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…

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

Adelaide Trading Co Licensed Deli

Adelaide RoadJust a couple of doors down from the Goose Shack, and opposite the Gramercy Bakery, we now have the Adelaide Trading Co Licensed Delicatessen at Beramphore.

So it’d be rude not to visit on the way back from the airport right? (although being the morning after Beervana, we didn’t test out the licensed bit…..).

John and Z (Snook) opened ATC in June of this year and are settling into their groove. They make a bunch of their own products which they use in their dishes and you can take home if you fancy (grapefruit marmalade, house-smoked kippers, pickled vegetables, sourdough loaves), and use others’ where they have yet to tread or there’s a great product available (sauerkraut, Blackball salami, light rye loaves).

Adelaide ruebenWhile waiting for our spicy baked beans on crushed spuds and a Reuben sandwich, John whipped up a fresh carrot-based juice for me, which was smooth and creamy with a light orange back note lending a little sweetness. Nice.

The Rueben here is done on lightly toasted light rye with a good ratio of sauerkraut, corned beef and swiss cheese. Being made with a lighter touch overall than some traditional Rueben’s you didn’t need a crowbar to wrench your jaw open super wide and it sat well in the stomach after. I also liked the quality of the grainy mustard on the side for my own mix and match pleasure.

Adelaide beansThe baked beans were lightly spiced and went well with the baked potatoes beneath, although could have done with a smidge more seasoning; a very rustic and pretty dish.

There were also daily specials on the blackboard, and the cabinet had many appealing offerings including delicious-looking mince and cheese pies (next time), fritata’s, vegan slices, hand-made sandwiches, and a whole raft of treats for after (including these fab ninja cookies made locally at Hataitai by the Royal Icing Academy, apparently also the business for celebration cakes).

Adelaide ninjasAnd we got to watch the karate class in action through the glass at the rear while chowing down.

A convivial atmosphere, pleasant food and entertainment to boot. What more could you want in your local neighbourhood deli?

Daytimes Monday to Sunday.

469 Adelaide Road.

Adelaide bread Adelaide decor

Adelaide pies

Adelaide pickles

The Little Teapot, Kilbirnie

thumb_IMG_1978_1024What a cute little tea room with dainty, well-priced high tea ($25).

The Little Teapot is the sister of the Carlton Cafe just down the block, where the food is all created. Although high teas are The Little Teapot’s main gig, you can pop in for tea, coffee and cake. But pick your moment as they’re often solidly booked for high teas (however, there’s nothing stopping you doing a dine’n’dash with takeaway goodies!).

thumb_IMG_1982_1024The Tea Total selection was long and interesting, with selections like cranberry and carrot fruit tea, peach and rose sweet Sunday, feng shui green tea and more, but I couldn’t go past my favourite chamomile flowers. And we were presented with a teapot each, in its own individually knitted cosy. Nice.

The food included baby quiche and scones, tiny cupcakes, baby friands, cucumber and mixed sandwiches, mushroom pasties, chocolate mousse and more. All perfectly bite sized (so this won’t have to double as lunch). And the decor was pink and cute, as teashops are supposed to be.

thumb_IMG_1983_1024I left feeling comfortable, not too sugared out, and thinking I’d definitely return.

If you’re not a tea drinker you can swap your tea out for hot chocolate or coffee, and those who did seemed to enjoy them.

Nice one Kilbirnie.

29 Coutts Street, Kilbirnie.


Portlander (and their 2015 VWOAP pleasures…)

Things come in threes right? I’ve unexpectedly ended up at Portlander three times this week. Go figure.

Portlander lunchAnd looking back, I’m feeling pleasure about all three visits.

Firstly was lunch with a friend (why would you pay $10 for a panini at a crowded cafe when you could pay $15-$18 for a delicious salad at a serviced restaurant with a nice ambience?), secondly was an invite to a sneak preview of their VWOAP 2015 DINE plates and burger (more below and the full range of pics at the bottom) and thirdly was to someone else’s drinks (thanks for the guidance on the Japanese whisky Antonio!).

Portlander scallopsAlthough primarily a steak restaurant, Portlander do offer up dishes for a wider audience – seafood chowder, seasonal salads, soups, a range of burgers, and even some vego options (on the autumn menu there was both a smoked tuna and a vego kedgeree).

You will of course still find signature items like the Wakanui eye fillet (90 day grain finished Angus and Hereford Canterbury cattle), T-bones, venison, the daily seafood catch etc, with the most popular combination still remaining oysters, steak, and something chocolate to finish (and if you must have fried eggs on the side of your steak they at least will be truffle fried).

