foodiegemsofwellie

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

Poneke, week one…

The new marriage between Mojo and Martin Bosley at the bottom of the new Clyde Quay apartments (the old overseas terminal down by Chaffers) is up and running.

Poneke decorPoneke has the usual Mojo look and feel (and cabinet food), but with the addition of a Martin Bosley kitchen to produce swizzier menu dishes.

These cover small ($12 – $17) and large plates ($22-$24 excluding the whole flounder at $27), a few pizzas ($16-$18), oysters ($4.50 each) and a couple of desserts ($memory blank).

There are a number of items which allude to kiwiana – 12hr beef cheek as the mince on toast, fish finger sandwich and buttermilk fried onion rings, and asparagus, poached egg, salmon caviar with green herb hollandaise (being as close as you’ll get to an eggs benny) – and every dish has interesting combinations and ingredients.

Poneke small plateThere’s quite a range of seafood on the menu as you’d expect from Martin and the location (including a delish sounding smoked kahawai, olive, caper and potato pizza), but there’s also enough to satisfy the vegos or carnivores among us (roasted grapes and feta on grilled sourdough or slow-cooked lamb shoulder, garlic, oregano, lemon and skordalia which looked pretty saliva-inducing as it went to the next table to share).

The quality of the food and presentation is superb, as is the efficiency and friendliness of the staff, however I’m not yet convinced on the price points (especially for the small plates).  The anchovies and tomatoes on toast (above) for $17 was a fair stretch, and the fish finger sandwich was in fact just a burger (albeit a tasty one) with one crumbed Poneke ff sammieoblong finger at $22.  I expected at least sandwich style slices of interesting bread given it was marketed as a sandwich, with possibly even two or three smaller fish fingers for quirkiness and references to the kind of fish fingers we’d all remember (although that might be just the child in me!).

I do appreciate though, that they’re in an expensive location and prompt service and food delivery means bodies, on top of quality ingredients.

The winner on the day for me might just about have been the simple zucchini, mint, rocket and feta pizza (loved the thin rustic base), with fantastic flavours, textures, colour and piquancy (even the non-zucchini-loving teenager was impressed).

Poneke pizzaPoneke are doing 7 days from 7amish to mid evening, with the same menu running throughout, and outdoor tables for when the Wellington weather gods permit.  They are likely to change to later opening hours on the weekend with a slightly more tailored brunch menu in the near future.

Definitely worth a visit, especially if you appreciate quality food components and presentation, or fancy tender melt-in-the-mouth fish and chips beside the boats of a lovely sunny summer evening.

Clyde Quay Wharf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Canteen update

I know I’ve talked about Canteen a year ago when they opened, but a few things have changed so an update is in order.

After trying evenings and a few different variations on menus, Canteen have settled into a nice rhythm.  They have a lovely ambience in the style of a cake shop and tea room from days gone by (check out the casserole on top of the artificial flamed ‘oven’ in the picture at the end!), and friendly staff.

cantten french toastOpen from 7.30am Monday to Friday, breakfasts run until noon, and then there’s a switch up to lunch. The lunches include a tasty range of flatbreads, salads and hot meat sandwiches and burgers, many of which showcase their house-made Mabel & Mack hot spicy sauces (and are tender and delicious).

And although the breakfast foods are semi-traditional, they are well executed and usually have some different and interesting twists (turkish eggs with strained yoghurt, cumin butter and a grilled flatbread, or brioche french toast with toffee bananas – great presentation as canteen sconesyou’ll see above – or biscuits and gravy of open cheese scones with pork sausage and a creamy gravy – also delicious and well presented).

Open from 10 – 2.30pm Saturdays and Sundays with a brunch menu blended from the breakfast and lunch.

The coffee is Immigrants Son and well made, and the baking (with Roy being a baker) superb if you fancy a little cake to finish off with.

Here to stay.

