foodiegemsofwellie

For interesting eating and drinking experiences around Wellington, NZ (and the greater region)

City Dining

The City Dining restaurant at the West Plaza hotel surprised me.

I wanted to try their Wellington on a Plate menu since it had some interesting vegetarian offerings, and is somewhere I haven’t eaten before.  So the invitation was issued and five of us went to check it out.

City Dining Mush TortI expected nil ambience and yet the lighting and fabrics lent a pleasant air to the space (sorry forgot to photograph the decor after all that!).  And we enjoyed a drink first in the plush, slightly-darkened, cosy lounge bar on the other side of the foyer first. Huh.

The restaurant service was very good and it was warm and peaceful, and so the scene was set for a very nice time catching up with friends.

The Parkvale mushroom tortellini with Prana micro herbs and parmesan was very good, and the prune and walnut bread on the Kapiti aged cheddar and quince cheeseboard outstanding.  And the perfect size.  Enough bread/crackers for the cheese, not too much cheese, and crisp complementing fruits.  I’d even go as far as to say this is the best cheeseboard I’ve had in years (primarily because of the bread).

WOAP City DiningThe vego WOAP West Vege burger was pronounced far more than met the eye and very good also (even by a fairly carnivorous lad among us), and the creme brûlée desserts also had just the right textures and flavours.

The only wrong note was the venison on the Island Bay Butchery osso bucco and saffron risotto dish being tough (overcooked or cooked too quickly we suspect).  When pointed out they immediately offered to bring replacement meals which was the right response.  The risotto got the tick as well.

City Dining prune cheeseSo although it probably still wouldn’t be any of the first places I’d think of when heading out for dinner, it’d be the perfect place for a work lunch or business dinner, or even just dinner somewhere peaceful to enjoy good conversation over good food.

110 Wakefield Street, Wellington

 

 

A WOAP stomach explosion…

In the interests of saving time re-writing what I’ve already said in my Wellingtonista post, here it is. Suffice it to say I’ve managed to pace myself better during this week so far (no events yet!) and the stomach is recovering.

I can add that:

Coming over the next week is the Pan de Meurto WOAP menu or burger, Logan Brown’s Southern Dixie brunch and music, the Portlander WOAP menu or burger, the Wakefields WOAP menu or burger, and Arthur’s WOAP menu or burger.

Yum yum……

Laneway donut tree

Taylors on Jackson

A wet night inspired a drive, and Taylors had been in my sights for a while from recent commentary about their fare and the recently-awarded hat in the 2014 Cuisine Good Food Awards.

Taylors are in the old Gusto site on Jackson Street in Petone, and is the baby of Glen Taylor, who has previously worked at Hummingbird among others.

Taylors tatareThe food is heading into the fine dining territory, the dish components interesting (pig trotter, carrot and buttermilk remoulade with apple, sea grapes and watercress or beef tatare with fried chicken oyster, soy, egg yolk jam, wasabi and seaweed or ricotta, goats cheese and stinging nettle tortellini with kale, parmesan and pinenut gremolata for example) and the environment warm, cosy and with an element of class.

One might be able to manage all three courses, but I decided an entree with a side and dessert appealed most.  The beef tatare was tasty, well balanced and with pleasing texture contrasts (although the fried chicken oyster seemed a little extraneous) and the beef fillet main across the table with a complement of beef cheek was also considered very good (perfectly medium rare and tender).

Taylors dessertThe dessert I couldn’t bypass was ‘The new “BFG” parsnip and apple crumble cheesecake’, which was so delicious I ate the whole lot even though it was rich and more than my stomach really needed.  Presented in a jar opened at the table, it again had a range of textures which were pleasing and definitely made me think apple crumble. No clue how Roald Dahl’s BFG Big Friendly Giant relates to this dessert though!

Mains are in the mid-$30’s and you’ll probably need a side at another $8, with desserts and entrees in the $15-$17 range, so go prepared to pay a little (and don’t go too early if you’d like the experience to stretch out time-wise to make the investment worthwhile), but definitely go sometime.

