For interesting eating and drinking experiences around Wellington, NZ (and the greater region) – you can also catch Heather over at Know Wellington's Word on the Street Blog…

Butcher and Brewer

BB smoke headerI’d heard good things about Butcher and Brewer, so dug my passport out and went to meet friends at Petone.

B&B is the reincarnation of the old Empire tavern (same owners), and has a nice warm vibe, with decor that made me think of the many swizzy suburban pubs done up in recent years by the breweries or other local cooperatives (gastropub being the technical term these days).

Their point of difference is that they’re into meat, traceable to the grower or supplier, and braised, smoked or slow roasted themselves.

There’s a fair range of mainstream beers and wines, and a selection of BB meat plattercocktails, cocktails, shooters and non-alcs. I had a chuckle at the Bloody Butcher cocktail (equal parts of pepper and citron vodka with spiced tomato juice, worchester sauce and lime served with celery, spinach and crispy smoked bacon) and then settled for a Mac’s ginger beer (driving) which wouldn’t overpower the food.

Most of the meals were served on wooden boards (very appealing), and all had some degree of smokiness. Like many other places these days, a mac’n’cheese side is de rigeur. The half porker was BB haloumi pumpkinjudged moist and satisfying, the cheeky chicken (infused with basil and wrapped in bacon) also moist and flavourful, and both boys commented on the pleasant spinach (what?!). The chargrilled haloumi on spiced butternut puree with spinach and oil got the big thumbs up and the house smoked meatloaf sliders also hit the spot nicely. The side salads were well dressed (not overdressed) and included many crisp colours and textures.

BB meatloaf slidersWe didn’t make it to dessert, but I noted the mini donut medley, and cookies and cream ice cream layered in a mason jar with either chocolate or strawberry sauce for next time.

Although the restaurant area was full, we could easily hear each other and the background was just a nice ambient buzz, along with a bit of retro toe-tapping music and associated videos on the wall to reminisce to.

B&B have a children’s menu, and a number of nooks and crannies if you want a more private or large group session, and various weekday specials. Hard not to be pleased here really.

7 days from 10am (Fri/Sat/Sun) or 11am (rest week).

175 Jackson Street, Petone.
BB MenuBB decorBB cutlery

Long live Logan Brown

LB dessert
Logan Brown have made a few changes in recent months to ensure there’s something for everyone.

It’s still a quality delicious experience, whether you’re doing a full evening of dining, a pre-show graze, dessert and cocktail, or specialty Jazz brunch.

You can read the full detail here.

Il Piccolo

Il Picc signIl Piccolo is a tiny Italian restaurant tucked up Willis Street beside a bakery and an equally tiny Indian restaurant. When I say tiny, they seat about 18pax maximum (if that includes a few fours or sixes to maximise table space).

Having not been there for years, it felt like a nice Friday escape recently.

You won’t need to spend a fortune to have a good time here. The antipasto entrees (various forms of pizza breads) are around $7, the mains (pasta or an impressive list of pizzas) around $16, desserts around $7 (excluding the Affogato at $12) and wine $8 per glass.

Il Pic garlic breadAfter a few early wobbles in relation to double bookings and water needing to be requested a couple of times, we were under way. The garlic bread antipasto was thin crust, light and well balanced in flavour (not too garlicky), and pleasantly seasoned. I like starters that don’t leave you feeling too full from the get go.

The lasagne pasta was a good mix of al dente beneath, and crispy on top, without vast quantities of meat or cheese (traditional) and a nice rosemary herby backnote.

The anchovy, caper, and cheese pizza was also thin crust, with a little softness in the base, and real anchovy fillets on top. The overall comment was a good mix of sweet, sour and salty (and if they don’t have tables Il Pic lasagneavailable, or you live nearby, do get a pizza to take away – there was a steady take away trade going on while we were there).

