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

Lovely Le Marche

Tarts, tarts, tarts.

Le Marche cabinetTomato, leek and roqueforte, summer fruits, salmon, lemon, chocolate and orange, pear and ginger, quiche lorraine, and more.

This is the choice you will face at Le Marche, and that’s without the menu options of croques, baguettes, etc.

I’d come back for the pastry on the leek and roqueforte tart alone (flaky and tender), and thats before I got to the excellent balance of leek and roqueforte loosely bound by egg.  Absolutely no small windowless buildings here.

Le Marche leek

The tomatoes on the side salad require comment too – highly flavourful and ‘real’.  I can only imagine how the tomato tart would have tasted (next time!).

I really enjoy the atmosphere and authenticity of Le Marche and its staff each time I visit, being in the funky and creative-feeling Woolstore design centre, and having the opportunity to browse in the Le March deli before leaving (keep an eye on their facebook page for current cheese specials).

If you can fit dessert after your delish tart, there’s creme brulee or hand-made macarons.

Le Marche deliThere’s no way you wont leave Le Marche with a smile on your face.

Monday to Friday 7.45am – 4pm (note coffees finish at 3pm), Saturdays 8.45am – 3pm, and Friday evenings by reservation.

262 Thorndon Quay.

Food truck fun

We’re starting to get a few food trucks kicking around Wellington these days, and a small collection of them can be found at The Taranaki Wharf on Thursday afternoons and evenings (and a few on Wednesdays and Fridays). Go inFiretruck the afternoon if you also want to check out the crafty stalls in the baby containers dotted around.

If the previous year’s form continues and the weather gods permit, this will be a weekly event right through until the end of March, so there’s plenty of time left to get yourself down there and sample the wares.

Curbside CafeThis week’s collection included The Greek Food Truck (souvlaki, haloumi and greek sausages), The Firetruck (smokey BBQ burgers), Curbside Café (lots of sliders), Nicce Chilean (hotdogs and empanadas), the Sichuan Spice trailer (street noodles and dumplings) and Santos Churros (for dessert).

I couldn’t go past The Firetruck’s BBQ pulled pork shoulder on brioche bun with fennel and bacon slaw, and chipotle mayo. Good smokiness without being overpowering and a pleasant mix of soft and crunchy on the tongue.

Firetruck burgerIt was also pleasing to see them supporting other local artisans with Wooden Spoons’ ice cream sandwiches for afters (I can vouch for these from past experience!).

I think Wellingtonians should get out there and support the food trucks as they add a fun aspect to our cityscape, allow you to try many things in one location, and acknowledge the chance these brave souls are taking in trying to get this mobile industry into gear (pun intended).

For next week I’m eyeing up those street noodles ….

Jano bistro

The yellow villa at 270 Willis Street holds special food and ambience memories for me (from the Citron days), and I think Jano Bistro might just carry on that tradition.

Jano bldgPierre-Alain Fenoux, French-born and trained, former Head Chef of Le Canard, and 2014 Chef of the Capital sees himself as an Alchemist of food constantly seeking new ideas and techniques, and promoting ‘bistronomy’ – the marriage of bistro and gastronomy (fine dining in a relaxed environment).

No pressure then.

The name Jano pays homage to Pierre’s French gardener grandfather and the learnings at his knee about local, fresh and seasonal (and yes, the kitchen at Jano is tiny to further inspire daily freshness and innovation – no freezers here).

So Jano is open weekdays from 7am-10amish for coffee (Flight) and muffins (check out their FB page for daily creations), weekends from 8am-3pm for brunch, and Tuesday to Sunday evenings for dinner.

Jano cabinetMy first visit was a Sunday lunch, and my second a Tuesday dinner. Both times were impressive, and I left thinking there’s some definite smarts in the kitchen here and some complexity and considerable attention to detail in what’s being presented.

Be it cooking techniques, flavour/texture combinations, overall presentation, table settings, service, etc, they seem to have it nailed.  Although I do wonder how they’ll maintain their very good price points for all of that – $17 brunch, $32 mains, $14 desserts.

