The 30 seats Ed Verner opened Pasture with in 2016 might sound boutique, but for Verner, even that wasn’t intimate enough. The Parnell restaurant – crowned by Metro magazine as Auckland’s best – currently offers two services a night of just six diners each, offering Verner a remarkable amount of hands-on control over everything he serves. And when we say “everything” we mean everything, from the bread and butter and charcuterie through to a great many of the drinks on the inventive pairing.
Born in Dorset, Verner fell in love with food in Japan, and then fell for a kiwi girl, which brought him to New Zealand, where he worked at Sidart and Merediths, put his spin on the menu at Stafford Road Wine Bar, and then went back to Europe to work at Relae in Copenhagen and In de Wulf in Belgium, before coming back to NZ to open a restaurant of his own.
The late Jonathan Gold, food critic to the LA Times, cited a dinner cooked at Pasture as the highlight of his 2017 tour of New Zealand (“without a doubt, the finest guanciale crumpet in all the land”).
“The food at Pasture is a miraculous combination of meticulous technique, rustic warmth, deceptive simplicity and grand ambition,” wrote the critics for Metro, while Cuisine called Pasture simply “stupendous”.
Verner, for his part, acknowledges that what he’s doing right now is cooking on the edge.
“I understand I can’t do this forever,” says Verner. “What Pasture is now, it probably won’t be like this in five years’ time. I won’t be able to keep up. Right now, Pasture is in its young, exciting, hedonistic days. What comes next, I don’t know, but this can’t go on forever. I’m going to enjoy this time. I’m going to succeed or it’s just going to go down in flames.”
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