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…

Machete – Guatemalan coffee and tacos

As mentioned in a recent Word on the Street post, Paul and Cesar have brought some Guatemala home to Wellington.

machete-guat-people

They are both very passionate about their relationship with Guatemala (Cesar’s heritage), and the word ‘earthy’ comes up a lot in conversation. Many people there only have the basics, so they’re masters as using whatever’s to hand to spice up their lives, including the spices in the food.

At Machete, you enjoy single origin Supreme coffees roasted for the gentler siphon or V60 brewing methods, or you can still get a standard espresso if you fancy. Paul is very knowledgeable about coffee and happy to share information.

There’s also a range of coffee accessories and some interesting teas available for purchase if you fancy.

On the food front, the breakfast menu is small but tasty (check out the bircher parfait with cherries below; and the kiwifruit, ricotta and honey on Leeds Street toast), while the lunch menu mostly focuses on the tacos.

What makes these tacos Guatemalan is the use of chilli (judiciously), and simple un-adorned ingredients. You can choose one, two or three, which gives the option of trying all fillings, or mixing and matching to suit your personal preferences (including one vegetarian).

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I had two and found them both to be fresh, light, and well balanced in flavour and texture, and interestingly, a good match with the coffee. And if you fancy afters, there’s a very Kiwi hokey pokey biscuit, or scones and one or two other house-baked goodies.

Machete make all of their food and fillings in-house, with only the taco shells coming from other specialists, so you truly are getting hand-crafted and quality food.

Monday to Friday 7.30am-3.30pm, Saturdays 9am-4pm.

9 Boulcott Street.

 

PappaRich

PappaRich has opened in Grey Street opposite the Intercontinental.

It’s pretty much the Malaysian Macca’s, albiet with a little more class. So wouldn’t normally be on my radar, but for the roti’s and hainan bread – both are excellent. The hainan is gorgeous steamed with butter and sugar, and choose any roti – you won’t go wrong.

pappa-decor

The chain started in Kuala Lumpar, and is now in Australia, Brunei, China, South Korea, Singapore, USA and little ol’ NZ (Auckland first in 2015).

It’s pretty much self-service – you write your own orders from a large glossy menu and then hit a green button on the table for collection – but the menu is very colourful and and easy to read.

The down-side to all of this was evidenced a little later when the food came in random sequences, with one meal nearly finished before the rest arrived, and the coconut jam roti (which was excellent) arriving later again.

Unbeknown to me it takes longer to craft, so either the kitchen don’t plan for these things, or its custom to just receive each item as it’s ready (which you don’t know because there isn’t an order-taker to tell you!) or you should mark your order in some way to indicate sequence (yep, you get the picture).

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The rest of the food was fresh and pleasant (fairly mild), and there look to be some interesting desserts for another adventure.

PappaRich is not licenced, but there’s a large selection of non-alcs from Cham (mixed coffee and tea served cold with ice) to fresh juices, a couple of hot offerings, and the many mugs of milky concoctions.

The almond grass jelly drink was a bit odd-sounding (right up my alley then!), but was actually rather fun and tasty – turns out those big straws are just the ticket for slurping up cubes of jelly.

pappa-jelly-almond-drink

Seven days from 11am.

3B/1 Grey Street

La Cloche Central

La Cloche have opened on the corner of Featherston and Ballance Streets in the CBD. The mother-ship and main kitchen remains at Kaiwharawhara, but we don’t have to trek that far to experience their fare now (yay!).

You’ll find an array of delicious pastries, cakes and baguettes etc, as well as a small blackboard menu of traditional French items like French onion soup, Quiche Lorraine, Croque Monsieur etc.

I’ve only popped by for a quick pre-corporate bite so far, but have already begun a love affair with their French gougère ‘scones’, and can see my recent top ten on the Word on the Street becoming a top 15 to fit them all in.

Essentially a large cheese puff, the gougère are very moorish – crunchy on the outside and almost impossible to describe on the inside (you’ll just have to have one to see what I mean). And there are filled ones for lunch too, so I  predict a long affair.

Their decor is a little Mojo-like, a mix of industrial and contemporary, and I particularly loved the big old rail clock keeping us on schedule.

Their coffee is a specialty blend from the Flight boys and was well made, but I’ve mis-filed the pic so can’t show you (totally distracted by that gougère!).

Weekdays 7am to 4pm.

97 Featherston Street.

Don’t under-estimate the Glasshouse

The Glasshouse restaurant at Rydges in Hawkstone Street (formerly the Portland Towers hotel) first came to my attention during this year’s Wellington on a Plate.