Portlander wakanuiPortlander like to use local product wherever possible (Otaki free-range pork, Palliser lamb, Zany Zeus smoked brinza) and are also conscious of recycling and managing food waste effectively. As an example they partner with Kaibosh to re-use the rest of the potatoes left over from the hand-cut chunky fries. Cool.

Because they understand the need for local support, Portlander host a range of regular events like ‘chic chat’ lunches for women with inspiring women speakers, sport-associated events (Melbourne Cup long lunch in November), and also have a free-membership Prime Club with a range of one-offs like masterclasses, whisk(e)y tastings, 2:1 lunches prior to Xmas, etc. They’ve also just announced a Backyard Cricket Long Xmas Lunch (yes you truly are going to play cricket) in conjunction with the Westpac stadium. Busy people.

Alongside all that, Portlander are a regular VWOAP contender. After getting to taste them all (I know, but someone’s gotta do it…) the dishes I’m still thinking about are the Hunter Games burger (wild venison patty, smoked bacon, cheese and cherry relish), the Yellow Brick Road Ora King Salmon main (cold smoked salmon on crushed
potato, house preserved lemon and extra virgin olive oil), and the RJ’s liquorice baked cheesecake dessert (individual baked cheesecake with apple sourz sorbet).

Portlander WOAP burgerAnd if you have the wild venison main during VWOAP, you’ll be given co-ordinates to an online map showing where your particular deer was caught by a shy local hunter (via QR code I believe). Can’t get much stronger provenance than that.

Portlander also have a significant drinks menu, featuring a large range of whisk(e)y’s, bourbons and cocktails (even a separate whisky cocktail section), and I like that wines can be purchased by the half glass.

Portlander is definitely not your usual hotel restaurant.

In Rydges on the corner of Whitmore and Featherston Streets.

Portlander Scallops[1]

Portlander WOAP lamb

Portlander WOAP venison

Portlander WOAP salmon

Portlander WOAP licorice

Portlander WOAP pnut sw

The Arborist Rooftop Bar and Eatery

Arborist decorI was quite impressed by Arborist (the downstairs bar), and I hadn’t expected to be given its a hotel bar done over, and those can sometimes feel a bit lip service.

However, Arborist’s decor has a cosy log cabin feel, the staff were exceedingly welcoming, fun and friendly, the music matched the decor (slightly country/Steely Dan-ish) and the food was appropriately nibbly to go with a drink or two. They also have a cosy-feeling function room down the back, which a friend told me worked very nicely for a seminar recently.

Arborist tapas1The menu was split into bar bites (like quinoa, cheddar and cauliflower cakes with chilli yoghurt; tortillas with turtle bean salsa, avocado and hot sauce; or a Lumber Jack double beef/cheese or Hot Bird southern fried chicken thigh burger), protein dishes (like crispy pork belly, house gravy and apple crisp; jerk chicken; mutton back strap; or butchers sausages) and green dishes (like beetroot, avocado, pea, red onions, sherry vinegar and chilli; superslaw of kale, carrot, red onion, sweetcorn, chilli, nuts, cabbage and seeds; or caramelised brussel sprouts with shallots and pomegranate). A good range of greens in the current meat-obsessed market.

Arborist tapas 2Nothing was more than $14, and most dishes were under $10. Good prices when you just want a nibble with a drink. Pictured above are the quinoa cakes and southern fried haloumi chips, and at right, the jerk chicken and roast veg salad.

I see they do breakfasts and brunches as well, with some interesting options there too – vegetarian mince on toast of black lentils, coconut, mustard seeds and buttered sourdough; Turkish eggs soft poached with savoury Greek yoghurt, nut chilli butter, toasted coriander seeds and grainy toast; and fig and macadamia brioche french toast with chocolate anglaise or ricotta, love honey and almonds. Tempting.

Arborist mocktailOn the drink front, there were some interesting cocktails (mai tai with added caramelised banana and butter rum; mojito of white rum and pineapple gum syrup with green tea and lime, garnished with mint and a honey cured pineapple slice; pick-me-up of gin, fresh grapefruit juice and agave nectar shaken and served with a spice rim and home-made candied grapefruit peel), all with interesting names like Procrastination, Mid Life Crisis or World Famous Fully Loaded Bloody Mary (!), and a reasonable range of international and local beers and wines (sorry I didn’t get much past the cocktails).

I was actually in a non-alcoholic mood that night so asked the bartender if they had mocktails. He immediately offered to magic something up for me, and after asking a few questions about likes and dislikes produced this above. I’m damned if I know what went into it, but it was tangy without being sharp, not over fruited and long and cool. And oh so pretty with flowers on the top.

One of the group did go for a ‘happy ending’ of Smores and ice cream, which was deconstructed and sweet, and again high in the pretty stakes (pictured below).

