fancy plans and pants to match: the library

Well hello there, and welcome to another installment of Fancy Plans and Pants to Match, where I’m all, “hey pals, sometimes nice things happen to me because I’m a cool food blogger but in my defense I’m going to be juuust self-deprecating enough about it to make you feel comfortable and relaxed”.

I used to avoid talking about it in case I came across as an unrelatable prig who was excited by nothing and filled with ennui by everything, but it turns out that while I can never be that unexcited person I probably should worry about pushing people away by using the word “prig”. Anyway! The name Fancy Plans and Pants to Match is a quote from the wondrous Jimmy James, a character in the woefully slept-on 90s sitcom NewsRadio. And in case all this wasn’t quite enough of a thrilling ride for you, I have a giveaway, whaaaat (imagine me sounding an airhorn right now, if you would be so kind) for a $100 voucher for The Library. You could scroll right to the end for the instructions on how to enter and ignore this post, but just know that I’ll know. Oh, I’ll know. I always know. But also there’s nothing I can do about it, so yeah, really, scroll by merrily if you wish!


so here’s the thing: I was invited to eat and drink up large at The Library, a baller bar and live music venue in town. This kind of sybaritic activity is exactly how I’d like to live my life but so rarely get to, so it was some kind of wonderful to have this opportunity.

the pitch: The Library has long been known for their excellent cocktails and desserts, but they have very recently updated their food menu, and so there’s no better time to do some investigating into these developments with one’s mouth.  

what happened: In the interests of clutching at any brief opportunity to look cool and like a hell of a swell about town, being all rakish and debonaire and decadent, I brought my girlfriend along as my plus one. We were given a number of options for seating, and decided upon the secret dining room, a pleasingly sneaky nook hidden behind a curtain, with a window looking over Courtenay Place, The Library’s signature ceiling-high shelves piled with books, and, the most important thing: perfect light for taking selfies. 

this is the prawn cocktail salad, not a selfie. But how cute would a prawn taking a selfie be! Anyway.

The new menu is positively rippling with flavours and playful, interesting takes on established combinations. For the indecisive amongst us (hi!) this could be fraught-making, but the size of the plates lends them well to ordering many and sharing amongst a few. We started with a cocktail each – the Mrs Peacock (blueberries, raspberry gin, sparkling wine) and Roses Are Red (rose wine, raspberries, cranberry juice, rosewater, rose petals), both the colour of velvety theatre curtains and both a glorious way to start the meal. I believe my words to the impressively mellow person serving us were “I would like to take a bath in this stuff”. After much deliberation, we chose the following:

Prawn Cocktail Salad, with prawns, smoked salmon, bloody mary mayonnaise (verdict: punchy, crunchy, retro-fun…chy)
Honey Marinated Salmon, with cauliflower puree, avocado mousse, and pickled vegetables (verdict: how’d they get the salmon so utterly tender and pink, how, also the pickled vegetables were the perfect textural contrast to all that satiny puree)
Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella with basil gremolata, 12 hour tomatoes and olive oil caviar (verdict: milky soft cheese, basil and slowly-cooked tomatoes made sweet and intense will always be an ideal combination. The olive oil caviar was very cute, but maybe didn’t add much other than cool visuals – this may be my heathenish self being unappreciative of subtlety, though.)
Beef Carpaccio, with wine barrel smoked mushrooms, shaved parmesan and micro greens (verdict: Wow. How dare you. This is frankly too, too good. I’m outraged.)
Tempura Tuna, with soba noodle salad and wasabi mayonnaise (verdict: the feather-light tempura, super-rich rare tuna, and cold, slippery, sesame-tinged noodles were wonderful together.)
Smoked Brioche Bruschetta, with wild mushrooms and sage butter (Verdict: okay, how did something so simple, which we almost overlooked, taste like wandering through the forest after the rain, like jumping into a pile of autumn leaves, like…sturdy boots – oh wait that last one is kind of insulting. This was just really, really excellent.)