When dessert time came, I used my well honed skill of choosing the one thing not available – the Bucaneve (cassata gelato essentially) which I was told wasn’t yet set (at least we know it was house made), and ended up with a baby pavlova topped with passionfruit gelato. Again the flavours were well balanced and not overpowering.

Il Pic dessertThe lemon sorbetto was noted as very lemony, and slightly stretchy in texture.

Overall pleasantly sated for a good price, in a warm, cosy and charming environment.

Even if there are a few service or menu wobbles, you’ll still be won over by the sense of being tucked away from the city’s bustle, as if you were dining in nana’s front lounge.

248 Willis Street.Il Pic lamps

Crafters Bottle Store and Foodtrucks

Crafters chillerCrafters Bottle Store is now located at 71 Webb Street, down the back of the carpark behind Hells Pizza (which makes for easy parking), and is more than your standard bottle store.

As well as a big craft beer chiller (thankfully by provider not style for those craft-challenged folk like myself), there’s wine, spirits, Kapiti cheeses, La Bella meats and pasta products, Kapiti artisan bakery breads, Wellington Chocolate Factory goodies, Siggy’s pies, Fix and Fogg peanut butter, Karma cola, Six Barrell Soda syrups, Bonetto award-winning hot chocolate in a bar, and even moustache wax (keep an eye out for cigars possibly making an appearance too).

Crafters trucksAnd not least, food trucks on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons/evenings (until 9pm or sold out).

So you can solve a whole lotta problems in one go here – beer and snacks for the afternoon game, pasta and wine for dinner, hostess gift for a dinner party, top-shelf tipple for later in the evening, hot tasty food right now (assuming Friday or Saturday evenings), wax for your wayward moustache, the list is almost endless.

And if you’re in the commercial bar world, they’ll store and deliver beer to bars as required.

Crafters wineI found the bottle store appealing. Its very clean and clearly laid out, with easy to read wine descriptions and funky touches about the place (like an old worlde globe which opens out to store bottles – not for sale – and beers of the week displayed in a charming wooden crate). The staff were helpful and didn’t make me feel like a noddy. And on two visits I’ve ended up leaving with food goodies that weren’t on my list when I arrived.

They also made gourmet gift baskets for fathers day recently, so keep an eye out for the return of those at specialty times of year.

And are starting to get into events around the place too, so keep an eye on their Facebook page.

9am – 8pm Monday and Tuesday, 9am-9pm Wednesday to Saturday, 10am-7.30pm Sundays.

71 Webb Street.

Crafters globe openCrafters globe shutCrafters beer weekCrafters spiritsCrafters hot chocCrafters mustache

Nam D in the Willis Village

Nam D signageNikki and team have decided to re-use the old Nam restaurant space in the Willis Village to open a Nam D sit-in eatery (D signifying street food) to complement their other Nam D takeaway sites in Cable Car Lane and on Tory Street.

Nam’s food and drinks are inspired by the south of Vietnam (literally meaning the people [Viets] of the south [Nam]), whereas Annam in Featherston Street, also a venture Nikki is involved with, is inspired by middle Vietnam’s Annam area.

Nam D cocktailThe food at Nam D Willis Village will be plates of finger style food, and as per Vietnamese custom will be fresh, crisp, often herb and vegetable based, and balance all five flavour components – sweet, sour, salty, bitter and spicy. The pictures at the bottom were for a large group, but will give you an idea of the offerings – rice paper rolls with tangy or peanutty dipping sauces (there were also crispy fried spring rolls), fried squid, fish cakes, duck and crunchy vege salad cups, crispy fried chicken, grilled jumbo shrimp on a stick (traditionally on sugar cane), and moon and pandan coconut tapioca cakes.

Nam D interiorThey have also created a range of Vietnamese inspired cocktails to complement your grazing (thanks Regan!), including such beauties as salted lychee and coconut fizz (pictured), and mango coconut mojito, and also have a range of beer, wine and non-alcs.

The site has had a bit of a makeover inside and feels welcoming and cosy, with a range of communal tables like you might find in a traditional Vietnamese setting.

