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 Tours around the city…

La Petite French grocery

If you’re needing a French treat, pop into the new La Petite France ‘grocery’ on Blair Street.

La Petite exterior.jpg

Olivier (properietor) and Tom (a local chef) present all manner of French cheeses, salamis, wines, cider, crusty baguettes, snails, oils, condiments, chocolates, and much more.

95% of their product is of the French persuasion, with the other 5% a wider European style. They also support local businesses by getting their cheese and salami’s from Le March Francais, and baguettes from the Shelley Bay Baker.

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You’ll find brands like Guérande, AL’Olivier, Connétable, Favols, Rougié, Mathez, and Goulibeur. And Olivier and Tom are more than happy to help if the fantastic choices feel a little overwhelming.

I will definitely be back here soon for more treats.

La Petite Olivier & Tom

Tuesday to Sunday daytimes.

4 Blair Street

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Raglan Roast Pizza

Raglan Roast in Holland Street snapped up chef Matteo Ughi when Osteria del Toro closed its doors, and as a result, now offer up tasty wood-fired pizzas.

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Matteo uses a northern Italian dough recipe that is proofed differently, and cooked at a much lower 350deg (usually 500deg), giving a very thin light base that stays fresh and crisp longer, working well for deliveries and takeaways too (crafty devils! – check them out on Delivereasy).

In between pizzas, he also bakes all the breads used by Raglan Roast in their counter food, or for you to take home.

The space is very Wellington – off the beaten track and suitably quirky in vibe and decor – and the service was prompt and friendly.

The house chilli and garlic oils drizzled over our smoked chicken, jalapeno, mozarella and pepper pizza gave a delightful edge. And yes, the mozzarella was suitably finger-licking stretchy and stringy.

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You can also finish off with a sweet pizza – strawberry, blueberry or banana (I’m eyeing up the blueberry for next time) – or other sweet treat made in-house.

Daytimes til 5pm Monday/Tuesday, and 9.30pm Wednesday to Sunday.

12 Holland Street

Pravda turns steakhouse at night

Pravda has always been a favourite of mine for daytime eating. The lovely high ceilings, spacious feel, excellent service, and quality food (and will remain so).

Pravda decor.jpg

However, they’ve now turned a little Jervois Steakhouse in the evenings (the same Nourish Group of restaurants), with no fewer than 13 different cuts of meat available. Carnivore heaven.

But never fear if you’re not carnivorous (or just not a red meat eater), there are still plenty of other dishes available and a full separate vegetarian menu.

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The highlights of the opening night for me were the truffle brioche-crumbed asparagus, the Pravda onion rings, the seared kingfish, the Japanese wagyu, the house Yorkshire puds, and the green spanner crab and ricotta risotto. We didn’t make it to dessert (eyes and stomach not being able to negotiate a truce), but I’m certainly eyeing up several for future visits.

You can read more details here of the first night experience, or hop along yourself to check it out.

107 Customhouse Quay

 

 

Grand Century surprise

A friend who knows the owners of Grand Century on Tory Street told me about their refresh, with a more contemporary decor (I believe there is a little more art to come for the side wall), and a new smart chef from China.

Grand Cent decor

So we toddled along this week for dinner, and I have to say, it well exceeded my expectations. We shared a range of dishes, all of which were beautifully presented, executed with a light touch (not my experience generally with Chinese restaurants), and clearly had used quality ingredients.

The crispy prawns were lightly battered, and I learnt that you can eat the whole thing, tail and all (in fact I enjoyed the tail more than the head!); the whole blue cod was tender with gentle herby notes (beware the odd bone); the rice-wrapped sesame parcels were sweet, crispy and moreish; the orange beef satisfactorily sticky and tender with touches of crispness; and the deep fried pork had a light batter and almost melted in the mouth.

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And then onto dessert. Oh my god.

Caramelised kumara beneath a tree of spun sugar, with the chunks of kumara dipped in iced water to enhance the texture just before eating (and yes this dessert is on their menu as a standard option – done with either apple or kumara).

I would never in a million years have expected this in a Chinese restaurant. And I can’t say enough about the uniqueness, finesse and execution of this dish; Judy has netted herself one smart chef indeed (and nice to have a dessert that isn’t creamy and over-rich).