honey marinated salmon: a veritable symphony of textures, if you ask me

tempura tuna with soba noodle salad: my hair is so shiny after all this omega action

We finished with two mighty fine Old Fashioned cocktails (that’s one each, but I do like the thought of clutching one in each hand and not leaving till the Angostura bitter end) and we shared Organic Pineapple and Raspberry Sorbets which were so damn fresh and smooth and the only way they could’ve been bursting with more real fruit flavour would’ve been if they were one of those suspiciously fake-tasting fruit lollies which tend to insist in their advertising campaigns that they are, in fact, bursting with real fruit flavour. If that makes sense.

even in the face of unutterable fullness, there’s always room for sorbet.

beef carpaccio, I shall now tell you how I feel about it through the medium of passionate interpretive dance

the best bit: Everything was straight up brilliant. Service, the place itself, the food, the drinks, everything. However, the standout dishes were the beef carpaccio and the smoked brioche. Carpaccio is one of those dishes I only want to pay for, because, like hair cuts, it’s better done by other people. If I tried to do it myself there would just be roughly-hewn chunks of steak everywhere (same goes for trying to do haircuts to be honest.) This was silky layer upon silky layer of cool, rich beef, with thin slivers of parmesan and juicy mushrooms and every time I think about it I feel like I’m clenching my fists and standing in the rain in a dramatic music video, that’s how good it was. Perfect ingredients, presented very simply. Perfect. The brioche arrived in a smoke filled dome, which I loved, and despite being something we picked offhand from the menu it was indubitably a favourite. Buttery bread, buttery actual butter, lushly savoury mushrooms tumbled over, everything kissed with smoke. You know a meal is good when you find yourself shouting metaphors and richly detailed imagery at it to illustrate how it makes you feel, rather than just eating it.


it’s what’s on the inside that counts

on a scale of one to is this the real life, is this just fantasy: While The Library is somewhere I’d happily wander into for a drink and a snack of an evening, this particular all-bets-are-off evening was like an actual don’t-pinch-yourself-because-you-don’t-want-to-wake-up lucid dream. I give it a nine.

would I do it for not-free: Okay, so I literally cannot afford to recreate the exact quantities that we ate and drank anytime soon, but I am so enamoured with the food that I will most definitely be back to revisit some of the brilliant things we had and to try some more. The coconut coated smoked halloumi, hand-cut potato skins with pecorino and proscuitto, and rare beef fillet with parsnip whip, beetroot tartar and kumara crisps could not be calling my name any harder right now.

more cocktails! The Fresh Prince (gin, elderflower, cucumber, apple juice, celery bitters, lemon, mint) and the Pin Up Fizz (gin, strawberry, lemon, lavender bitters, egg white, cream, sparkling water) one elegant and crisp and one cute and frothy, both way delicious. 

earnest thanks for making me feel fancy to: The Library, upstairs at 53 Courtenay Place, Wellington. 04 382 8593 / Cheers the the wondrous team there for finding us such a fun table, for being so knowledgeable about everything, and for being entirely chill about catching us taking selfies pretty much every time they walked in.

so you want to win a $100 voucher: Well done, you made it to the end of this long post so I’m gonna finally tell you how. The extremely good people at The Library have given me a voucher for one hundred damn dollars to give away to one of you.

All you have to do is the following.

1) Be in New Zealand (better yet, Wellington, for obvious reasons, but as long as you can feasibly get to Wellington at some point I guess you’re all good)
2) Leave a comment on this blog post recommending me a song you’ve been loving lately. It doesn’t have to be anything brand new, just something that has been making you feel some things in your heart whenever you play it. Seriously, whatever song you like (there are three acts that I truly detest in this life: Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits and Phil Collins, but like, in the interest of “fairness” and “ethics” I won’t discount you if you mention something by any of them.)
3) Around midday Sunday February 22 I will select a winner at random, and will announce it on my blog’s Facebook Page. I’ll attempt to get in touch with you via email or whatever if I can work out how, but otherwise you’ve got around 24 hours or so to get back to me, otherwise I’ll have to pick someone else, okay?

