foodiegemsofwellie

For worthy 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 or hosting Zest Food Tour guests around the city…

#wellyonaplate 2016 stand-outs

So far, ten days in.

Best burgers:

  • Egmont Street Eatery’s Sichuan two-tooth – an excellent mix of flavours and textures, very appealing visually, and interesting crispy tentacle side.

ESE two tooth sichuan

  • Artisan’s Longbush ‘spam’ burger– delicious house spam, tender marshmallowy crumbed brain, and superb house apple and pineapple salsa. Excellent fries too, although we didn’t detect any of the advertised chilli butter on them.

Artisan longbush spam brains2

  • Louis Sergeant’s Le Canard du Roy – rich confit duck and crispy greens in the perfect brioche bun (many of the brioche buns are falling between a smidge and a lot short in my view this year) and superb duck fat fries.

LS Le Canard Du Roy

Best DINE dishes:

Larder elk

Glasshouse pork custard

ESE gingerbread blue baked feijoa

  • Gelissimo’s Five flavours of fun – the roast chicken dinner flight tasted just like roast chicken, carrots, peas, beetroot (unforuntately!) and hokey dessert. Watch out for a new nut flight this week.

Gelis roast dinner

Best cocktails:

  • St John’s Elitist martini v2 – superb champagne popsicle, lovely flavours in the drink, and a bit of theatre.

St Johns Elitist Martini4

  • CGR’s BGR – a clever take on the burger and beer competition. A warming mulled beer with a delicious head (can I say that in public?), and a sweet side elevated to outstanding by the addition of mature Moore Wilson Linkwater cheddar.

BGR at CGR

  • Burger Liquor’s Smooth sailer – a classy soda with excellent Zany Zeus cream and baby ice cream sammie.

Burger Liquor smooth sailor

And the header pic – one of The Library’s sweet slider surprises. Also definitely worth a visit.

Bring on the next seven days!

Sterling on the Terrace

Sterling is a must-do.

This next venture from the Egmont Street Eatery folks is a bigger establishment on the Terrace where The Pub used to be, with a feature wood-fired oven.

Sterling oven

The decor is simple but classy-feeling; the staff professional, courteous and helpful; and the food the absolute standard we’ve come to associate with ESE.

On this first visit only a few days after opening, we enjoyed a late lunch of vanilla-rum baked French toast (divine) and a Wagyu burger (moist and flavourful, and although shoestrings are my least favourite chip, they were crispy and well cooked). They’ve taken care to make sure things are right from day one, super important in Wellington’s saturated dining market.

Sterling rum-vanilla baked french toast

Sterling wagyu burger

I spotted a whole bunch of things on the menus that appeal to me no end, so I’m delighted that Sterling are open 7 days, and only a block or so down from where I live.

The drinks include a typical range of beers, wines, spirits, digestifs and non-alcs, with good NZ representation. A couple of champagne options caught my eye, as well as there being several choices by the glass for most wine varietals. Nice. There are even a few big reserve bottles for those who like something altogether different.

Sterling brunch menu

Sterling dessert menu

I’m also currently trying to figure how to fit a couple of their delicious-looking scones into my WOAP schedule over the next week or two. I’m sure my inner planner is up to the task, even if my eyes prove to be bigger than my stomach.

Sterling scones 2

I’m not sure there’s much more I can say other than get thee to Sterling soon.

And check out their WOAP offerings (bookings recommended).

101 The Terrace.

 

Veg and vegan at the Cross

Although the Southern Cross Bar and Restaurant has meaty stone grills and a roast dinner on Sundays and Wednesdays, their strength is the ever-increasing range of interesting vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan offerings (and the fabulous sun-drenched beer garden in summer).

On my most recent visit I had a Buddha Bowl of roasted spiced carrot and mint, wild rice and cranberry pilaf, toasted chickpeas (was a little wary about that component when ordering), spinach leaves, and a creamy almond dressing. It could have been up-scaled with Zany Zeus halloumi, chilli soy tofu, garlic chilli prawns or spiced chicken, but I decided I’d go for the basic and see what I thought.

Sthn X budda bowl

It really was excellent. The almond sauce was a nice conductor, and the toasted chickpeas were deliciously textured and light (not the dry dusty journey I’d expected). After sampling all the components, I ended up combining the the dish into a delicious mixed salad. Satisfying and healthy, nice.

