foodiegemsofwellie

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

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.

 

 

 

Mt Cook cafe

I’ve been meaning to pop in here for a while and see how Mt Cook cafe is faring these days.  They’ve been around a long time with various owners and various fortunes.

Mt Cook mushroomsHowever, the environment has always been satisfying (a nice old light and airy villa with a courtyard for fine days), and the cabinet food has always called to me when I’ve been galloping past.

The service is efficient, and the food exceeded expectations.  Wairarapa mushrooms on toast with balsamic turned out to be lovely large chunky mushrooms on fresh crispy ciabatta, simply done but tasty and satisfying.  And I enjoyed the greenery scattered through for texture and visual effect too.  And the french toast was given the thumbs up as well, including presentation of the syrup on the plate and quality of bacon.

I noticed a number of others around us having the New Yorker hash cake from the cabinet (bacon cheese and potato hash), so maybe that’s a local secret.  I shall have to do more digging….

MT Cook cabinetThe coffee was Havana (made quite well, if a little full for a long black), and the cabinet food had me thinking I’d definitely come here for lunch if in the neighbourhood (nice to see paninis and wraps well filled and pleasingly laid out).

So although a bit of a stroll out of the way to get here, Mt Cook is a relaxing location with pleasant food to wile away a bit of the weekend catching up on the newspaper or with friends (and easy enough parking if driving).

76 Wallace Street (just over the hill behind Massey University).

Mt Cook map

 

Wakelin House, Greytown

Intimate and fine dining Greytown style.

Wakelin tomato waterWakelin House do fabulous pies (and other goodies) at the City Market in Wellington, and have a background as foragers doing fresh seasonal food, so I’ve been keen to try there for a while.

After a false start a few months ago, we managed to make it happen on this visit (following on from the Wairarapa Wines Festival at Gladstone, which of itself is a fabulous event with delicious food, far too many wines to try and entertaining music and dancing).

An Amuse-bouche of tomato water was a delightful start (seasoned very cleverly to end up tasting sweet
Wakelin scallopsand just a hint peppery), followed by seared scallops with chilled gaspacho, avocado sorbet, and a drizzle of Juno olive oil (Mr Indoors did manage to defend most of his plateful!), and then panfried fish of the day (Gurnard) with roast prawns, sautéed parmesan gnocchi and bouillabaisse, and Wakanui ribeye of beef with confit new season garlic, beetroot potato salad and buttered corn.

All dishes were prettily presented with edible flowers or colourful arrangements (notice the theme in the pictures? – good use of seasonal produce) and executed well – crispy Gurnard skin, tender beef, delicious roast garlic and satisfying gnocchi.

Wakelin fishThe cheeseboard was plentiful for $21 with a sample of 6 different cheeses, for once (!) plenty of crackers, and a delightful scattering of either tiny raisins or currants (the popular vote was currants).

Nicely done Wakelin.  We’ll definitely be back.

(And they’re on the Wellington entertainment card for those of you out there with one – how could you miss?).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waimea cafe…..and Max Christie

I am going to talk about Waimea Cafe and Restaurant, but firstly I have to talk about Max Christie.

Max is a 16 year old singer-songwriter-guitar player with quite some musical future ahead I suspect.  From a Wellington family who visit the Waikanae area reasonably regularly, Max can often be found serenading the guests at Waimea Cafe.  A mix of jazz, blues, ballads, a little of his own, a little rap, a little of everything really, and expertly melded and medleyed together.  In fact, I damn near forgot
Waimea entertainto notice what I was eating such was the passion and presence of this young man (and for those who know me, you’ll know that’s almost unheard of).

So, although Max doesn’t yet have a formal marketing presence via the web or Facebook and needs to be a little older for pub gigs, keep an eye out for opportunities to see him in action (and the technical part of our household commented that he has extremely good modulation, which is apparently a very good thing) – keep an eye on Waimea Cafe’s Facebook page for info on who’s performing and when.

And so to Waimea Cafe.

The best thing about Waimea is the location.  Up on the beach front at Waikanae. With regular live music in the sunshine.  Pretty hard to beat.

The next best thing about Waimea is the staff.  Friendly, welcoming, humorously bantering, and not missing a trick service-wise (replacing cutlery, noticing drinks were ready for refills, explaining menu items, ensuring sated and satisfied).