Now to the food specifically.

Jano parcelsThe smoked fish cake with asian-slaw, peanuts and chilli mayo was crisp, fresh, flavourful and beautifully presented (interesting slaw).

The crispy parcels of tomato ragu served with black pudding, confit egg and spinach were well rated for flavour combination and uniqueness (the confit egg having a yolk that held together when pierced inside its soft tender white).

The beef (Red Devon) two ways included a very visually appealing and tasty ‘building’ of beef rib.

The pork squares of deliciously slow cooked belly then crisped and served in a sweet corn, mushroom and chilli broth melted in the mouth.

Jano pork entreeThe apricot dessert of rosemary grilled apricots topped with soy custard and compressed apricot (intriguingly transparent) accompanied by a cashew nut crumble and small cubes of intense apricot was almost too pretty to eat.

And the Whittakers 72% Ghana with several densities, techniques and presentations of chocolate left the imbiber describing the chocolate mousse as the chocolate equivalent of a ripe fresh peach straight from the tree on a sunny mid-summers day.  Far out!

Jano dessertNext time I’m going for the unique Mebus Estate (Wairarapa) chardonnay served warm and only available at Jano, the cauliflower main (as interesting vegetarian dishes are a rarity), the cheese dessert (which is actually a mini salad built around the cheese being showcased at the time), and I’m going to sit in the outside courtyard along the side of the villa (weather gods permitting).

Jano outdoorThe wine list is interesting (a number available here only due to the small size and particular supplier they use) and there’s also a 7-course $95 degustation if you’d like to really push the boat out.

Fresh, simple and innovative with a dash of the unexpected? Absolutely yes.

And darned good value for the effort and care taken.

Paekakariki’s Perching Parrot

So you can tell its summer and I’m getting a little more riding in (motorised, yes).

Perch Parrot decorMy last sojourn out of the city took me to Paekakariki’s Perching Parrot cafe, Paekakariki meaning perching place of the kakariki – green parrot (bet you didn’t know that huh?, me neither prior to Friday).

So the Perching Parrot is a funky indoor/outdoor cafe in the main street of Paekakariki, doing lots of vegan and vegetarian dishes with fresh seasonal ingredients, a cabinetful of delicious-looking cakes and slices, and a great array of Siggy’s famous-on-the-coast pies (although these are not so vego), and Havana coffee.

Perch Parrot frittersMy spinach and feta fritters were fresh, tender and flavourful, and accompanied by a generous green salad.

The service was friendly and welcoming, there’s a good array of reading material and one can pop next door to the Beach Road Deli afterwards to buy goodies for a delicious home-made platter for dinner.

What more could one want?

7 Beach Road, Paekakariki.

Little White Rabbit

Little White Rabbit is part of a his (Village Inn Kitchen in Palmerston North) and hers (Little White Rabbit at Foxton Beach and Picnic Daze) hospo duo.

LWR decorApprox 1km back from the beach, LWR is one of those quintessentially cool cafes with a [probably deceptively] casually thrown together rusticness, simple home-made food, and relaxed service.

There are two large community tables inside (check out the door latch still on the rear table), and a number of smaller ones out front for the sun-lovers or those who don’t want to commune.

The menu is small – 4-5 blackboard daily specials, a few cabinet shelves, and a couple of pizzas which looked delicious when delivered nearby and might be the kind of thing one’d make a special trip here for.

LWR eggs bruschThe drinks included Foxton Fizz and the usual suspects, but also a freshly squeezed house juice changing as the day goes along (the current flavour pegged up on the blackboard). Alas by 1pm on a Sunday the freshly squeezed juices were all gone (seems a shame for prime time weekend holiday trade) and so we settled for a commercial guava juice. A number of the scone and cake plates on the main servery were empty by that time too. Popular place.

LWR vege pieThe eggs and tomato brushetta was tasty and pretty (above) and the cabinet vegetable pie dense and flavourful, although could have done with some accompanying chutney to round it off.