I noticed they have quite the cake cabinet too now (if you don’t eat your chickpeas, you can’t have pudding!), so its also an easy place to slide by for a coffee and cake. Especially on peaceful weekdays. With at least two vegan options available always.

Sthn X cabinet

The Cross is all about different nooks and crannies, casual and easy dining, and suitable for everyone from families to students to lunch-time workers dashing in and out, a weekend BBQ in the sunny courtyard, or a large event. And excellent for those with vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free requirements.

There’s easily another dozen things I’m eyeing up, including:

  • the almond pina colada smoothie
  • the almond porridge topped with caramelised bananas, walnuts and lightly toasted coconut
  • the mushroom and halloumi Aro burger
  • the halloumi stone grill with mediterranean vegetables, beetroot and sunflower seed dip, and roasted kumara
  • the vegan cashew mac’n’cheese
  • Spanish baked tofu
  • butter and sage ricotta gnocchi
  • Mediterranean lentils with grilled veggies, toasted pistachios and crispy tofu or marinated and baked feta
  • I could go on and on…..

SthnX salt car ccake

I also might or might not have checked out the salted caramel cheesecake on a previous occasion. Somewhere along the line I’ve lost the side picture which shows that this beauty stood about 2 inches high, but you’ll get the idea. Rich, moorish and very memorable. My advice – share with a friend.

And do have a look at their Wellington on a Plate offerings too, again interesting vegetarian and vegan.

Sthn X night decor 2

7 days and nights.

39 Abel Smith Street

 

 

Tomboy treats

My feet happened to take me past the new Tomboy Cakery on Majoribanks this morning where Plentiful Deli used to be, so it would have been rude not to go in right?

Tomboy exterior

Tomboy is a delightful cake shop with a range of inviting treats. From scones to brioche, cake, doughnuts and freshly made juices, there’s no way you won’t be able to get your day off to a great start here. You can either enjoy in-situ at the large communal table or take away if you’re strong-willed enough. And if you keep an eye on their Facebook page, you’ll see each day’s lunch-time treats as well.

Owner Kate has a hospitality background, and has always enjoyed baking. Given she’s been making beautiful cakes for a while, the natural progression was a shop of her own. Which is beautifully decorated (including the bathrooms, always a good tell) and restful, even with the buzz of folk coming in and out. The staff are well presented, friendly and welcoming, and were already addressing locals by name – a nice touch.

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So to the food. Kate has principles about no waste, fresh and local, and using whatever’s to hand in the kitchen. And simplicity – that the most satisfying cake is probably still a light fresh sponge with jam and cream, and simply decorated, as you can see from her instagram pics (they sell their jam at the shop too if you fancy).

I started with a ‘cake biscuit’, which a little birdie told me might have been the result of a happy accident (all the best inventions); like biscotti but softer in texture, and the perfect bite with my Storm and India hibiscus blossom organic hand-crafted tea. And then I managed to squeeze a rhubarb and vanilla bean brioche into my pocket for later, superb when lightly warmed (I figure if I walk to food I’m at least attempting to keep the scales balanced!).

Tomboy tea 2

My neighbours at the table declared the doughnuts worth the trip from the other side of town (apparently they have a Friday morning treat somewhere different each week, an excellent plan!), but do note that the doughnuts are Fridays only. However you can order by the boxful before noon Thursday to guarantee your fix and share the love.

In my opinion Tomboy sit right up there with other quality sweet treats around town. We’re truly blessed aren’t we?

Tomboy brioche.jpg

Kate and team finish baking around 11am each day, so although open until 2pm Tuesdays through Saturdays, they may sell out prior. So go early.

21 Majoribanks Street.

 

 

 

 

Olde Beach Bakery, Waikanae

This is another of my must-do-this-summer places, as they have quite the following. It’s not quite summer, but was a sunny day, so that counts right?

Olde Beach Bakery is owned by the folks who have Long Beach and the North End Brewery at Waikanae Beach (their salt and wood barrel aged beers sound interesting). So a good bit of customer and food experience on board.

The kitchen of the bakery is open, and partly in the front window so you can see the bakers at work (you can wave to them through the window from 4am!). They like to use local and seasonal, including from their own vege garden, and hand craft right down to the milkshake syrups.