282 Jackson Street, Petone

Taylors decor

 

 

A Big Bad Wolf dinner…

Further to my long-ago first post on BBW, I’ve finally managed to get back for dinner recently.

There are definitely some interesting options (steak with paua sausages, confit duck, snails for dessert), but don’t expect frilly or fancy plating.  BBW is about quality and generosity of meat in a simple butchery setting.

BBW dinsThey’re doing a $50 two-course or $60 three-course dinner deal (which might be good value for the three course if you can eat that much) as well as offering individual menu items, and you definitely need to book (seating for around 20 pax only).

The sides were small for the cost (a couple of spoonfuls each of potatoes and brussell sprouts for $12 on top of $30 and $35 mains), so I’m not sold on the price point for the evening dining, however, the place was full on a Wednesday night and the duck was delicious, so maybe thats just me.

BBW decorWe did spot delish looking meaty platters to start at other tables, and so I think BBW is a good place to come with friends for a leisurely evening of catching up.

For me they still fit best as a daytime option where there’s some really good value tasty eating to be had (hot brisket or spit roasted pork sandwiches, terrines or soup for around $9, a pork burger, turkey salad or BBQ pork rib meal for around $18 or platters for $20-$25), as well as a fantastic range of charcuterie goodies for slipping into the bag for later.

The coffee on the wall was listed as black or white (none of that fancy espresso stuff here!) and the tea as english breakfast, green or exotic.  Easy.

262 Wakefield Street.

 

 

 

The Meeting Tree

So, we decided to see if The Meeting Tree on Tory Street (a newish Ethiopian) offered up more than the bread and water my colleagues reckoned it would (their judgement based entirely on lean Ethiopian runners).

Meeting House platterWell kinda.

They’d only just received their liquor licence the night before and weren’t serving any yet, so the only liquid brought to us was water, with no juice or alternate offered.

And injera bread (pancake really) is quite a feature of Ethiopian cooking, so not far off actually!

Effectively the dishes here are either a range of vegan (lentils, split peas or vegetables) or meats (chicken, beef and lamb) marinated in their traditional spices and added to a curries, stews or dry cooked.  And then served with rice or the injera bread.

Injera bread is great fun as you get to eat with you hands – tearing off a piece, picking up your meat with it or dipping it directly into the sauces – and I do like getting right in among it (not so much for him-of-the-girly-cocktails).  And being a thin light spongy slightly sour scooper with a lot of holes, it works a treat.

Meeting House decorThere are some fabulous names to the dishes (doro wot, yebeg sega wot, zilzil tibs), some interesting corner chairs at every table, fairly basic ambience and service, and meat that wasn’t all that tender or magical other than the differing spice flavours (try the platter to get the most different tastes), but its still a unique and different experience.

I understand the coffee experience is pretty good, but being an evening we didn’t partake.

So you certainly won’t get fat at The Meeting Tree, but it is nice to have these kinds of experiences available in our fair city.

100 Tory Street

 

 

Newtown’s Monterey

Another ‘finally’ place.

Monterey is the big brother to Six Barrel Soda (born due to a lack of suitable soda syrups for the Monterey mothership).

And yes, sodas do feature here too.

Monterey tableMonterey is essentially a funky burger and soda joint with extras (craft beers, wines, American BBQ and ‘slaw boards, liquored iced sodas, ice cream soda floats, scrambled tofu and black rum bananas on the brunch menu, etc).

They bake all their own breads, make their own sauces, smoke their own meats (and non-meats), play real vinyl music (diner and country style a’la’Johnny Cash) and clip plain paper on the tables so you can draw and doodle to your heart’s content while dining.

Monterey burgerThe BBQ platters or burgers are all $14, the salads all $15 and sides all $3 (how easy is that?), and the meals light and tasty.  The BBQ platter meat (yes I confess, mock duck on this occasion) was definitely smokey and the accompanying charred bread nicely charred.  The burgers were considered the best vegetarian burger ever (haloumi) and tasty beef but a bit thin on the cheese (the cheeseburger!!).