Open Wednesdays to Fridays lunch and dinner, and Saturdays dinner only.

148 Willis Street.

Nam D rice rollsNam D squidNam D fishcakesNam D duck saladNam D fried cixNam D shrimpNam D cakes

Burger Welly 2015 cook-off

Burger Welly logoI’m not sure I’d previously noticed a final cook-off to determine the Burger Welly winners each year after the public eating and voting is done. Apparently over 9,000 WOAP eaters voted this year, which gave the top 5 for each of the best burger and best burger/beer match competitions (the beer match using any of co-founder Garage Project’s beers, with some brewed just for the competition).

I was invited along to Le Cordon Bleu last night to see the cook-off in action, with the three judges being Chef Francis Motta of LCB, Davey McDonald from Ortega Fish Shack (on behalf of Garage Project) and Tara Nyström (who won the public competition to be the third judge).

Burger Welly judgingThe most important thing (other than who won) is that the finalists are all encouraged to continue producing their burgers for the next couple of weeks if possible, so keep an eye on all of the below venues for more opportunities.

The winners for 2015 were:

  • The Laundry for the matching competition with their Smoke Jerk Chicken Burger and Red Zeppelin beer (pink lemonade and red pilsner influences). The judges said both were excellent on their own, but enhanced each other together.
  • Egmont Street Eatery for the burger alone with their Cheese, Beets and Meat. The judges said they liked that it was a traditional burger, but done with a Kiwi smoky twist.

In no particular order, the finalists were….

Arborist Rooftop Bar and Eatery with their Ba Ba Baaa Ba Ba Bar Lamb burger. They started from the Garagista big hoppy beer and chose big meaty flavours to go with it, including pickled cucumber to cut through some of the richness. And those parmesan fries were damned fine.

BW Arborist

Charley Noble (last year’s champion burger) with their Ebisu fish burger. This one was about showcasing Japanese flavours alongside the smoky fish, inside a squid ink bun.

BW Charley Noble

Egmont Street Eatery with their Cheese, Beets and Meat beef burger. They’ve house blended three cheeses, smoked their own beetroot relish and pickled their own onions.


Grill Meats Beer with their Chook N Swine, Fire N Spice chicken and bacon burger with chilli fries. The secret ingredient being Mamia’s hot Ethiopian relish from a local Kilbirnie lass. Matched with GP’s White Mischief salted white peach soured beer (I can vouch for the beer, delicious – any leftover stock may be available at the brewery shop).


The Laundry with their Smoke Jerk Chicken burger and Red Zeppelin beer. Layered chicken fillets and smoked chicken remoulade with crunchy slaw out of a caravan kitchen. I believe there’s a little tamarillo flavour lurking around in there too.

BW Laundry

Five Boroughs’ Some Sort of (venison) Burger. The name inspired by a review in the past where one friend talked about how much her friend had liked ‘some sort of burger’ at 5B. Includes foraged wild blackberries against wild venison with truffled cheese and again, squid ink buns.

BW 5 Boroughs

Cafe Medici’s (last year’s burger beer match winner) Smokey and the Lambit burger. Using all local Wairarapa ingredients including pinot jelly and Claireville Bakery buns, the lamb burger was paired with crisp polenta fries which looked pretty darned fine.

BW Medici

Ti Kouka’s Apocalypse Now Longbush pork burger. Again big flavours designed to complement GP’s Death from Above beer, including ginger ale bacon, a dab of bbq bourbon glaze, Asian lime and coriander, Japanese chilli oil, pickles and a side of crackling.


WOAP 2015 highlights…

So far anyway.

  • The Concrete Bar Levin the Dream cocktail of bacon infused vodka, banana liquer, and maple syrup with a fabulous quail egg, bacon, chorizo and potato rosti.