I was there at breakfast time so after much eeny-meeny-miny-moeying, I settled on a northern Brittany (French) kouign-amann – a light sourdough with sweet apple that’s created like a croissant with buttery layers, crispy on the outside, and softer on the inside. It was a revelation, and I’d most definitely have one of these again (didn’t help much with the elimination process for next time!).

Bakery Kouign-amann

They also make a range of fresh artisan breads, cheese scones that are highly sought after (verified by a local I was chatting with), miles of pastries, sweet cakes and indulgences, and some very appealing-looking filled baguettes and sandwiches.

The staff were all really friendly, informative and helpful and I’m sure as eggs, that if I lived anywhere near Waikanae, I’d be here more days than not.

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7 days

3 Ono Street, Waikanae Beach

Moustache are here!

The Auckland Moustache Milk & Cookie bar girls have come to visit Wellington.

Moustache bus

They’ve brought their bus down for a few months ahead of a South Island summer tour, so we can enjoy their delicious shakes and cookies on the way (check out their back story). Although they’re likely to be here until December, it might pay to pop along soon if you fancy working your way through their offerings.

They bake their cookies in situ, and display what’s available in jars along the counter. And make their shakes fresh with real ingredients, as evidenced by my gingernut version. Given they bake small batches, odds are you’ll strike a cookie warm from the oven, which is surely the penultimate way to enjoy one of these babies (my fave so far – the white chocolate and macadamia).

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The front of the bus is decked out with seats, so you can wait in comfort if its a brisk Wellington day, including being able to  jump into the drivers seat and fulfil childhood fantasies, hat included. Good thinking.

The other thing of interest is the collaboration with the Garage Project lads to brew another batch of Moustache Ale, the first of which funded the bus outfitting. Apparently it should be ready in a month or so (somewhere around WOAP time), so keep your eye on their Facebook page for how to get your hands on one. It’s a limited run, so you might need to be quick when they appear.

Nice one girls, looking forward to my next visit already!

7 Marion StreetMoustache bus3

 

Bars, bars, bars…

Okay guys, here it is finally. My round-up of the new bars in the city recently.

Slim Daveys

A neighbourhood saloon which is a mix of wild west, nana’s lounge and a kitschy American diner. They do light bites with a range of drinks including house sangria and some wines I haven’t seen too often before. Brought to you by the Ortega Fish Shack folks (right next door in fact!), with Davey the award-winning maitre’d the face of it. Relaxing and fun, with deceptive quality. 4pm til late Tuesday to Saturday, no bookings. Read more.

Slims header inside

The Top Garden (Hop Garden) rooftop bar

Another rooftop bar, above the restaurant area of the Hop Garden. Sheltered from three sides, and with a long western aspect, its in a prime spot for sun (you might need your scarf and beannie with it at the mo though!). The food and drinks are the same as the downstairs bar, with the ability to hire the rooftop for your own function. And no drama to just pop up there for a coffee or brunch, you don’t have to be beering or wineing. Open the same hours as the Hop Garden – Monday/Tuesday 3pm til late, Wednesday/Thursday/Friday 11am til late, Saturday/Sunday 10.30am til late. Read more.

TopG 3

Orpheus Kitchen

Although marketed as a New Orleans-style restaurant, one of the features here is ordering by iPad from your table (both food and drinks), including the ability to access 5,000+ cocktails. If mucking around with filters isn’t your thing (first ingredient, second ingredient etc), they have some pre-set categories (some with fairly outrageous names, so be warned!), and a few beers and wines. I had a pleasant nibble and exceedingly delicious dessert platter here recently, while knocking off a couple of those cocktails. Only 4,998 to go! Orpheus Kitchen is in Allen Street in the old Muse on Allen premises, Wednesday to Sunday 5pm til late, and you can make bookings. Read more.

Orpheus ipad

Five and Dime

A new venture by Elie Assaf of Five Boroughs fame in the old Phoenician Falafel premises up Cuba Street (Phoenician is dad). A combination wine/spirits/tapas bar with some very smart food, so not your standard diner by a long shot. Although they do brunch, that feels more lunch/late afternoon fare (with the exception of the pancakes with fried egg and bacon ice-cream – odd-sounding but very smart), with the weekday lunches simpler Lebanese/Turkish sandwiches and bowls. Again some less-common drinks across the whole range and only 6 beers here, so NOT a craft beer bar (yay!). I’d come here over many other places just on the food alone. Not 100% sure of their hours yet as they’re still settling in,  but currently weekdays from lunch onward, and weekends from late morning onward.  Read more.

