Having recently moved to Brooklyn, I’ve been exploring my new suburb, checking out the various eateries and services in the area. I’m all for supporting local businesses and was delighted to see our suburban bistro and bar Salty Pidgin was hosting Flight Club, a one-night only themed event as part of this year’s Visa Wellington On a Plate festival. Getting tickets to the event was a mission - Jono and I were both glued to our respective computers and only one of us was successful at securing a pair of tickets when it was released for sale in June. Needless to say, the event sold out within minutes! Cost $150 for a general admission ticket ($135 for a seat at the bar) to the degustation with wine pairing.
We arrived in time for the 6pm start and were greeted by the friendly staff at the door who welcomed us with champagne and promptly showed us to our table. Salty Pidgin is by far the most sophisticated of the eateries located in the heart of Brooklyn village - serving quality modern bistro and bar food with an extensive selection of craft beers and wines, the venue was simple yet sleek in design with a laid-back atmosphere. The place was filled with excitement and chatter as champagne continued to flow whilst the last of the event attendees arrived. I loved how the waitstaff had dressed up as flight attendants for the occasion - very apt!
|Staff at Salty Pidgin dressed up as flight attendants for the Flight Club theme|
As the name Flight Club suggests, tonight’s 7-course degustation was a feast of all things winged - bird and fish. Our first course was the House Made Ciabatta, Muttonbird Butter & Pheasant Liver Parfait paired with Cosmos Methode Traditionelle NV (Gisborne), the wonderful bubbly we’ve been sipping on since our arrival. The pheasant liver parfait was beautiful though we can’t help feeling guilty thinking about how many pheasants were 'sacrificed' in the making of this parfait (pheasant = small = lots of livers required). But it was oh so good - I need another crusty ciabatta so I can polish off this parfait!
The muttonbird butter was very intriguing - given I’ve never tasted muttonbird before, I wasn’t sure what to expect and was surprised to find the butter liken to anchovy butter, salty with a strong taste of fish. An acquired taste for some if you’re not a fan of anchovies or sardines. Now you might be wondering, what is muttonbird? Also known as Sooty Shearwater or tītī in Maori, muttonbird is the young shearwaters that are harvested just before they are about to fledge. It is rare to find this Maori delicacy served in restaurants - the only time I’ve seen it featured on a menu was at a restaurant in Stewart Island (even then, the dish was not available). The bird relies on a seafood-rich diet thus giving its meat a fishy flavour; the saltiness comes from preserving the bird in brine.
Our next course was the Chermoula Marinated Snapper or Warehou Wing paired with Gladstone Vineyards Viognier 2016 (Wairarapa). We were served a snapper and warehou wing respectively which we shared. The chermoula version was definitely the better of the two as it was more flavoursome though I didn’t feel I got much out of the course that was mainly fish fin and skin deep fried in batter. Add to that, it was a real pain trying to pry any edible bits using a knife and fork.
|House Made Ciabatta, Muttonbird Butter & Pheasant Liver Parfait |
|Chermoula Marinated Snapper Wing|
The third course was Muttonbird, Smoked Beetroot, Pea Vinaigrette, Quail Egg paired with Henri Bourgeois ‘Les Baronnes’ Sancerre 2015 (Loire, France) featuring one of the event highlights - the muttonbird! Jono’s dish was served without any muttonbird but it was quickly rectified when the waitstaff was informed. The meat was very dark and does have a mutton-like texture (which was how the name muttonbird was derived) served shredded in a small quantity which was ideal as it was very salty. Perfectly combined with the pea vinaigrette and wine to cut through the saltiness.
|Muttonbird, Smoked Beetroot, Pea Vinaigrette, Quail Egg|
Course #4 was the Poached Silky Bantam, Ginger Broth, Wombok, Pancetta paired with Tin Can ‘Wilful White’ Pinot Gris et al 2016 (Nelson). Less overpowering in flavour compared to the previous course, this Asian-influenced dish brought back fond memories of the Chinese herbal chicken soup I’ve had growing up in Malaysia. The Pinot Gris was not aromatic like most I’ve sampled to date but surprisingly goes very well with the dish making the wine taste better.
|Poached Silky Bantam, Ginger Broth, Wombok, Pancetta|
The pacing between dishes started to slow down as the night progressed. I was beginning to feel rather tipsy from all the wine and not consuming enough food...Course #5 was the Duck & Pear Bastilla, Herb Salad paired beautifully with Mountford Estate Pinot Noir 2011 (Waipara). The Bastilla is a Moroccan dish similar to a pie with a meat and herb filling covered in a light, crispy pastry shell and garnished with cinnamon sugar to further enhance its exotic flavours.
|Duck & Pear Bastilla, Herb Salad|
The final main course was the Pidgin, Celeriac, Baby Turnip, Prune Chocolate, Pickled Walnut paired with Treloar Grenache 2012 (Languedoc, France). The pigeon was served medium rare and had great flavour, however, was chewy and difficult to cut through with our cutlery - I eventually gave up and nibbled at what I could. Love the sweet-tasting baby turnips!
To conclude the degustation, we finished off with the Duck Egg Custard Square, Honey Sponge, Honeycomb paired with the delicious Chapoutier Mucscat Beumes de Venise Rhone (France) for dessert. A welcomed change for the taste buds from all the savouries we’ve had this evening. The duck egg custard had a more ‘intense’ flavour and colour compared to traditional custard and combined with the sponge and honeycomb made for an interesting mix of sensation in the mouth.
|Pidgin, Celeriac, Baby Turnip, Prune Chocolate, Pickled Walnut|
|Duck Egg Custard Square, Honey Sponge, Honeycomb|
The event wrapped up around 9.30pm, the doors opened to the general public again and the bistro resuming its usual business. Flight Club was a great introduction to Salty Pidgin and sets a high bar on the level of quality and service you can expect from this restaurant. I would have preferred a better food to wine serving ratio for the degustation - great that they were generous with the wine serving and offering seconds, not so good leaving the event feeling super tipsy and still a bit hungry. We will have to return to Salty Pidgin another day to try out their dinner and brunch menus. I’m super glad we have such a gem in our suburb!
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