe) the same as the dinner menu. The new lunch menu includes some 'lighter' lunch options (inverted commas as the meals were very generous!), which are also cheaper, and there are a selection of 'sandwiches', which all sound delicious - and there are some items more along the dinner lines, so you can still linger over a gourmet lunch, which might take a little longer to cook, if you prefer. I was impressed with the changes; the sandwiches and other lunchy items, aside from being potentially much quicker to serve, also make me much more inclined to take friends there, as I know not everyone values their food enough to pay $25 for lunch - and they showed that the chef had put some thought into what lunchtime diners might be looking for. :-)
I ordered the fish (tarakihi) and chips, while Mr Cake opted for the beef burger. They sound boring, yes, but both were excellent (I do love fish and chips, though I always feel a bit daft ordering them in a restaurant!). My fish was tender and perfect, with crispy, hot beer batter, not overly greasy, and the serving was generous, with three large pieces of tarakihi. The sauce tartare wasn't overwhelming and went well with the fish - and it's always nice to have a bit of salad with this type of meal! I wasn't in love with the chips but there was nothing wrong with them - my affections in the starchy vegetable section may have been diverted to the side dish of roast buttercup pumpkin we ordered. This was oh-so soft, so caramelised and the hazelnuts went really well with the pumpkin. The only problem here was that actually our mains were already plenty big enough and it was impossible to finish everything!
Mr Cake's burger made a pretty quick transition from his plate to his belly, and the little bit I convinced him to part with tasted great - the beef was cooked really nicely, not dry at all (as so many burger patties can be) and well seasoned. I'm a sucker for caramelised onions and think all burgers should include some, so the onion jam was a winner too.
The waiter asked if we would like dessert or coffee, but although the desserts did look very tempting (brulee with caramelised pineapple, anyone?) our bellies were fairly bursting, and Mr Cake wasn't keen to spend too much time away from work since he has a busy week, so we waddled back to our offices, thoroughly satisfied. We had a delicious lunch, and I arrived back in the office 45 minutes after I left so speed was definitely not an issue today. Both of us really enjoyed our meals and would choose to go back there should a suitable occasion present itself - and I just might have to make that visit sooner rather than later so I can try that brulee! (creme brulee is a fully balanced meal, especially when served with caramelised pineapple. You know it's too good not to be true...)
We were very impressed today but without the chef's email would never have gone back - whats's your policy; do you give restaurants a second chance or is it one strike and they're out?
Maginnity's is located in the Wellesley Boutique Hotel, 2-8 Maginnity Street, Wellington, ph 04 474 1308, www.wellesleyboutiquehotel.co.nz. Mr and Mrs Cake dined as guests of Maginnity's.