Arborist smoresThe cabin rules on the back of the toilet door totally summed up the humour of the staff we dealt with, and should not be missed when visiting Arborist (a couple of examples – we reserve the right to tell you to make like a tree and leave if you are rude or disrespectful to our staff or customers; silver, gold dust or nuggets will also be accepted as payment; no sleeping on the grass or tables, we have rooms next door if you are in need of a snooze).

And I believe their rooftop bar (yes it is on the top of the Trinity Hotel on the 7th floor – access via the hotel lobby lift) is either just opened by now, or just about to. I believe there’s lots of artificial greenery, small BBQs on the table so you can take a creative part in your dining experience, and a fully stocked bar. Bring it on (and the weather to go with it!).

166 Willis Street.

Fusion Virtuoso – Cocktails and Culture

FV headerBecky Chin came second in national cocktail making championships a few years ago while still a student of the local bar school (that being her award-winning cocktail at right), and has opened Fusion Virtuoso with her partner on the corner of Willis and Manners.

They aim to make you smile, make you cocktails and support diversity through offering international dishes, hosting events and employing staff with varied cultural backgrounds.

FV salad root vegesAs promised we found Greek lamb patty stack, Louisiana Jambalaya, Indian Tandoori chicken salad, Tokyo inspired sauteed pork and more, all well priced around $11-$16 at lunch and $23-$30 at night.

The light tuna-infused cottage cheese and tomato salad was simple and not over-tuna’d (yay!), the root veg fritters a pleasant accompaniment (not many places you get taro) and the gumbo warming and gently spicy allowing all components to be tasted.

FV gumboBecky has taken care with choosing her wine and beer lists to showcase both international and local and is clearly passionate about them all. The Greenhough Apple Valley Riesling was light and refreshing as promised.

There are some counter snacks (muffins, scones, cake) to enjoy with coffee and FV pride themselves on making anything else you fancy with prior notice – apparently one gentleman comes to them daily for a particular lunch sandwich, and another requests date scones when in town. Interesting offer.

FV cocktailsTheir first international event was a Colombian night held on 3 July – $39 for a 6-course Columbian meal, performances, music and more, showcasing the Columbian culture and learning stories from Columbians. Watch out for others to come.

However, FV’s lasting impressions for me were the cocktails. There’s an extensive cocktail list as well as a tailor-made service, and with personal preferences declared Becky produced cocktails which suited perfectly – one being of Scotch, coffee and chocolate notes and the other a mocktail of caramel, creamy, amaretto flavours.

And who could go past trying Taiwanese fruit caviar with biscballs.  Great fun!

FV fruit caviarI can see FV being a great place great for groups and functions given the space they have, and ideal for a wine or cocktail stop on passing (especially if you want to hear yourself think).

You can also win food and drinks by following and answering their weekly quizzes, and I spotted some unusual hot chocolate flavours which might be worth a go – hazelnut, strawberry or peppermint.

The conference / function room out back holds up to about 30pax depending on format, and both in- and out-catering is available (a friend was recently very enthusiastic about the quality and presentation of catering for a seminar).

Monday to Saturday daytimes (including breakfast), Tuesday to Saturday evenings until 9pm at this stage.

2 Manners Street.

Field and Green soul

F&G signageWe have a little piece of soul in Wellington now – Field and Green on Wakefield Street in the old Big Bad Wolf premises.

Laura Greenfield has come from London and describes her soul food as simple tried-and-true food, made with high quality ingredients executed properly, and that makes you happy.

This dishes I sampled were all that, and I’m STILL thinking about the house-made rum and raisin ice cream.

Read the full post here.

Tuesday to Sunday daytimes (although keep an eye out for Friday/Saturday evenings in the future).

262 Wakefield Street.

Egmont Street Eatery

Egmont exteriorThe Egmont Street Eatery continues our laneways magic.

Formerly a catering company, they have now opened an eatery and function space in Egmont Street which is simple, slick and slightly American-feeling (according to my companion) – potentially due to seating below lane level, as well as the exposed beams lending industrial chic.

Egmont briocheAlthough you can pop by and grab something from the counter for a quick bite (muffins, scones, brioche and a few sandwiches – very good roast apple and cinnamon brioche I have to say), the main focus is really their menu offerings.

We found them to be fresh, seasonal, well executed and tasty, and a little something different in most dishes – omelette with pork, prawn, greens and xo sauce; house beans, avocado, rocket, herb cream on cornbread; tagliatelle with mushroom, cured egg and sage.

For a late morning Saturday brunch we chose a mushroom, goat cheese, sunflower pesto and rocket sandwich from the lunch menu and the smoked potato hash, pork and fennel sausage with slow egg and chilli off the breakfast menu.