The fact that Picnic Daze operates out of the Manawatu probably explains why I couldn’t get a picnic delivered on Xmas Eve Wednesday in Wellington for Xmas lunch despite the website advertising Wellington deliveries Wednesday to Friday (disappointing, as I do like a unique Xmas Day experience each year), so I will have to find another occasion to test those out.

LWR counterWe enjoyed the paper and a quiz or two whilst chilling, and noticed a book swap developing, so if I lived at FX beach, I’d probably pop by fairly regularly.

Tuesday to Sunday daytimes.

106 Seabury Avenue, Foxton Beach.

LWR logo


Whitebait is the new Whitehouse venture, run by Paul Hoather’s ex-Sydney in-laws (who both have considerable respect in the food world from all accounts).

Whitebait decorIn the interests of brevity since there’s still many xmas pies to eat and carols to sing, here’s my initial foray thoughts:

  • It had a very Auckland viaduct feel to me (views, diner mass, reasonably generic décor).
  • If you enjoy all kinds of seafood, you’ll enjoy this menu (approx 80% is seafood).
  • No disputing the food quality, especially the dessert work of arts (do make room for one).
  • Take a walletful of cash (the herb and parmesan crusted
    bluenose needed a side, taking the $41 price tag to $50).
  • Whitebait entreeEntrees are substantial enough and of sufficient interest to have as a main with a side ($24-$32 + $9), and include a couple of whitebait options as you’d hope for a place named Whitebait (I can recommend the semolina noodles with whitebait, garlic and chilli).
  • The wine list was varied and split into helpful categories (smoky and rich whites, dark and brooding reds, fine and rare, etc).
  • The service needs to settle in a bit (early days).
  • Whitebait dessertI’m keen to try lunchtime and see how that compares (overall vibe).

It’ll be interesting to see how they go after the honeymoon period given the average diner these days wants to eat out more often for the same $.

Clyde Quay Wharf (old Overseas Terminal for those of us over 20).

Are we there yet on the burgers?

Apparently not.

On Willis Street in the old Crazy Horse Steakhouse premises is the new Burger Liquor.  I’m a bit disturbed by the word Liquor in a food outlet title, but after having been along I can understand a bit more of what they’re about.

Burger Liq decorThe décor, like Five Boroughs of last week, is a bit graffiti’d and edgy (industrial funk popped into my head, although I have no clue what that really means!), they specialize in burgers, rums and bourbons (a different bourbon showcased each day), they have the requisite American snacks and sides (bread and butter pickles, onion rings, buffalo wings, etc) and they were reasonably busy on an early Saturday evening (off to a good start then).

Most burgers had interesting components or flavours (chicken jerk rubbed Waitoa free-range chicken with roasted fennel and peach chutney; crumbed market fish with picked cucumber and white onion, lemon and dill mayo), and I applaud them Burger Liq burger1for the comment by the beef options – ‘Beef burgers are cooked medium rare. End of Story.’

The quinoa, faro, goats cheese, spinach and beet relish burger was tasty (with a pleasing balance of textures in the crispy-exteriored, soft-interiored brioche buns), and the smokey ground chuck and short rib with streaky bacon, onion rings, nim jam and scarmoza also got a tick. The comment from the smokey burger eater when comparing here versus Five Boroughs was that these burgers are more complex. Okay then.

Burger Liq hard shakesWe enjoyed one of the ‘hard’ shakes (a’la Burger ‘Liquor’) – the Malt’n’Salt Jim Beam Choice, maltesers and salted caramel – which was made with Kapiti vanilla ice cream giving a pleasingly thick texture. Very moorish and a pleasant surprise.

I noticed on the way out that they’re passing on the 2% credit card fees, and the bright blue exterior paint still doesn’t do it for me, however it was a pleasant eat overall and we’ll definitely be back sometime.

Open every day from 11am.