Grand Cent caram kum dessert.jpg

We washed all this down with a rather nice Mt Difficulty Chardonnay, and finished off with a round of liqueurs (as you do right?).

I’ve also heard a sneaky rumour that the new chef does a mean Peking Duck for groups, but one needs to request it a few days in advance, as its not a standard offering.

I was very impressed with the step up that Grand Century have taken, and intend to take my dinner club back soon.

84 Tory Street

 

 

 

Hot Sauce

If you haven’t checked out Hot Sauce yet, its definitely time to do so.

Hot Sauce decor

I heard it somewhere described as as cross between Dragonfly and Mr Go’s and that’s about right. Although more lounge bar than restaurant (the pic above had tables cleared away for opening night, so there are more places to perch!), the food is still very good, and we found it a peaceful place to enjoy a bite and drink away from the Courtenay rat-race.

The food is Asian ‘non-fusion’, in that Chef Wylie Dean is more about keeping dishes authentic, and all are pretty much bite sized and easy to handle.

The drinks also cover a large range from sakes to champagne to pretty cocktails to Japanese beer and harder spirits. So you can’t possibly go thirsty or hungry at Hot Sauce.

Read the full blurb here.

QT Museum Hotel, 7 days from 4pm.

 

 

Sweet Vanilla Kitchen, Lower Hutt

OMG, here’s another ‘how did I not know of this place’..

After shopping for motorbike gear we needed rejuvenation and found it right here at Sweet Vanilla Kitchen in Lower Hutt (that’s the excuse for the caramel macadamia slice anyway!).

Sweet Vanilla exterior

SVK is found on a suburban corner in a quaint wee villa, and is totally deserving of its online reviews, and accolade as the 2017 winner of Hellman’s best suburban cafe crown.

The brunches were a sight to behold, as well as being very nicely executed with fresh and tasty components. The banana bread with seasonal fruits was light and very generous (nice thick slices which didn’t sog or sag under the weight of the fruit), and the dukkah and crushed avo on toast with poached egg was also nicely done (although the chip fiend noted the avo was more mashed than crushed, Mr Pedantic!).

Sweet Vanilla bana bread fruit

Sweet Vanilla avo dukkah

The cake cabinet is a sight to behold, and it took me some time to decide what delight to enjoy, and when I couldn’t, took home the rhubarb butterscotch cake for breakfast the next day as well (be rude not to right?).

Between here and Comes and Goes, I’m never going anywhere else for delicious brunches in the Petone/Lower Hutt area.

Sweet Vanilla cara macad

Daytimes from 8am, 7 days per week (and yes, you can book).

49 Pretoria Street, Lower Hutt

 

 

Pickle & Pie – a NY-style deli in Wellie

Pickle & Pie has just opened at 2 Lombard Street (the Civic Square end of Lombard Lane), with chef Tim Tracey at the helm.

Pickle Pie decor

They have a lovely large sunny space, with outside tables, and eventually, a grassy park out front. So don’t be put off by all the current fencing to get there.

Tim has always wanted a NY-style deli, and so finally has his chance. Opening from 7am to 7pm, the counter food changes throughout the day to match the kind of hunger we have on, while the menu has set breakfast and lunch timings. And there’s a whole wall of pickled goodies you can take home while you’re at it.

Pickle Pie menu

Because I was there for a late breakfast, I decided to try out the sourdough crumpets with tamarillo, blackberry, vanilla mascarpone and fennel syrup. I enjoyed the sour notes coming through the nicely balanced sweet and sour fruit compote, rounded off with the creamy mascarpone. I don’t recall much in the way of fennel syrup, but the overall mouthfeel and flavour balance was good.

Pickle pie crumpets

Had it been afternoon, I’m sure I would have made a bee-line for the beautiful New York cheesecakes on the counter, or perhaps one of their house pretzel and peanut cookies. I know I’m certainly going back for a hot chocolate or mocha at some point to try out the Pickle & Pie marshmallows that come with them!

They also do take-home meals later in the day if you fancy a treat without cooking, so they’ve got your day totally covered at Pickle & Pie.

