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…

Asiana Cooking School

Once hubby got past the ‘I’m paying for dinner and cooking it too????’, we had a grand time at the Asiana Cooking School.

Asiana roomThe school is in Tennyson Street, just a block down from Moore Wilson, and runs very slickly. Every person has a workstation with all the implements, ingredients, bowls, pans, recipes etc laid out ready to go, after you’ve first relaxed in the lounge side room enjoying the first tipple of the evening as everyone arrives.

Mindy tutors in a lovely open and informative manner, and happily shares tips throughout the evening – like the secret to stab-able (is that a word?) cooked courgette is to slice it on an angle. Simply but effective, and you won’t wind up with rings of courgette around your fork.

She demonstrates up the front first (so all recipes are relatively quick, you won’t spend all evening slaving over a hot pan), and then you’re let loose to replicate. Having the angled mirror above the demo bench works a treat so you can see exactly what’s being done no matter your position in the room.

On the night we went, the main was chicken in coconut sambal (the recipe helpfully adjusted to single portions), with banana roti to follow. Drooling yet? The sambal is a good example of a Malaysian dish which can be as hot or mild as you like (loads or a little sambal paste), is colourful, creamy and slightly sweet courtesy of the smidge of sugar added at the end.

We all managed the chicken pretty well, and made a fair go of the banana roti too (even him who was originally horrified at paying for a dinner he also had to cook, proudly proclaiming how well he’d beaten his roti into submission – something to do with the black bits on the underside maybe?).

Mindy had made the dough earlier to give it resting time, and we all discovered that the end product was actually easier to create than you’d imagine. We flattened, stretched and folded with flair, and learnt not to origami too many layers into the parcel so it didn’t end up doughy from too many layers to cook through. And to leave a little air at the edges on folding so it would puff up and offset any cooking shrinkage – aha!

Asiana platedTo finish the evening we sat at communal tables and enjoyed the fruits of our labour (plates with rice on magically appeared as we neared the end of our cooking), while Mindy’s staff cleaned up and re-set for the next day. What could be easier than that? And I even took leftovers home for lunch too.

Mindy has loads of classes each week and month, with an interesting array of recipes, so you’d be mad not to give this a go sometime. Especially in a group.

39 Tennyson Street.


The Brooklyn Deli

BD entryI’ve been to the Brooklyn Deli twice now, and twice enjoyed the food and vibe. And I really like that they offer up something different to everywhere else, being Austrian.

BD pancakeThe Kaiserschmarrn Emperors Pancake is sensational – shredded caramelised crepes souffle with plum compote. It was soft, sweet and crispy in all the right places, and totally pleasing in the belly (don’t be ashamed if you need to take some away in a doggy bag, apparently a common occurrence). Traditionally a dessert in Austria.

BD mac cheeseThe avocado, feta and mint mash on house rye sourdough with poached eggs got the double thumbs up for flavours and textures, as did the Kas’nockn Austrian-style mac’n’cheese.

The mac’n’cheese is a softer dough either cut by hand or put through a collander to make the macaroni-like pieces, and topped with tangy cheese, so again super pleasing in the belly. I liked it much more than the standard wheat pasta version which can at times be chewy and denser in general.

The Viennese Breakfast was also pleasant, but a smidge disjointed by comparison to other dishes (typical European though).

BD Vienesse plateBecause of the interesting and different offerings, there’s plenty more I still want to try – the Speckknodel (bacon and sausage dumplings which also use up stale bread – efficient!) on Sauerkraut, the Austrian Beef Goulash, Bratwurst, and more – and that’s before getting to the counter goodies, which are house-baked and delicious.

The berry and mascarpone brioche galette was excellent and I rued that I’d only bought one to share for dessert. And I’m so going back soon for the apple strudel and vanilla custard. They will also make you a full length strudel with a little notice if you fancy one for a dinner party. Nice.

BD galetteBrooklyn Deli make a large range of breads for your take-home pleasure as well as showcasing a good selection of meats, cheeses, pastas, sauces, vinaigrettes and condiments (many European), as well as many local gourmet products like Six Barrel Soda and Fix and Fogg peanut butter. Their breads are often available at the Sunday City Market too.

The decor is warm and cosy with a rustic log wall and friendly welcoming staff, and it was easy and relaxing for catching up with friends.

BD strudelI think a slide by before Xmas to pick up a gingerbread house and taste that strudel and custard is in order. Be rude not to wouldn’t it?

Tuesday to Sunday daytimes, Friday late night with a range of charcuterie boards, small plates and mains from the daytime menu.

199 Ohiro Road Bay (right next door to the Penthouse Cinema).

BD decor

BD meats cheese

BD deli items

BD counter food

BD xmas

BD bread

BD decor2

Ti Kouka

TK smoked fish potatoIts been years since I’ve talked about Ti Kouka in a dedicated way, so figure an update is due. Because they are that good.

They’ve matured into a consistently high standard daytime cafe, serving delicious well-executed food with interesting components.

Something as simple as muesli is still out of the ordinary – coconut muesli with puffed amaranth, hazelnuts, plum and Ti Kouka TK muesliyoghurt (the hazelnuts both in the muesli and separately as a crumb) – and the smoked sardines and potato with sour cream, preserved tomato, poached egg and bacon vin got two thumbs up. I’m pleased to report that there was enough fruit and yoghurt to go with the muesli and not a mountain of muesli beneath (a pet hate).

Ti Kouka porkShep (co-owner and Executive Chef) has long been a proponent of the Longbush black pork and you will find it used throughout the menu – pulled pork sandwich, as bacon, and on this recent platter in several guises. Others around town are now cottoning onto the quality of Longbush as well.

And both Jesse and Alice work the coffee machine like the pro’s they are, turning out faultless Red Rabbit coffees (a joint venture next to their Leeds Street bakery).

Red Rabbit coffee cookieTK do degustations from time to time (the most recent an art focused one where you got to take home the featured artist’s work as part of the dinner), and are conscious consumers supporting Kaibosh food rescue, as well as composting and recycling wherever possible.

If you’re just after coffee, I’d recommend you make room for one of their famed salted caramel cookies, a fresh baked muffin (which is kind of a work of art by itself) or a slice of their macadamia cheesecake if there’s any going (I’d nearly walk over hot coals for that).

TK decorThe cafe is always busy and buzzing, so pick your moment, or be prepared to hang out at the tables in the counter area until a spot opens up. And yes, they are licensed if you fancy a glass of wine with that delish cheesecake. And yes, the art changes regularly, so you have something different to contemplate each time you visit.

Monday to Saturday daytimes, from 7.30am weekdays and 9.30am Saturdays.

76 Willis Street (upstairs).

TK tables

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

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