There’s interesting (and probably typical American diner) sides like corn salad, onion rings, ‘slaw and fries, and the staff are relaxed and friendly.

Monterey decorBe prepared to be crammed in (either with new friends at communal tables or just huddled around a small table), and to have a loud and noisy experience, but that’s absolutely part of the charm and fun of Monterey.

4 Rintoul Street, Newtown.

3pm til late Monday to Thursday, 10 or 11am til late Friday to Sunday.

 

 

 

Little Lottie…

A’la The Whitehouse, Capitol, Logan Brown, Shed 5, etc, Floraditas have also opened a little sister – Loretta, just a few doors up on Cuba.

Loretta menuWith a focus on plants and grains, its a nice change to all the meaty establishments popping up of late.  Like Flo’s there’s also quite a focus on fresh and seasonal, with a daily changing menu (the menu does have the date and day’s weather and then headings like soup, a pie, pate, a pasta, wood fired pizzas, wet risotto etc under which different daily options appear) which is designed to be ‘non-committal dining’ – pretty much the same all day and evening with varying sizes so you can choose whatever suits you at whatever time.

And there truly are some really interesting dishes like:

  • pumpkin, jerusalem artichoke and watercress farro salad
  • golden beetroot, apple, raisin and pea tendril buckwheat salad
  • red rice, kidney bean, quinoa, radicchio, rhubarb and feta salad
  • broccoli, kale and cashew pesto risotto
  • artichoke, green olive and almond pate
  • yellow beets, carrot, coriander and almond wholewheat bites
  • I could go on and on…..

Loretta bfastsThere are some meaty offerings for the carnivores (a half or whole chook, fish, and a beef dish), but the focus is definitely on plants and grains.

For breakfast I have partaken of orange, lemon and brandied sultana warm rice (so good I can still picture and taste it several weeks later….), and the house-made crumpets with quince curd.  Others have had green eggs (pesto and lots of herbs, not something rotten!), waffles with coconut yoghurt (real threads of coconut) and the broken sausage and thyme warm rice and all have been given the thumbs up (the crumpets were pretty small though).

The prices are good ($8 for open wholewheat sandwich bites – like brushettas, the breakfasts between $10 and $16, and the dinners between $18 and $25 – including the half chook), there’s lots of space, and the service is shaping up pretty well (FOH Manager Megan having shifted up the road from Flo’s but all other wait staff are new).

Loretta cakesLoretta make some of their own sodas (rhubarb and rosewater, feijoa and lime, lemon verbena when last there), do a cold drip coffee, and have a central table with cakes and muffins if that’s all you’re after.  Nice.

The decor is pretty low key and simple and this isn’t a place you’d come for a big evening out, but is most definitely a place to drop by any time.

From 10am (Saturday and Sunday) or 11am (Wednesday to Friday) til 10pm.  Closed Sunday night and all day Monday and Tuesday.

181 Cuba Street.

 

 

La Boca Loca

Finally.  Its only taken about three years to get to La Boca Loca in Miramar.  And yep, it was worth getting the car out of the garage.

La Boca decorThe atmosphere is fun and buzzy (read go in a group), the decor bright and interesting (love the fluoro blue), and the food goooood (nary a nacho in sight).

We started with the trio of little bites to acknowledge the weekend of gluttony already under way (a tastebud tingling mix of spicy pumpkin seeds, fried nixtamal corn with salt and chilli spiced peanuts), and then moved right along to the enchilada/taco/burrito section of the menu.

La Boca mainsThe sizes (moderate) and prices (around $18) suited us, not being hollow-legged teenagers, and the quality and flavours impressed.  Particularly the hand-made organic corn tortillas of the pescado (at front) – earthy in colour, texture and taste – and the flavours of the chicken enchilada (the influence of the Mexican coriander cream I suspect).  Pleasingly nothing was drowned in salsa, sauce or cheese (the mayo was maybe edging slightly towards heavy handedness).

It was extremely helpful having a full page of descriptors for the Mexican terms and chilli strength, and pleasing to see recognition of their main suppliers at the end too, including the very local Miramar Fruit Supply.

