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

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.










The Preservatorium cafe and cannery…

Phew.  What a busy old time.  Finally a weekday morning to stroll past and check out the Preservatorium on Webb Street.

Preservatorium preservesA cute cafe with tables and chairs reminiscent of school or a community hall; lots of hand-made preserves, chutneys and jams (lovely clutters of empty jars around the place); People’s coffee (alas their small grinder was AWOL so I couldn’t imbibe a decaf on said day) and good value simple foods (cabinet and menu).

My lemon muffin was suitably light and airy and had real pieces of candied lemon on top, and complimented the Kawakawa fire tea.

Preservatorium grindsI toyed with the home-made grandfathers baked beans, but the stomach wasn’t quite up for the challenge on this occasion, and because I wasn’t going to be home any time soon I didn’t procure the take-away jar, but keen to return and give those a whirl.

The staff are welcoming, the atmosphere relaxing and unhurried (beware only open 7-3 weekdays), and I liked seeing the coffee grinds free to a good garden (not sure if my two patio pots qualify?).

Keep an eye on their Facebook page for daily specials (damn those $5 Monday beef burgers looked mighty fine….) and consider the Preservatorium for functions (a funky space for a knees up).

30 Webb Street.

Preservatorium tables1



Louis Sergeant sweet couture…

Whether you have a sweet or savoury tooth, Louis Sergeant will be sure to satisfy.

Louis S cakesFound at 146 Featherston Street (in the old Capri location), Louis Sergeant is effectively a french tea house doing pastries, lunchtime baguettes and salads, georgous sweet things, high teas, cheeseboards with fresh oven-baked bread, and lastly (but not leastly) French bubbles and wines.

Louis Sergeant himself is the former Head Patisserie chef from Hippopotamus at the Museum Hotel, so you will recognise the precision and delicacy of the items here, as well as the quality in the setup (a sleek black and white interior, soothing and slightly sultry french Louis S baguettemusic playing, beautiful cups and teapots, water from large perfume-shaped bottles, an old decorative cash register, a beautiful french portrait above the couches, etc etc).

My first two experiences have been outstanding in food terms, and pleasant in experience and service terms (a little settling in to go).  The first was a lunch-time baguette sandwich of haloumi, fig, rocket and lemon infused olive oil (superb balance of textures and flavours), and on a Saturday morning an almond croissant just warm out of the oven (died and heaven sprung to mind).

Louis S decorI am eyeing up the platter of french cheeses with warm bread fresh from the oven and french bubbles one Friday evening soon (very soon!), and can imagine this will become a regular stop when in this part of town.

LS are currently still working out what hours are best so keep an eye on their Facebook page, but generally Tuesday to Thursday 8am to 5.30pm (late Thursdays possibly coming), Friday 8am to 8pm (for that after work wine and cheese), and Saturday 10am to 5pm.




Viva Veni Vedi Vici!

No I am not following David Burton around (is he following me?).

Veni Vidi Vici signHaving been to Veni Vedi Vici on Cuba Street twice now (in the former Istanbul restaurant space), I can say that they do what they do very well.  Especially the service (jokingly offering over the phone to find me more friends when I rang to reduce the booking numbers!).

Mostly Italian offerings (with a smattering of Spanish), the atmosphere is warm and inviting, the food is good, and the wines interesting (virtually all European, and they are happy to give advice and tasters to help understand what the offerings are).  Nice.

Veni Vidi Vici foodSo the menu is made up of mostly pasta and pizzas with a couple of bigger mains, and the pastas nearly all in small or large to suit.  The pasta is all handmade and the pizzas thin crust.

I particularly liked that my Bolognese was a mix of beef and pork mince (a little sweeter and less intense), without a sauce drowning everything, and the pasta was perfectly al dente yet tender.

The other dishes around the table all got the thumbs up – the calamari, the proscuitto-wrapped melon, the pizza (again not wet or soggy), the salmon main, and the seafood linguine (lots of large seafood).  All presented nicely on stylish black plates.

Veni Vidi Vici wallOn Friday evening’s there’s live music which adds a nice ambience, and when the place is full, there’s a fair old buzz going on naturally (beware it can be a bit noisy though if you’re after a quiet intimate dinner).

The owner has been around Wellington for some time building in size as he goes along (originally Cubita cafe on Taranaki – good coffee, then partnering in Napoli pizza on Courtenay – good pizza), so we wish him well at Veni Vedi Vici .

I think it’s fair to say we came, we saw and we conquered and we will be back (and check out the fab leadlight-styled lights over the bar too when you visit).

156 Cuba Street.




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