There is a lovely bit of theatre near the end of an evening of some stupendous dining at Pasture. The lights turn down low, the music – which has been a smooth glide through the pop classics of the ’80s – suddenly rocks out while chef/owner Ed Verner starts fanning the flames of the wood-fired oven. He’s charring the large piece of NZ wagyu that, prior to this point, has been slowly warming off to the side. The music is AC/DC, the song ‘Hell’s Bells’ and it’s a glorious moment in the evening. While the song makes me laugh, I think it’s also rather telling of the development of Pasture.

The food has always been worthy, considered and precise, but it looks as though Verner is also beginning to enjoy himself, allowing a not-so-serious side to come through and, at the same time, allowing this epic piece of beef the acknowledgment it deserves. Bought in whole, butchered and aged for 5 months in house, no doubt at great expense, it’s something we need to savour and respect. And that we do. The beef is, of course, meltingly tender, the char crisp and delectable while the thin sliver of fat served on the side accentuates the flavour.

What has changed is the way service operates. Two services an evening, with only six diners per session. Seated at the counter overlooking the fire, it allows for interaction and to watch the methodical and careful finishing and plating of dishes. The chefs introduce the food, talk about the drink pairings and clear the counter. Sometimes over the music and the extractor fan it can be a little hard to hear what they are saying – don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat themselves. Moving the tables out of the dining area has allowed for small lounging spaces and a delightful place to finish your wine and desserts at leisure.

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