8 Bond Street.

canteen decor

 

 

 

Mexico

I know its a chain.  And I haven’t been to any of the others to see how ‘chain’ it feels. But we all really liked it.

Mexico decorSlightly grungy funky decor, delicious good value food, and a large range of quality tequilas. Hello Mexico.

The crisp patatas de maize with blue cheese and smoky almond snack for $8 were substantial and tasty, as were the $6 soft shell tacos (maybe the beef skirt meat could have been a smidge tenderer, but couldn’t fault the flavours and presentation).  And the $14 – $16 quesadillas, flautas (with pumpkin pictured below), Mexican fried chicken (yes there was agreement with the menu ‘not to be missed’ comment), ceviche with pork crackling and fresh salad etc all well exceeded expectations too.

Mexico flautaAlthough we were told that none of the dishes were that spicy (chilli-wise) and there were hot sauces on the table for extra grunt, we found a few to be quite tingly.  The hot sauces are available to buy instore or online if one takes your fancy.

Most of the group ordered one snack item or soft shell taco and one slightly bigger dish and were chokka (technical term) by the end of that.  So for $20 – $24 here you really can have a good time, be satisfied with quantity and quality and try different things. Pretty impressive really.

You can’t book in advance, so like most places these days you’ll end up parked in the bar for a bit enjoying tequilas, margaritas, and Mexican beers. Wine drinkers should note there are only three wines (red, white and sparkling), complemented by a few delicious sounding sangrias (by the glass or carafe).

Mexico tacoAnd the food will come in whatever sequence being of the sharing persuasion (however most of ours came within 10-15 minutes of each other so no dramas).

I really liked the sound of a couple of desserts, so will have to return soon and maybe do the menu in reverse!

If you are a small group or couple, expect to be seated at large communal tables near other diners.

Noon til late, 7 days.

41 Dixon Street.

 

Basque pinxtos

The people behind Beach Babylon and Little Beer Quarter have branched into northern Spain and tapas and pinxtos (pronounced pinchos).

In the old Zico premises next to The Tasting Room on Courtenay you will now find Basque.

And yes, they have pinxtos on the bar from 5pm like they do in Spain ($2.50 each), so you  can cruise in, grab a drink, select a pinxto or two from the bar and enjoy.

Basque pinxtosWhen asked how they monitor who has what, they laughed and said they just keep an eye on the custsies and its all good (apparently the same in Spain with no formal system for recording).

The pinxtos included many things on bread (frittata, chorizo and olive, baby octopus) as well as ham and cheese croquettes, arancini (the Spanish equivalent anyway) and many other very easy finger foods which changed as the evening went along.

The drinks included Spanish cava (bubbles, not Island-style!), wines, sangria and craft beers as well as a good complement of NZ offerings.

The tapas menu operates from 3pm with the expected items like patatas bravas, empanadillas, albondigas (Spanish meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce), grilled green beans with flaky sea salt etc, pretty much all priced between $8 and $13. They looked to be fairly decent helpings when we saw some pass by so I suspect you’d do very well here without breaking the bank (unlike some places where a small mortgage is required).

Basque MimatakiAdditional to the pinxtos and tapas are some traditional mains from 5.30pm, also at reasonable prices between $18 and $23 (excluding the steak). We partook of the Marmitake firm white Basque fish stew with spicy potato and tomato cooked in a traditional clay pot and the chorizo, beef and paprika burger (it was pretty close still to WOAP time) with tomato, caramelized onions, roasted capsicum, melted cheddar and patatas bravas.

Both were very good. The Marmitake was tender, well balanced and lightly tingly, and the burger included chunks of chorizo and offered with additional spicy sauces for those inclined beyond the standard tingle.

The environment was cosy and relevant, and the crowning glory on the night we were there – superb service from a delightful witty, charming and good looking bar lad who was Basque decor100% in the right role.

Nice one Basque.

8 Courtenay Place

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

 

 

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.

 

 

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