Concrete cocktail

  • The Burger Liquor Tipsy Lamb burger – small but perfectly formed, with good quality lamb and tangy flavours. No sides, but only $14.Burger Liq tipsy lamb
  • The Ramen Shop Pig out on Ramen burger – gently flavoured and fabulously crispy. Again no sides, but only $10.Ram shop burger
  • The Lido caramelised carrot and walnut pudding with thick Zany Zeus yoghurt on their DINE menu – flavourful and sweetly moorish (their burger wasn’t bad either actually, see below).

Lido carrot cake

  • Beervana, for an excellent way to try many things, and with fantastic nibbly food (thanks Martin!), and Garage Project’s White Mischief beer brewed for Burger Wellington (with a lightly peach-infused flavour and much mischief on the can) – pictured below with the Lido’s smoked warehou sambal burger. Lido white mischief
  • The Little Piggy goes to Night Market event at Cafe Polo. A great evening of fun, even if our favourite dish didn’t win the pig and pickle competition (the winning slow roast pork hock with BBQ kimchi, coriander and crackling on char grilled flat bread below), and we didn’t win the masterclass for 6pax draw.

Polo white kimchi flatbread

  • The Foxglove DINE menu dessert choux burger with pears, hazelnuts and ginger nut ice cream (yep my sweet tooth is showing)Foxglove choux dessert burger
  • The Portlander Hunter Games venison burger and their DINE menu Apple Sourz and RJ’s liquorice cheesecake.Portlander WOAP burgerPortlander WOAP licorice

Adelaide Trading Co Licensed Deli

Adelaide RoadJust a couple of doors down from the Goose Shack, and opposite the Gramercy Bakery, we now have the Adelaide Trading Co Licensed Delicatessen at Beramphore.

So it’d be rude not to visit on the way back from the airport right? (although being the morning after Beervana, we didn’t test out the licensed bit…..).

John and Z (Snook) opened ATC in June of this year and are settling into their groove. They make a bunch of their own products which they use in their dishes and you can take home if you fancy (grapefruit marmalade, house-smoked kippers, pickled vegetables, sourdough loaves), and use others’ where they have yet to tread or there’s a great product available (sauerkraut, Blackball salami, light rye loaves).

Adelaide ruebenWhile waiting for our spicy baked beans on crushed spuds and a Reuben sandwich, John whipped up a fresh carrot-based juice for me, which was smooth and creamy with a light orange back note lending a little sweetness. Nice.

The Rueben here is done on lightly toasted light rye with a good ratio of sauerkraut, corned beef and swiss cheese. Being made with a lighter touch overall than some traditional Rueben’s you didn’t need a crowbar to wrench your jaw open super wide and it sat well in the stomach after. I also liked the quality of the grainy mustard on the side for my own mix and match pleasure.

Adelaide beansThe baked beans were lightly spiced and went well with the baked potatoes beneath, although could have done with a smidge more seasoning; a very rustic and pretty dish.

There were also daily specials on the blackboard, and the cabinet had many appealing offerings including delicious-looking mince and cheese pies (next time), fritata’s, vegan slices, hand-made sandwiches, and a whole raft of treats for after (including these fab ninja cookies made locally at Hataitai by the Royal Icing Academy, apparently also the business for celebration cakes).

Adelaide ninjasAnd we got to watch the karate class in action through the glass at the rear while chowing down.

A convivial atmosphere, pleasant food and entertainment to boot. What more could you want in your local neighbourhood deli?

Daytimes Monday to Sunday.

469 Adelaide Road.

Adelaide bread Adelaide decor

Adelaide pies

Adelaide pickles

The Little Teapot, Kilbirnie

thumb_IMG_1978_1024What a cute little tea room with dainty, well-priced high tea ($25).

The Little Teapot is the sister of the Carlton Cafe just down the block, where the food is all created. Although high teas are The Little Teapot’s main gig, you can pop in for tea, coffee and cake. But pick your moment as they’re often solidly booked for high teas (however, there’s nothing stopping you doing a dine’n’dash with takeaway goodies!).

thumb_IMG_1982_1024The Tea Total selection was long and interesting, with selections like cranberry and carrot fruit tea, peach and rose sweet Sunday, feng shui green tea and more, but I couldn’t go past my favourite chamomile flowers. And we were presented with a teapot each, in its own individually knitted cosy. Nice.