Egmont swichThe sandwich was a nice mix of flavours and textures, with lightly toasted bread, and the mushroom smashed and layered against the goat cheese and pesto for a good balance of all flavours in every mouthful. The potato in the hash was neither too crunchy or too soft and all components were flavourful, with some hints of citrus floating around in the dish; the summary – every forkful a fatty, flavourful, soothing mouthfeel.

Egmont hash

I’m keen to go back for Sunday French toast with poached fruit, nuts and cream fraiche (just because that kinda thing feels like Sunday to me), and also to check out the dinner and drinks experience at the other end of the day. It did feel a little more daytime to me in tone, but I stand to be corrected after I’ve tried the evening.

The staff were welcoming and attentive, and it was nice to see interaction between the staff, customers and chef at the open kitchen counter.  Well done guys.

Monday to Sunday daytimes, evenings Wednesday to Sunday.

15-21 Dixon Street (entrance Egmont Street).

Ministry of Food Bar and Kitchen

MoF have expanded to the Atlanta space on The Terrace.

MoF day menuThe Bowen Street site continues until MSD relocate to The Terrace in later 2016, so you have two MoF choices now – the more grab’n’go style of Bowen Street or the more stop’n’savour sister on the Terrace, which is focusing on kitchen and drinks (the only counter food here being their famed cheese scones).

The lunch and dinner menus are currently about 50% changing daily dishes / 50% pizza and a few blackboard specials, with a focus on fresh, seasonal and varied cuisines (chef Shonagh has considerable international experience and enjoys creating and experimenting).

MoF GaletteThe mushroom galette with Kikorangi blue cheese and salad at lunch had good textures and flavours across the crispy pastry disc, meaty mushroom, oily melted cheese and fresh salad leaves, although could have used just a little something extra with it (crusty piece of bread perhaps?), and the prosciutto, artichoke, mozzarella and olive pizza was generously topped and filling (yes good spotting, it was ordered without the olives!).

MoF pizzaI think the Bar and Kitchen’s strength will be the ever-changing and interesting menu items (pizzas being more of a drink accompaniment/big group staple), with a number of other dishes catching my eye – potato gnocchi with venison, pancetta, and parmesan ragu; risotto alla norma with tomato crispy eggplant and sage; Portugese monkfish and mussell stew with peppers, saffron, almond and tomato, to name a few.

On the drinks menu I spotted a Doctors low alcohol Sauvignon Blanc, and a good mix of local Martinborough/Marlborough and Central Otago wines – MoF Hoptone of the owners is ex-Wanaka hospitality and has connections in the wine industry. MoF also stock a range of craft beers, many local, and from time to time a contract brew made for them by Baylands Brewery (next up a winter brown ale), and pleasingly in the non-alcoholic space, Hopt low-sugar sodas. These come in interesting flavours and make a nice change from the fruit juice or coke / sprite / ginger beer standars (I can thoroughly recommend the salted lychee soda).

MoF specialsMoF are offering daily deals – Monday June Winter Warmer 2 for 1 breakfasts 7-9am, Lazy Thursday 2 for 1 dinner when buying a drink each, Flaring Friday 2 for 1 cocktails 4.30-6pm, etc – and intend to hold events from time to time. Given they only open Monday to Friday, its also not a bad space to hire for a private function on a weekend.

The service was welcoming, friendly and professional (a deliberate focus for them), and I could see this becoming a place to pop by for a graze and quiet one on the way home.

Prices ranged mostly between $18 and $25 across both day and evening menus.

Monday to Friday 7am til late.

105 The Terrace

Annam, Thief Bar, and Hillside

annamA few new places I’ve reviewed for KNOW Wellington in recent months in case you missed them over there:

Annam – the re-model of Arbitrageur into a joint venture by Chris Green and Nam relocated from the Willis Street Village – French-influenced Vietnamese street food and cocktails in a funky casual Indochine setting. No bookings, expect to wave down a staff member when you need one, and enjoy true subtle-flavoured Vietnamese food  – check out the review here.

thiefThief bar – the re-model of Vivo in Edwards Street by lads from Christchurch – quality tasting plates (still Italian leaning), house-made cocktail ingredients, still a large range of wines with the cellar continuing, music on Fridays/Saturdays from 9pm, and a cool place to enjoy a drink and taste in this part of town – check out the review here.


hillsideHillside Kitchen and Cellar on the corner of Tinakori Road and Hill Street – blackboard menu and a range of scones during the day, $55 or $65 set dinners at night with wine, craft beer or non-alcoholic drink matching options. Ever-changing, fresh and interesting, all outstanding, and much made in-house – check out the review here.

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