Porcini Cafe – Bistro & Pizzeria, Helensville
25 Commercial Road, Helensville. Ph: 420 8025
It was a wet Queens Birthday weekend and unusually our ‘foodie’ friends all found themselves with no major plans for the long weekend. This called for a group dinner but rather than trekking into town we decided to try Porcini in Helensville since we had heard along the grapevine that it was getting rave reviews.
It was Saturday evening, we dolled ourselves up knowing we could possible stick out like part of a dogs anatomy in Helensville and headed up North with mixed expectations of what was to come.
We opened the restaurant door to a very welcoming smell of food being lavishly cooked in garlic. There was a cosy European style bistro atmosphere that gave off a vibe of punters really enjoying their evening.
The menu offered a range of mains, pizza & pasta dishes. We had eaten a few nibbles before dinner so we decided to share a main dish of raviolli filled with Porcini mushroom, baked in a bacon, garlic, spinach cream sauce ($21.50) as an entrée between 5 of us and ‘he who shall remain nameless’ had an Avocado baked with mushrooms and scallops ($17.50) to himself. I did get a taste of the avocado entrée which was an absolute winner. The warm avacado gave a sensational creamy base for the scallops, I would pick this one again next time all for myself
The mains we chose were Twice roasted duck with a rich Grand Marnier jus ($36.50) , which gave us all a chuckle when it arrived since half a duck filled have the plate but it mean there was enough for to sample. It was beautifully tender, with little fat and a crispy aromatically spiced skin. Both the Pork Fillet Marsala with a garlic mushroom cream sauce ($29.90) and the Scotch Fillet Steak smothered with mushroom & red wine jus, served on horseradish mash ($35.50) were cooked to perfection and hearty portions like the duck. Athough the steak was a little more cooked than requested it did not deter from the enjoyment of thevdish. I chose from the specials board, having worked in the industry I know this is often is an outlet for the chef’s creative flair from the regular menu. The medium rare venision served with a pan jus ($36.50) was perfectly cooked and the rich pan jus would put any flashy restaurant to shame.
Feeling rather full after our mains we shared desserts of sticky date pudding, crème brulee, tirimisu and pecan & honey tart. We enjoyed them all except the tirimisu which was a little liquidy. The coffees came with a divine homemade almond and chocolate toffee which I felt outshone the desserts.
The menu is certainly city prices unless you plump for the pizzas, and even though it may not be up to city presentation and plating the standard of the dishes was certainly on a par and the portion size was a lot more generous.
All in all an excellent evening, I would highly recommend a visit and we would certainly go again.