F&D fried bread bacon icecr

Noble Rot

A pure wine-bar back in the city, since Arbitrageur and Vivo both disappeared. With a master sommelier at the helm, and over 350 interesting wines from places as far flung as Tenerife, and both 100 and 150ml pours, you’ll be able to try lots. They also have a coravin wine system which allows extraction of wine through the cork via a slim needle, replacing what’s taken with heavy argon gas to prevent oxidation, so they can offer normally bottle-only wines by the glass. The food is by by the Salty Pidgin folks, and is designed appropriately to go with quaffing (plates, some raw, build-your-own platters). Busy as a busy thing at night (ergo fairly noisy), but you can at least make bookings. Seven nights (from 5pm Monday/Tuesday), from lunch Wednesdays to Fridays (noon) and from brunch on weekends (9am). My pick – go in the daytime for a peaceful experience (but then again I am getting old!). Read more.

Noble main header

Eva Bevas

Doing a mix of everything (sports, quiz nights, small plates, cheap steaks), this is in th told Hope Brothers site at the entry to the Eva Street/Leeds laneway and makes me think a little of Bethel Woods (from the bits I’ve seen, haven’t had a full experience yet). Brought to you by the Hospo Gurus who have the Ivy, Bad Grannies, and various Courtenay bars. 11am til late. Read more on Stuff.

Fat Angel

A music/rave venue immediately upstairs from Eva Bevas, definitely aimed at the youngsters with the hottest local and international DJ’s strutting their stuff. From 5pm Fridays and Saturdays. Read more on Stuff.

Fat angel teaser

There you have it, we’re clearly a thirsty city!

 

WOAP 2016…

I’m not usually this quiet for this long huh?

I’ve been salivating over the Wellington on a Plate (WOAP) programme for 2016, trying to shortlist what I most want to try.

And trotting round all the new bars in the city (a post on those next week for you).

So to WOAP, here are my observations:

Ram shop burger

The Ramen Shop noodle burger, 2015

More interesting burgers this year, with quite a few new players to the game. Some of the ingredients that popped out at me:

  • yorkshire pudding bun (Furnace, Trentham)
  • Creole spiced meat and crispy grits (Coco at the Roxy)
  • house-made cashew bun (Apache)
  • lasagne toppers as buns (Scopa)
  • monkey gland sauce (Butcher and Brewer, Petone)
  • ghost chilli cheese (Hideaway)
  • kangaroo in a wattle bun (The Larder)
  • foraged seaweed (The Ramen Shop)
  • grilled lambs liver (WBC)
  • turkey breasts as buns in a turducken (Five Boroughs)
  • eel (Kelburn Pub)
  • soft shell crab (Coene’s Provisions, The Olde Bailey, the Crusty Crab food truck)
  • pork belly with octopus (Zibibbo)
  • beetroot in EVERYTHING!
Concrete cocktail

My favourite cocktail last year – Concrete (bacon and maple)

More cocktail players, with a variety of entree/main/dessert tapas:

  • 10th Year Delight – rum, lemon, eggs and sauerkraut with the remains of a rueben on the side (Hawthorn)
  • Shogun – Japanese whisky, plum brandy, sake and mirin (phew!) with local sashimi (WBC)
  • the Elitist Martini V2.0 – citrus martini with liquid nitrogen-charged champagne popsicle (St Johns Bar)
  • BGR – salted caramel rum with orange juice, spices, red wine and cardamon spice foam, with a dessert burger of macarons, Wellington Chocolate Factory patty and aged cheddar (CGR Merchant)
  • A Regional Tale – bourbon with dessert wine and chocolate bitters, limoncello, thyme liquer and champers, accompanied by bone marrow fudge, oxtail and almonds (Matterhorn)
  • you need to like grapefruit (beware those on some types of medications!)
  • a whole section of mocktails, some just tame versions of the above, some totally separate concoctions.
Portlander WOAP licorice