Their element of surprise was one of the most innovative around and was extremely well executed – mains presented as desserts and vice versa (pork belly with crumble custard and gelato; peanut butter and jelly toastie for dessert). And so I ended up going back and chatting to Chef Andy and Marketer Rebecca about what’s going on.

Quite a lot as it happens.

The Glasshouse has done a little re-decorating, is upping the food ante, and is starting to emerge from its cocoon.

Andy started at the Glasshouse as an apprentice some 14 years ago, and has been around a number of other Wellington establishments before circling back.

Given they’re a home-away-from-home for many of their guests, many dishes have a familiarity to them, but are done with a focus on local, seasonal and artisan ingredients (On-Trays, GelissimoZany Zeus, among others). And I liked the introduction at the front of the menu telling some of the provider stories.

They’re also very focused on giving a friendly welcome, and relaxed but professional service. And I can say over two recent lunch visits, both boxes were ticked.

The things that stood out my visits were:

  • The baguette around the hot chicken schnitzel was excellent, with a satisfying crunchy exterior (not hard or explosive) and soft interior
  • The schnitzel was tender, with a pleasing balance of flavours across the shaved ham, Buffalo mozzarella and their house-made napoli sauce
  • The chicken caesar’s flavour and texture balance was likewise very good, and loaded with chicken (I didn’t need to eat for hours afterwards!)
  • The perfect texture of the egg yolk on the caesar
  • The presentation was excellent each time
  • I felt very relaxed by the end of each visit
  • And most impressively, on ordering the caesar, the immediate response was to ask whether I had any gluten issues. Very smart.

While understated, the Glasshouse is a very pleasant, light and airy place to have lunch away from the corporate rat-race. There was an interesting mix of conference-goers, locals, corporate folks and even a retired group of gentleman having their weekly lunch on my last visit (and looking like they were thoroughly enjoying it!), so its not pretentious, and welcoming to all.

Stand-by for bean bags, bbq’s and more in their sunny, sheltered bar courtyard this summer. And possibly even some Sunday family feast type events too.

Stay tuned….

24 Hawkstone Street.

Dillingers

Dillingers have opened at Midland Park where Soho Brown used to be.

This is a venture by the Green Man folks, with Kristan Mulcahy (formerly of Grill Meats Beer) at the helm food-wise, a bunch of friendly welcoming staff, and an appealing fit-out.

The decor is a little throw-back American glam, a little speakeasy, and a little wild west. The bar and brasserie opens onto Midland Park so gets afternoon sun, and will have built-in entertainment whenever there’s something going on. However, you could still tuck yourself away down the back if you wanted a bit more peace.

The menu ranges from easy finger food like smoked cheese and jalapeno croquettes, screaming eagle sliders (bbq beef cheek), and rueben sandwiches, through to ceviche with tortilla chips; baby carrot and haloumi salad; southern fried spiced chicken with smokey mash and slaw (they have two smokers out the back); and pork hock.

With Kristan’s hand in the background, many dishes have contemporary ingredients and presentation that lift them above the norm – the pork hock comes with carrot puree, kale, chilli pork praline, and sweet and sour sauce; the salmon is beetroot cured and comes with pickled fennel, horseradish, orange, capers and crostini; and the beef bavette comes with bourbon bbq beef cheek, roast shallots and smoked potato pompoms.


The crispy chicken was indeed crispy, but still succulent, and the accompanying spicy mayo an excellent contrast. The pork belly and calamari salad with mint and ginger dressing was like an Asian-flavoured caesar, with bursts of flavour and tender calamari, and the parmesan sticks with spinach dip a hearty starter or great nibble with a glass of wine.

We enjoyed a couple of interesting beers – the Choice Bros ‘Afraid of Americans’ IPA and ‘On the Brain PBRA’ (peanut butter and raspberry) – and vowed to come back for both brunch and dessert soon (not necessarily in that order!).

I think Dillingers will do well at Midland, and have opened with the ambience, food and service good to go.

dillingers-photobooth

Check out a few more pics from the opening.

7 days morning, noon and night.

Midland Park

 

 

 

 

 

Gotta Go to Mr Go

An Asian hawker-style street food establishment has gone into the old Pizza King premises on Taranaki Street (near Courtenay). And its good.

Fresh, light and flavourful food, with nothing over $15 (the owners set the place up on a shoestring and are passing the savings on), Mr Go’s has a focus on community and melding together of influences – check out the history of Mr Go on their website.