La Boca goodiesOne could happily call in here for a casual margarita and nibble at the bar, or a longer dining experience down the back (and there’s no way it’ll be three years this time!).

There’s also quite a range of goodies one can purchase to take home if feeling suitably inspired (tacos, hot sauces, dried chillies, and even banana vinegar and stoneground chocolate).  Nice one La Boca Loca.

19 Park Road, Miramar.

La Boca map

 

 

A foxy burger

Foxglove have updated their menu, and given they are in the same stable as Matterhorn, there are definite similarities (more small and tasting plates than mains, and the ubiquitous large meat platter – the $90 slow roasted lamb shoulder Moroccan style for 6-10 people).

What leapt out at me though were a section of interesting sounding burgers for $19-$20 and a range of charcuterie plates between $12 and $16 (traditional wagyu steak tartare with toasted sourdough; chicken parfait, calvados, braeburn apple and sourdough …).

Foxglove burgerSo a burger it was on this occasion (but I’m coming back soon to try the charcuterie).

I chose the Emerson’s lemon sole fish burger with watercress, sauce gribiche and fries, and Mr Indoors chose the Wagyu short rib burger with swiss cheese, brown sauce, pickles and fries.

Both were on a lovely soft brioche buns, were tasty and well presented on boards with individually boxed curly fries.  I noticed other meals around us being delivered on a variety of boards and platters with judicious use of mini pots and pans.  Nicely done.

The beef burger was pronounced better value than the Grill Meats Beer one of the previous week (same price but with the side included) but not quite reaching the benchmark of the Charley Noble one.

For me, I’m still keen to try all the other burgers on offer (and that’s a fairly unusual state for me to want to eat lots of burgers!), so in the interests of anticipation:

  • apple and soy marinaded pork belly burger with minted coleslaw and fries
  • thyme roasted chicken burger with parmesan, bacon, cos and fries
  • spicy battered haloumi burger, lemon pickle, eggplant binjal, cucumber yoghurt and fries.

Since they have a $25 burger and beer deal every day, and I really enjoy their restaurant seating looking out over the water (although I wonder why they don’t extend the ‘restaurant’ section given its attraction), I can’t imagine it’ll be too long before my feet beat this path again.

Definitely worth a stop and more value for money now with a range of smaller plates as well as the big mains.

33 Queens Wharf (near the East by West ferry dock).

 

 

 

 

 

Grill Meats Beer

It looks like 2pm of an afternoon is the quietest time to actually get a space at Grill Meats Beer to sample the offerings (open at noon 7 days).

GMB teeThis is the ‘accessible’ sister to Logan Brown (a’la’Whitehouse and Charley Noble), although more bar-focused than CN.

The food is tasty and interesting and accompanied by good service (with entertaining tee’s worn by the staff), and a reasonably efficient turnaround time once seated.  The menu is mostly meaty (as you’d expect), with a selection of burgers, a delicious sounding ‘pulled pork banh mi’ (slow spicy roasted pork with pickled carrot, cucumber, coriander etc), and a number of small and tasting plates (an interesting side of kim chi spicy pickled cabbage spotted).

GMB fish popcornThe fish popcorn with orange aioli, and barley, feta and capsicum salad both hit the mark on this side of the table, while the chicken burger on a brioche bun was noted as tasty with real chicken thigh and an interesting deep fried onion rosti cake but maybe a smidge overpriced at $20 without any kind of side (a theme across the board, especially for drinks).

The decor is simple, the music lively, and an overall noisy buzzy atmosphere prevails.  The coffee is ‘soft brew’ only (ergo filter), and there are only a couple of desserts and non-meaty mains to satisfy the carbophiles, so be prepared for a protein fix.

GMB dishesDefinitely worth a visit in Upper Cuba Street, but pick your time.  No bookings for tables at any time, limited capacity to handle groups (be early and see if you can get at the single bigger table that could hold 8-10) and possibly long waits (1.5 hours+ last Wednesday evening) so be warned.  It may however settle a little after the initial excitement passes.

GMB logo227 Cuba Street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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