Portlander’s liquorice cheesecake, 2015

Changes to the DINE menus so that restaurants can offer a festival dish on its own at lunch-time (i.e. don’t need to have 2 or 3 courses, and will be able to dine quicker), with many offering different lunch and dinner options:

  • the theme this year is ‘element of surprise’
  • again, many new players to the game
  • some super-cheap options – $15 dish and beverage at The Kanteen (NZ Post House) and Southern Cross
  • a good few unique Gelissimo gelato flavours at various restaurants – American pale ale gelato (Backbencher), blue cheese gelato with a pork main (Glasshouse Rydges Thorndon), rose petal (One 80 Copthorne Oriental)
  • and a good bit of craft beer flavouring – Panhead Blacktop Oat Stout cheesecake (Backbencher), Garage Project Aro Noir stout gravy (Bethel Woods), Tuatara Dubbel-braised beef short rib, and Panhead Canhead Hardtail Henry Oaked Stout ice cream (Little Beer Quarter) and more
  • also a bit of vegan – seitan ‘steak’ (Bin 44), jackfruit with beans, kumara and pickled snap peas (Little Beer Quarter), walnut and mushroom meatballs with beetroot noodles and coconut bacon (Southern Cross), tamarillo tarte tatin with feta panna cotta, onion marmalade, rosemary and chocolate dirt (Glasshouse, Rydges Thorndon) and more
  • and the most unusual menu in entirety – free range crispy pigs ears wth black garlic and mushrooms three ways, free range pork brawn dumplings, and Wellington Chocolate Factory cacao and pig’s blood mousse with sweet pickled walnuts, praline and pear (Wellesley) – crikey!

I’m sure that’s enough to well whet your appetites. Bring it on!

 

The Seashore Cabaret, Petone

The Maranui folks have done it again. This time in the Rowing Club on the Petone waterfront.

Like Maranui, the downstairs remains the club while the upstairs is now a funky diner. You can feel the Maranui vibe throughout, from the art and signage, to the writing on the stairs, the jazzy ceiling, the menu design and the old collectables (including 4 pinball machines, and a delightful set of scales that start at 12 stone!).

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They also have a coffee roasting section where local roasters Good Fortune Coffee recently became the first roaster in the country to receive a living wage accreditation, and plan to extend the living wage accreditation to all cafe staff over time.

To highlight the amount of coffee sold to support fair wages for the growers, there’s a prominent counter showing the number of cups sold since they opened only a couple of months ago. Look at those those numbers – we clearly love our coffee!

Petone coffee1Petone coffee2

The food is diner and seashore classic, with a little Mexican thrown in. Items such as surf’n’turf, cheeseburger, fish tacos, vegetable quesadilla, a truckers breakfast or dinner, a range of hot dogs and more.

Between four of us enjoyed a hot smoked salmon pide with capers, mascarpone and chives; crunchy fish tacos with slaw and jalapeño sauce; the cheeseburger with handcut fries; the vege quesadilla; key lime pie; and a lazy berry sundae. Everything hit the mark nicely as we’d expect from this team, other than the prosciutto, gorgonzola, caramelised onion and mozzarella pide we’d started with, which was a bit heavy and greasy. All other dishes, however, had a lightness that left one well satisfied but not overloaded.

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Being persons of mature persuasions, the sundae artfully dripping over the side made us think of milkbars and the Fonz, and the use of frozen berries on top was noted as a clever texture and flavour move.

You’ll find separate breakfast, lunch, dinner, weekend and kids menus, an interesting range of sodas and shakes, and a fair selection of wine, beer and other tipples.

The views over the harbour are pretty darned fine, the environment is warm and welcoming, and you won’t need to consult with the bank manager to enjoy an outing here.

Daytimes Monday-Thursday, day and night Friday to Sunday.

160 The Esplanade, Petone.

Coco and the Roxy turn five

Happy birthday to Coco and the Roxy in Miramar! Five years on and just getting better and better.

Coco header.jpg

Check out my recent visit and thoughts from the key players there. I particularly like their playfulness and community spirit.

They’ve also got quite a lot going on for WOAP with Creole flavouring, a crack at defending their 2015 Capital Cocktail win, and a couple of events as well. And one of the country’s best and most innovative cocktail makers.

Definitely worth a jaunt out to Miramar.

 

 

 

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