We over-ordered to start given we didn’t expect significant quantity, and never made it to dessert. The food came pretty much all together, so we were able to sample all at once.

The most memorable items were the pulled pork bao bun; the housemade pineapple mint sparkling water; lightly coated popcorn chicken with an excellent Thai basil mayo; and the kung pao cauliflower (bring your spicy palate).

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There’s also cold beer on tap and by the bottle, a couple of ciders, a bunch of wines, various sodas and cocktails (many with asian flavours), and bottomless Supreme filter coffee. And the service was friendly and welcoming.

I’m so back there soon for another go (more moderately paced so I can fit dessert this time!).

Monday to Saturday 11am til late.

59 Taranaki Street.

 

 

Tokeyo

Tokeyo is the new venture by the Wellington Hospitality Group (Munchen, Coene’s, Bethel Woods, and many other suburban bars), in the former Vivo premises. And should definitely be on your must-try list (assuming you like Japanese food).

Developed under the hand of Vincent Lombino of Hideaway fame, Tokeyo hits all the right notes in terms of decor, mood, authentic Japanese food (albiet with a little dab of Korean here and there courtesy of Chef Kim’s background), and excellent service.

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A couple in my group have lived in Japan, and were able to explain some of the finer points like the Okonomiyaki being the Osaka style where ingredients are mixed first before cooking, as opposed to the Hiroshima style where they build layer by layer.

The freshness and execution was excellent, with the pork gyoza being a lovely mix of al dente-ness and porky softness, the grilled eggplant sauce so good I licked the plate clean, and the rainbow rolls so tender and flavourful that I nearly didn’t share.

Tokeyo desserts are sake, whisky or dessert cocktails, so we finished with a lightly warming pear-flavoured Gekkeikan sake while contemplating what to try next time.

And then checked out the beauty and precision of the sushi master at work behind the bar, including some pretty nifty blowtorch skills!

They have a DJ later on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings; do lunches on Fridays; have an excellent big group dining table; and are available for hire on Sundays and Mondays. Too easy.

From 4pm Tuesday to Saturday, and from noon Fridays.

19 Edward Street

 

Delicious Deluxe

I’ve been away for a few weeks, and now ready to rock the last quarter of the year (how on earth did we get to October so fast?).

Given Deluxe Cafe on Kent Terrace is one of my favourite cafes, it wasn’t a surprise that my feet took me there on my first morning back.

I really enjoy their funky atmosphere, fresh and tasty vegan and vegetarian food (and a little for carnivores), excellent service, and ever-changing art – currently Stu Morris. And their great coffee, with a friend telling me they’re one of the few places who can make it properly hot for him.

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Given I was doing a sconealicious post for Word on the Street, I made a beeline for Deluxe’s three cheese and buttermilk – crispy exteriored and tenderly cheesy inside, as worthy as their orange and date.

I thought I’d better take a wee treat home for the chip fiend too since he was back at work without the extra day’s grace, so snaffled one of the appealing-looking hazelnut, spelt and orange cookies. Dense and flavourful, it also went west pretty fast.

They do lots of salads, wraps, quiches, soups, sweets and slices (very similar in style to Midnight Espresso in Cuba Street, and Maranui Cafe at Lyall Bay – long ago connections), but don’t have a kitchen, so cabinet items only.

Deluxe is a Wellington must-do. And when you do, take home one of their delicious shortcake slices for dessert as well, mmmmm.

7 days, daytimes from 7am weekdays, 8am weekends.

10 Kent Terrace

 

 

Shepherd & Al’s Best Ugly Bagels

Shepherd

Shepherd has opened in Leeds Street next to Pomodoro Pizza, brought to us by Shepherd Elliott (Ti KoukaLeeds Street Bakery) and Sean Golding (Golding’s free dive bar).

shepherd-entry

Sean and Shep wanted to maintain the laneway vibe and create a place that provided all styles – a wine, a bite, a meal, an interesting beer, a shared catchup with friends, or just dessert and coffee. A place to come together.

The space is actually the original canteen of the Hannahs Shoe Factory (and a large party-central student flat between times!), so the perfect setting. And has are a number of different areas and seating styles, including some at the kitchen counter so you can see exactly how its all done (no secrets here).

The food is light, tasty and extremely well executed, with the cheapest item at $4 (oyster), and the most expensive $28 (you will need a couple of courses though).They are also being playful by combining ingredients and mixing courses in ways you might not expect (a custard entree? pikelets with house made cheese, salted tamarillo and roasted hazelnuts? pulled pork with apple, fennel and red curry mustard?).