129 Willis Street.

Five Boroughs

5 Boroughs grafittiA bit edgy. A bit American. A bit hidden away. These guys’ll do alright.

There were a fair few burgers ordered in our group (so how did I manage to not end up with a photo of a burger?), presented as one would expect with pickles and chippies. The potato and gravy and paprika dusted fries all disappeared fairly quickly so we take that as a good sign, however no one was quite game for cheesy and gravy fries.

For the one in the group who didn’t follow the herd, the smoky pork short ribs were tasty, meaty and non-fatty (and looked pretty on the board), although the side of fried artichoke hearts with bacon needed more crispy bacon bits and less mayo.

5 Boroughs foodIntriguingly, although there’s a non-alcoholic drinks list, there isn’t an alcoholic one.  There’s a short wine list on the wall, and you rely on the staff to tell you the beer options. Huh. They do offer bottomless coffee though if you like several buckets of caffeine at a time.

The milkshake flavours are also interesting – bam bam baklava (perhaps a link to the Phoenician Falafel parents?), jelly tip, trippple chocolate (yes intended), after dinner mint and bounty.

5 Boroughs decorBoth the caramel tart and carrot cakes on the counter looked appealing, and the dessert menu is simple and to the point (banana split, sundae or pie with cream), but alas the group couldn’t quite do it. Clearly more practice required.

I don’t think you’d come here for sensational food, but I do think you’d come here for a fun time.

Corner Roxburgh and Majoribanks Streets.

Puro Chilean

Puro wallSo just inside the Grand Arcade, Willis Street entrance, is now a Chilean lunch and espresso bar called Puro.

Coffees, an alfajor and cheese bread (scone) hit the mark for a mid-week bolster before work.

The ‘scone’ had a crisp outside and cheesy viscousness inside that was a little different from a normal scone, but well worthy of a return visit.

Puro counterThe coffee came with a cuchufli (pronounced koo-choo-flee, fun!) hollow wafer filled with manjar/de leche. Nice.

The cabinet was filled with tasty (and generous) looking sandwiches, hot dogs and empanadas. They make their own bread on-site and were friendly and welcoming.

Puro coffeeThere’s really only two or three seats (and onsite food is served with plastic plates and cutlery – expedient in washing up terms), so this is most likely to be a takeaway lunch bar for most.

7.30am (Mon-Fri) to 3pm (Mon/Tues) or 4pm (Wed-Fri).

The Bresolin

That’s it.  I’m meated out.

Bresolin mushroomsGoing to the new Bresolin with a big group meant a zeroing in on the feast dishes (whole shoulder of lamb, whole roasted chicken) with a range of small dishes to keep the wolves from the door initially given the feast dishes would take an hourish.

The small dishes included a salmon and watercress salad; steak tartare; calamari with wakame; and mushrooms with pea shoots, polenta and mascarpone.  All were quality and nicely presented (the vegge dishes were the most interesting of the lot though – check out here).

Lke most places deciding to have small or tasting plates recently I’m not all that sold on some of the price points ($14 for a dish of butternut pumpkin, carrots and almonds, $8 for a very small bowl of unadorned salad leaves?). However there’s absolutely no way you’d go hungry here if feasting.

Bresolin meatsAnd American is clearly the new black (will it take the mantle from meat as the new black?) – at the Bresolin you’ll find burgers, buttermilk fried chicken, a range of soda pops in the traditional sarsaparilla style (pear and ginger, blueberry lemonade, rhubarb and basil), daily soft serve ice-cream, etc.

There’s a daily guest beer on tap (something from the UK on this occasion), as well as a range of NZ craft beers, NZ and European wines, cocktails, hot chocolate, gumboot tea and their own Gentlemen’s Beans coffee, so something liquid for everyone.

Bresolin spit roastAnd a whole spit roast animal over the courtyard barbecue pit of a Sunday (now only to be the last Sunday of the month given the effort required) and you must buy a ticket which gets you beast, house baked rolls, slaw, beer and music.

The atmosphere is fun (beware its noisy in the upstairs restaurant when full), the different spaces capture the different customers well (courtyard, bar, restaurant) and the service is slick, so the Bresolin will do well.

278 Willis Street (corner of Karo Drive and Willis).

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