PS: The Fancy Plans and Pants to Match archive is here, and feel free to get in touch with me anytime if you’re a haver of fanciness out there who wants me to check out your goods.

47 thoughts on “fancy plans and pants to match: the library

  1. Char says:

    Oooooh! This is so great and fancy!

    I am listening to Master Pretender by First Aid Kit on repeat. So good! So darn catchy!

    Side note: are flatmates allowed to enter? *dubious but hopeful*


  2. Kim says:

    Angostura bitter end! <3 <3 <3

    I never would have thought to eat food that isn't dessert at The Library before but this all looks soooo gooood. And their cocktails are always amazing so.
    I just can't stop listening to Sia current fave of hers that isn't a single right now is Hostage.


  3. Briar says:

    That brioche, tho… so, life is made better and strongly harking back to my teenage self (I miss her) with No Cities To Love by Sleater-Kinney. Especially the video featuring various ladybabes.


  4. G says:

    yum! And I will definitely be returning here for some new music inspiration – what a great idea for a giveaway. I've been listening to “pixies” by the shifting sands on repeat recently – they are a Dunedin band and I think they are pretty great.


  5. Em says:

    The salmon looks SO amaze.
    I am really digging Daffodils (Mark Ronson ft. Kevin Parker). So grooveable! So danceable! So driveable! I mean, I don't have a car, but I'm sure you can feel where I'm coming from.


  6. Sarah says:

    So very, very fancy!!! I'm listening to a lot of Amy Winehouse at the moment… in particular “you know that I'm no good”. Perfect mix between catchy & melancholy.


  7. Gem Wilder says:

    Well I'm sold. The Library will be my first port of call come payday. The song that is singing to my soul at the moment is the Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings version of What Condition My Condition Was In. I've always loved the song, but this version just elevates it to a whole new level of cool.


  8. Anonymous says:

    Ooh, nommity nom – everything looks fabulous! Song I just can't get enough of atm is Belle & Sebastian's “Power of Three” off their fantastic new album. Crazy electro 80s disco goodness.


  9. GeekChicPolitiq says:

    I've been haunting YouTube lately – Shake It Off because the video makes me laugh, a live Te Reo version of Royals for the same reason, and both Chandelier and Elastic Heart because the videos are hypnotic. And Yellow Flicker Beat because DAMN.


  10. vee says:

    laura i have a date next week with a babe and if it goes well i want this voucher to be able to woo her further. my winning song rec for u is obvs the entire sound track to matilda the movie bcoz lez be real. it is literally the best. best movie, best songs, best mara wilson. etc etc.


  11. Vanessa says:

    Oh god all of this, all of it, it looks so amazing. I am frankly obsessed with Pray to God by Haim at the moment. The internet says it's Calvin Harris FEAT Haim but let's be real, it's clearly Haim that bring all the reasons why it's so great.


  12. Jessica P says:

    Love the library….food looks really exciting too!

    Actually, Childish Gambino 3005. Weird, as I'm normally more of a Beatles kind of a girl, but rap may just be my new thing for 2015.


  13. Kelly says:

    Gonna give you two cuz I can never make decisions:
    1) KATIE QUEEN OF TENNESSEE by The Apache Relay
    2) STYLE by Taylor Swift
    3) FLAWLESS by Bey.

    (I also can't count).



  14. Asher Wilson-Goldman says:

    If I win this I will spend the entire thing on dessert & dessert cocktails. Yum.

    The song that's been occupying my head lately is I've Got a Theory from the musical episode of Buffy. It's stuck in there after watching it twice in the last few weeks and just won't leave, though that's not a bad thing!


  15. Anna Monson says:

    I've been dying to try the Library's new menu..they really triumph with their snacks and desserts!

    I've been listening to “Heat Wave” by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. Such an awesome movie flashback song to transition from modern day to the 1960s. It's doub-ley awesome as that intro to the song was sampled by the Lovin' Spoonful in their song “Do You Believe In Magic”


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