The drinks reflect recent travel, with some interesting big (alcohol, size and price) Californian craft beers on the list. Alongside a whole bunch of ‘sour and interesting’ and some Garage Project, Yeastie Boys (the Rex Attitude Peat-Smoked Strong Golden Ale was really memorable), 8 Wired, Panhead and ParrotDog, etc.

From 5.30pm Wednesday to Sunday, with some bookings taken (via phone for the moment, but watch out for a website and online booking system soon).

Al’s Best Ugly Bagels

Best Ugly is fast food at its best – Montreal bagels (lighter then their New York cousins), hand rolled, poached, wood-fired, and delivered to you with a range of traditional and kiwi toppings in open sandwich style. So no jaw-cracking chewing here (yay!). The likes of peanut butter and jam, rueben (below), Stewart Island salmon, marmite,  Zany Zeus cream cheese etc.

It’s a pretty slick process a’la’Starbucks where you order, then move along to the delivery counter and listen for your name, then see if you can wangle a stool at the wall or window. Be prepared to take-away as there isn’t much seating, but what there is, does turn over reasonably quickly.

Check out the daily bagel and drinks boards too, interesting stuff.

7 days, 7am to 3pm. Swan Lane behind Floraditas (also newly earthquake-strengthened and with some new eye-catching dishes alongside the time-honoured favourites). Full laneway updates here.

bagels-rueben

 

 

 

 

 

The Jardin Grill

The new five-star Sofitel hotel is under way on Bolton Street.

Jardin decor 6

There’s a botanical theme throughout given their nearness to the Botanic Gardens, including the two eating spaces – the Green Room bar, and the Jardin Grill restaurant (Jardin being French for garden/botanical).

The Green Room is very pleasant with lush furnishings and different spaces for quiet catchups, anytime tapas, or a celebration. They’re planning on stocking non-alcoholic champers shortly too, so you don’t miss out on a bubbly flute if not drinking – nice!

The staff are multi-national as you’d expect, and very professional and courteous. The bar lad certainly didn’t blink an eye when I asked him to create a mocktail that wasn’t sharp, sweet or too fruity, with a spot-on result.

They also have a $7.50 coffee and pastry, or coffee and scone deal daily from 7am; an easy and convenient place for that overdue coffee catchup.

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The Jardin Grill has been decorated to mix a little ‘market’ with ‘stylish’ comfort.

The ‘market’ is achieved with wooden signs above the open kitchen counter, a meat and cheese pantry you can get up close and personal with, baskets of fruit and preserves around, and a wood-fired rotisserie stoked by the staff (luckily it was only a mocktail I’d had first or I might have been breaking into a rendition of Bill and Boyd’s ‘put another log on the fire, babe…..’, and you know what comes next!).

The ‘stylish’ is achieved with a mix of garden and earthy tones and patterns (make sure you look up), an inviting curved wine rack at the entry, a mix of plush and contemporary seating, attention to detail on the tables, and a delightful outside patio for fine days.

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Jardín describe their food as contemporary with a strong bias towards NZ meats, cheeses and local seasonal products. Their tomato juice comes from a local grower, for example. Their pricing is hotel level ($18-$25 for tapas/entrees, $36-$43 for mains, and $15-$18 for desserts), with the menu set to expand further over the next couple of months towards their formal launch.

The current dinner menu has some interesting ingredients and dishes – tonka bean ice cream, beetroot and feta gratin, and blueberry and gin sorbet to name just a few, and the tapas likewise – mushroom cappuccino, wood-roasted merino spare ribs, and rocket/bacon arancini.

Dinner ended up being the the multi-fish parcel special wrapped in serrano and served on mussel risotto, and the honey roasted poisson on bacon and herb risotto. The poisson was fun to watch roasting, and again I was able to get up close and personal to see it. Dessert was a bitter chocolate tart, and brandy snap ice cream trio.

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All dishes were pleasant with subtle flavours (the strongest notes being the risottos), including the bitter chocolate tart which turned out to be neither bitter nor sweet (pleasingly so as it happens). The staff need a little more time to gel and settle, and get to grips with the Wellington hospitality scene, however the bones of a nice experience are in place.

Jardin’s breakfast menu also operates a little differently to other hotels. You still pay a set fee, but can choose between just the continental, or the full, with an  a’la’carte hot dish of your choosing (rather than a hot buffet). Or you could just pop by and have an a’la’carte dish. A nice mix of options, and again a very pleasant place for a breakfast catchup.

We watch with interest to see how Jardin develops.

17 Bolton Street.

 

 

 

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