The food included baby quiche and scones, tiny cupcakes, baby friands, cucumber and mixed sandwiches, mushroom pasties, chocolate mousse and more. All perfectly bite sized (so this won’t have to double as lunch). And the decor was pink and cute, as teashops are supposed to be.

thumb_IMG_1983_1024I left feeling comfortable, not too sugared out, and thinking I’d definitely return.

If you’re not a tea drinker you can swap your tea out for hot chocolate or coffee, and those who did seemed to enjoy them.

Nice one Kilbirnie.

29 Coutts Street, Kilbirnie.


Portlander (and their 2015 VWOAP pleasures…)

Things come in threes right? I’ve unexpectedly ended up at Portlander three times this week. Go figure.

Portlander lunchAnd looking back, I’m feeling pleasure about all three visits.

Firstly was lunch with a friend (why would you pay $10 for a panini at a crowded cafe when you could pay $15-$18 for a delicious salad at a serviced restaurant with a nice ambience?), secondly was an invite to a sneak preview of their VWOAP 2015 DINE plates and burger (more below and the full range of pics at the bottom) and thirdly was to someone else’s drinks (thanks for the guidance on the Japanese whisky Antonio!).

Portlander scallopsAlthough primarily a steak restaurant, Portlander do offer up dishes for a wider audience – seafood chowder, seasonal salads, soups, a range of burgers, and even some vego options (on the autumn menu there was both a smoked tuna and a vego kedgeree).

You will of course still find signature items like the Wakanui eye fillet (90 day grain finished Angus and Hereford Canterbury cattle), T-bones, venison, the daily seafood catch etc, with the most popular combination still remaining oysters, steak, and something chocolate to finish (and if you must have fried eggs on the side of your steak they at least will be truffle fried).

Portlander wakanuiPortlander like to use local product wherever possible (Otaki free-range pork, Palliser lamb, Zany Zeus smoked brinza) and are also conscious of recycling and managing food waste effectively. As an example they partner with Kaibosh to re-use the rest of the potatoes left over from the hand-cut chunky fries. Cool.

Because they understand the need for local support, Portlander host a range of regular events like ‘chic chat’ lunches for women with inspiring women speakers, sport-associated events (Melbourne Cup long lunch in November), and also have a free-membership Prime Club with a range of one-offs like masterclasses, whisk(e)y tastings, 2:1 lunches prior to Xmas, etc. They’ve also just announced a Backyard Cricket Long Xmas Lunch (yes you truly are going to play cricket) in conjunction with the Westpac stadium. Busy people.

Alongside all that, Portlander are a regular VWOAP contender. After getting to taste them all (I know, but someone’s gotta do it…) the dishes I’m still thinking about are the Hunter Games burger (wild venison patty, smoked bacon, cheese and cherry relish), the Yellow Brick Road Ora King Salmon main (cold smoked salmon on crushed
potato, house preserved lemon and extra virgin olive oil), and the RJ’s liquorice baked cheesecake dessert (individual baked cheesecake with apple sourz sorbet).

Portlander WOAP burgerAnd if you have the wild venison main during VWOAP, you’ll be given co-ordinates to an online map showing where your particular deer was caught by a shy local hunter (via QR code I believe). Can’t get much stronger provenance than that.

Portlander also have a significant drinks menu, featuring a large range of whisk(e)y’s, bourbons and cocktails (even a separate whisky cocktail section), and I like that wines can be purchased by the half glass.

Portlander is definitely not your usual hotel restaurant.

In Rydges on the corner of Whitmore and Featherston Streets.

Portlander Scallops[1]

Portlander WOAP lamb

Portlander WOAP venison

Portlander WOAP salmon

Portlander WOAP licorice

Portlander WOAP pnut sw

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