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…

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 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 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).


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.







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.




#wellyonaplate best of the rest 2016

A few others that stood out in addition to the ones I published last week.

Being places you shouldn’t forget for general food and drink experiences:

  • Apache – all of their food is fresh, light and flavourful (this their Bang to Death chicken burger with kumara bim bim)

Apache bang bang cix2

  • Bangalore Polo Club – always a great place for a drink with dramatic decor and peanut floor polishing (this their Churchill Toast cocktail – very good flavours, and visually appealing)

Bangalore Churchills Toast

  • Capitol – again always fresh, tasty and often with a wee twist, especially brunches (this their Cavolo nero and ricotta ravioli with burnt butter and sage – best crispy sage I think I’ve ever had)

Capitol ravioli

  • Charley Noble – even if a bit noisy at times for dining, their bar is a delicious stop with excellent service (this their mocktail with ginger and vinegar – surprisingly very moorish. Vinegar just might be an ingredient we see more of)

CN mocktail.jpg

  • Portlander – don’t be fooled by the steak theme, the small plates and desserts out of kitchen are often very memorable (this their ox cheek donut with beetroot and jerk salsa, and their chilli basil panacotta with tomato vanilla syrup)

Portlander ox cheek donut

Portlander basil chili panacotta.jpg


  • Sterling – new kid on the Terrace from the Egmont Street Eatery folks, with the same high standards and a wood-fired oven (excellent pork belly, and wood-fired roast pear tart with coconut sorbet)

Sterling wood roast pear coconut

  • 1815 at Wellesley – sometimes sliding under the radar, but turning out interesting fare (this the crispy pig ears with mushrooms three ways)

Wellesley cripsy pigs ears.jpg

As I’ve said before, we’re pretty darned lucky in Wellington with the quality and profusion of eating and drinking opportunities.

Thanks Welly on a Plate for bringing more of them to the fore.


#wellyonaplate 2016 first stand-outs

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’s Elk with celeriac, smoked onion puree and greens – tender, lovely textures and colours, executed exceptionally well.

Larder elk

  • Glasshouse’s Pork shoulder apple crumble with custard and blue cheese gelato – the best element of surprise to date (mains looking like desserts and vice versa), with excellent flavours and textures. Followed by the equally good peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Glasshouse pork custard

  • Egmont Street’s Sunset blue, baked feijoa and house gingerbread – simple but very effective flavours and textures.

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.


  • 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.





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