Duke Carvell’s Wellington aka Duke Carvell’s Emporium aka Duke Carvell’s Swan Lane Emporium depending on your fondness for wordiness appears to at first glance tick all of the boxes of a modern day restaurant (or should I say bar/eatery). Located down a laneway off Cuba Street, enter through the front door and you’re soon greeted by staff members attired in the requisite old style/hipster clothing. Moustaches and tattoos are present to round out the check list.
The vibe is aristocratic mansion library and very eclectic. I liked it and there was no shortage of interesting things to distract me on the walls and shelves while I was waiting for my meal.
Where Duke Carvell’s veers from the script is when it comes to the food. There’s no trend being followed here – just a selection of dishes with a focus on flavour and quality ingredients. A focused selection of local and international wines, local craft beers, and cocktails is also available.
Service is great, and the staff are very attentive and really know their way around the menu. My friend and I ordered one of the lunch specials, which gave us an entree, main, dessert and a glass of wine for $35. During the evenings the menu is more extensive and contains plenty of share plates.
My friend ordered the pumpkin soup which he quite enjoyed.
Duck Liver Parfait With Toasted Sourdough & Martinborough Apple Jelly
This was delicious. A generous piece of melt in your mouth duck liver parfait served with the classic combination of jelly and toast really hit the spot.
Pan Seared Haloumi With Grilled Fennel, Orange, Cous Cous & Tamarillo Dressing
The saltiness of the haloumi was well balanced against the sweet/tartness of the tamarillo. There were a lot of textures going on in this dish and it tasted great.
Lamb Rack With Parsnip Puree, Shaved Bean Sprout & Shaved Radish Salad
My friend ordered the lamb and was very happy with it. Tasty and cooked just right.
Rhubarb & Meringue Pie With Lemon Curd
This stood out on the menu as the dessert to order and my friend and I both chose it. It was a fitting way to end what was a great lunch. The rhubarb itself was not super sweet, with the sweetness of the meringue bringing the sugar levels to just the right point. The lemon curd added a nice tartness to the pie if desired.
Flocking To The Duke’s Harem ($24.00)
Wellington’s annual food festival, Wellington On A Plate was, by sheer coincidence, on at the same time that I was in Wellington. There was lots going on food wise, including the burger challenge. Many of Wellington’s restaurants entered a challenge to create a burger to put on their menus during the festival. It was to be matched with one of three Garage Project beers that had just been launched in cans.
Given how much we loved our meal a few days earlier, my friends (a few more friends joined us for Beervana weekend) and I returned to Duke Carvell’s to try their burger. Confit lamb shoulder patty, Zany Zeus halloumi, pomegranate-pickled red cabbage, tahini yoghurt and cos lettuce, with za’atar-seasoned shoestring fries was what was set out in front of us – it was unique and delicious.
I really enjoyed Duke Carvell’s. Great service, great food and drinks and a diverse crowd made for a very enjoyable meal and the next time I’m in town I’ll be making another visit for sure.
Duke Carvell’s Swan Lane Emporium
3 Swan Lane
Telephone: (04) 385 2240
Mon – Fri: 12:00am to 1:00pm
Sat – Sun: 9:00am to 12:00pm