Waimea mush brushettaThe third best thing is the breadth of offerings.  Tasting plates, sharing platters, bigger meals, fun cocktails, a raft of craft beers, wines, front deck casual spaces, inside slightly more formal, etc (and a damned fine ladies toilet).

The menu leans towards seafood and mediterranean, with dishes like penne with tuna puttanesca, Italian lardo with agro dolce onions on toasted ciabatta, cucumber salad with potato, olives, fennel and yoghurt dressing, Waimea crab ravioli with crab bisque (keen to try that next time), Waimea seafood plate to share, etc.

Waimea fishchipsMany online reviews talked about small servings for prices charged, but we found them to be satisfactory. Especially the $23 Sacred Water Pilsner battered fish and chips (monkfish no less) which had three fairly substantial pieces of fish on hand cut chips, and perfectly satisfied Mr Him Indoors.

Two of our three dishes (two tasters) could have done with a little more seasoning though and I’d like to sample more of the seafood options next time to really judge the food quality I think (ergo arrive with empty stomach).

1 Waimea Road, Waikanae Beach.

 

 

 

 

 

Toast it baby…

I’ve been passing Toast It at inopportune times, so this weekend I made a point of being opportune.

Toast it logoAnd you know what?  This might just be one of the Cuba quarter’s well-kept secrets.

Once you get past the starkness of the premises, the gourmet toasted sandwiches are very well done.

Fresh free-range ingredients.  Crispy delicious ciabatta (alternate gluten-free options available).  Interesting and well balanced contents (the balance of blue cheese to caramelised sweet onions and spinach in the Herbivore was very good, as was the honey mustard to the bacon, camembert and caramelised sweet onions in the Trot-A-Lot).  Presentation in individual bags for mess containment.  Interesting toastie names a’la’Burgerfuel (check out the toastie menu here and updates on their Facebook page here).

Toast it toastieAnd one can make custom toasties, or add sides (fries, pickles, salads) or even have a breakfast or dessert toastie (I’m so going back for the french toast, blueberry and lemon curd, honey apple walnut, and caramelised pear and ginger ones….).

There’s a fridge of cold drinks to accompany your toastie, and a coffee machine of sorts, and they even stretched to cold water for us (albeit in dentist-style plastic cups which was a bit humorous but not outside of keeping with the fairly simple environment).

So, 10am to 8pm daily (7 days per week) at 103 Vivian Street (near the Taranaki Street corner in the former Piccolo restaurant location).

Gotta do it.

The Mt Vic Chippery

Mt Vic ChipperyFinally.

An evening without a 60 minute wait (25 tonight and I think that was between waves if the number of people jammed into the Chippery when we went back to collect was anything to go by; since it had seemed rude not to pop across to the Black Sparrow for an ale while waiting).

The fish was fresh and tasty (although not sure I’d go the herb crumb with parmesan coating again, which turned out to be mostly herbs stuck to the fish with melted parmesan and nary a crumb in sight), the presentation suitably classy (individual branded boxes) and the hand cut agria fries outstanding (large, fleshy, crispy exterior, soft interior, and the small portion so large I shared with new friends also enjoing the evening sun down at the waterfront).

Mt Vic Chippery agria

So although not the usual fish’n’chip cheap, I was very happy to pay for a high quality and highly satisfying treat.  And I liked that my groper was line caught.

Its quite a fun process to (1) select your fish, (2) select your fish’s coat, (3) select the accompanying fries, and (4) select any sauce.  There’s at least half a dozen selections under each of those categories, as well as many other additional offerings (burgers, fish bites, etc).

Yep, I think they just might take the title for best fish’n’chips in the city.

Mt Vic Chippery box5 Majoribanks Street, Mt Victoria.

 

 

Love you longtime Monsoon Poon…

I’ve had a hankering to revisit Monsoon Poon for some time.  Memories of fun with friends, a buzzy atmosphere, fresh and spicy foods (firecracker sliders anyone?), and delicious dessert cocktails kept popping into my mind.

And they didn’t disappoint.

Monsoon Poon entreeOn this occasion a joint Wanzi’s entree (crispy bean curd, smoked pork, spring onion and panko crumbs with honey chilli ginger soy dipping sauce) initiated the tastebuds nicely.  Followed by a mix of chili duck and pineapple curry and Bangkok street noodles with tamarind, chicken, chilli and crushed cashews. All light and delicious (the curry was a thin broth not heavy sauce, and noodles of the thin rice variety).