7am – 7pm Monday to Saturday

2 Lombard Street

Pickle Pie dinners.jpg

Dinner returns to Elements

Elements cafe at Lyall Bay now have a dinner service on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, in addition to their popular daytime fare.

The Elements philosophy is to gather people around a table to share great food and wine (not tapas, you get to have your own), with the food being nourishing and hand made from fresh, seasonable and sustainably farmed ingredients. In a relaxing and convivial environment without pretention (if that’s not a real word, I bags its credit!).

Elements decor

They certainly make nearly everything in-house including breads, stocks, sauces, pasta, ice creams, etc (unless there’s a local artisan product they’d like to showcase), with the intention of creating a fond food memory with a little ‘wow’.

Actually, the word fond seems just right for Elements.

So how did we go?

The complimentary bread was warm and fresh, with whipped salted and sweet chilli butter options, the sweet chilli being a little different to the norm.

And then we proceeded to the chive, pumpkin and blue cheese gnocchi with a side of smokey bacon peas (could have eaten a bucketful of those!), and the chicken with Jamaican spices. The gnocchi was comforting with many textures and flavours, and the chicken was pleasant with a ‘wow’ shredded chicken leg rosti cake. So far, so good.

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We then cracked on to the peanut butter parfait dessert, and port with dark chocolate truffles – it’s so nice to have a light / alternate dessert option when you don’t fancy the full monty.

The dessert had nicely bruleed bananas, along with dense parfait, light banana cake and crispy peanut brittle. AND surprise chocolate peanut butter truffles. Again lots of different textures which met well when spooned up together.

Elements banana dessert

I also very much enjoyed the pear, cucumber, lemon, mint and elderflower soda mocktail one of the young ladies crafted for me. And the very virtuous feeling about the number of fruits and veg I was ticking off for the day!

On the evening we visited, the restaurant had a nice hubbub, but nothing that intruded on our own conversation. And because there are several rooms to Elements, they can cater for groups more or less in their own space.

We had a very pleasant time overall, and I think just quietly, that young Sam might come further into his own as time goes by.

144 Onepu Road, Lyall Bay

Elements mocktail

Gipsy Kitchen comes to town

For CBD lovers of Gipsy Kitchen, your prayers have been answered. The Gipsy has taken up a spot in Jessie street opposite the Il Casino apartments, operating daytimes til 3pm.

The very groovy exterior sets the tone from the get-go, continuing inside with luxurious wall panelling, funky decorations, and plenty of quirk.

Gipsy exterior

The food is the quality we know and love from Gipsy, ranging from pastries to salads, to quiches, to lunch rolls, pies and sweets. And they have their heavenly (vegan) seed bread available for takeaway too.

I haven’t had a rhubarb scone fix for a while, but alas there were none, so I settled for bread and butter pudding for breakfast instead. Soft, moist and flavourful, I was sorry when it was gone.

We didn’t have coffee on this visit, but there was a steady stream of locals popping in for theirs, so we take that as a good sign (especially with Prefab, L’affare and Moore Wilson all within a stones throw). The herbal teas we did enjoy were nicely presented and real, not teabags.

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There’s only seating for about 12, so either pick your time or be prepared to take away. And do have a wee peek in the fridge of deli products available too.

They utilise a wood fired oven, and say the may well run into evenings as summer appears.

Amen!

37 Jessie Street

 

 

 

Revelling in Rita

The Nikau folks have finally opened an evening service – at a new site in Aro Valley.

The tiny 1910 villa next door to the Taproom (the old Haya Deli) sets the scene for a relaxing dinner as if you were at a friend’s house.

Rita HERO

There’s no menu envy here, only a $65 three-course set menu of either meat or vegetarian persuasion. And a short, but well balanced, drinks list to go with it.

Rita is the name of Kelda’s grandmother, also born in 1910, so they’re using the setting as a prompt for looking back at recipes that might have been used in days gone by, making the most of whatever’s available, but delivering with a modern twist.

Rita lamb neck Drunk Nanny goat cheese

Slow-braised lamb neck chops with field peas, Nanny Goat silky goat cheese and radishes

So overall, a very comforting, convivial and relaxing experience. Delivered with the flair we’ve come to know and love from the Nikau team.

Read full details of our first Rita experience here.

89 Aro Street

 

 

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