A pitcher of Kingfisher beer disappeared at about the same pace as the food, and one was left with a lovely warm glow in the tummy and a peaceful easy feeling overall.  What more could you ask for a casual mid-week jaunt?

Monsoon Poon decorThere’s lots of warm red decor, interesting artefacts and attentive staff at Monsoon Poon, and they easily cope with small or large groups (with a pleasant bar to wait in if a table isn’t immediately available).

On this occasion we didn’t have room for dessert, but the fortune cookie box, Malaysian sago pudding, cardamom and orange creme brûlée, vanilla bean, hazelnut and cappuccino cinnamon gelato with salted caramel and crushed hazelnut praline all appealed.  Next time.

Love you long time Monsoon Poon.

Monsoon poon map12 Blair Street.

 

 

 

 

 

The Spruce Goose

On the corner of Moa Point Road and Cochrane Street in Lyall Bay in the former Aero Club building (just behind the mega centre on the waterfront) is the new Spruce Goose.

Spruce goose menuOpen from 7am-11pm 7 days, with two floors of indoor and outdoor dining, this is a beast of a joint.  The same brunch/lunch menu operates from 7am-3pm, then counter snacks until 5pm and then dinner kicks off.  No bookings at any time.

I did like that the brunch/lunch menu had an ‘on toast’ section with a good range of things you could choose to complement your toast.  And the most impressive thing – on a busy sunny still-pretty-much-holiday Saturday around 11am with the place looking full to the gunnels from the outside – we were seated within 5 minutes and the food came 15 minutes later as promised.  I absolutely didn’t expect them to deliver to that timeframe and do it with well presented tasty food to boot (so it just goes to show the big venues can handle it if they’re turning people through and have good systems in place).

Spruce goose mushroomsHaving said that, the first time I called in around 2pm on a weekday I was told there was a 45 minute wait for food and their cabinet was bare, so I carried on down to Maranui Surf Club where I enjoyed cabinet fare in a slightly more peaceful environment.  Be interesting to see what impact the Spruce Goose has on the Surf Club long-term (if at all).

The marinated mushroom salad with organic smoked yoghurt was very pleasant (and pretty), albeit I would have preferred a few more dollops of smoked yoghurt to really experience the melded flavours, and the eggs benedict had loads of good quality ham and was proclaimed tasty.

Spruce goose imageThe clientele is mixed between families, cyclists, big groups, couples, young and old, and is fairly noisy at times (depending on where one is seated), so I suspect its a good leisurely group brunch/lunch spot, or a good late afternoon beer/early dinner spot.

The surfers across the road weren’t getting much air on this day (check out some views here on SG’s Facebook page), but there’s plenty to keep one (or one’s kids) amused with plane traffic if the surfing’s a bit flat.

Be interesting to see how these guys are doing in six months time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Manawatu moments…

Visiting close friends and family for Xmas is surely a good reason to check out a few more eats in the area (and a walk or two to balance the books, thanks Nick and Robyn!).

Recommended…

  • Bridge Cafe’s Friday pizza evening. From 5.30pm. Georgous garden setting.  Great company.  Delicious wood fired thin crust pizzas. Mushrooms, roasted pears and blue cheese. Enough said.
  • Elm brushetta fig labneFeilding’s Bookmark Cafe in the Paper Plus store.  A delicious early morning warm crispy-exteriored banana chocolate chip muffin. Will definitely be back to try the cabinet fare later in the day sometime.
  • Elm Cafe’s brasserie lunch.  Superb food, good service, and great company again. Four different dishes were all highly rated, including the brushetta with figs, prosciutto, labne and rocket; the salmon on spinach ricotta lasagne; the omelette; and the mushrooms with rocket, baby spinach, brie and truffle butter.  The cabinet and brunch menus all looked pretty darned fine too.
  • Ye da decorYe Da’s sizzling black pepper chicken (Hong Kong style). Fairly reminiscent of Wagamama, with clean and crisp decor, wooden tables for small or large groups, good service and a range of Asian dishes.
  • Barista’s coffee (L’Affare) and cake.  The luscious lemon slice was indeed luscious, and on a Saturday evening the owners are both present, one adding to the fabulous wall mural (I’ve never seen anyone painting in evening clothes before) and one singing sultry songs to provide a delicious ambience to go with the food.  My pick for a post-movie or post-show stop (they claim to open very late).

So happy festive eating everyone, and catch you again in 2014…. (doesn’t that sound weird!).

Barista

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