For worthy eating and drinking experiences around Wellington, NZ (and the greater region) – you can also catch Heather out and about hosting Zest Food Tours around the city…

Archive for the category “American / Burgers”

A wee hiatus…

I am about to blast off for the northern hemisphere for four months this weekend (lucky me!), so there’ll be a wee hiatus until November.

But thought I’d leave you with a few foodiegems from the last couple of weeks….

Shed 5’s duck pithivier pie and chocolate raspberry truffle (header image)

Shed 5 duck pithivier pie.jpg

Pickle & Pie’s Blintzes, OMG to die for (please universe, I don’t mean that literally)

Pickle Pie Blintzes .jpg

Moss Caff’s real kumara fries

Moss Caff kumara fries.jpg

Brunch and Burger’s waffles at Paraparaumu Beach (yep by the 50-50 folks, both definitely worthy)

Brunch & burger waffles.jpg

Who knew Barrack was a burger boy??

Brunch & burger sign.jpg

Bellamy’s by Logan Brown’s melt-in-the-mouth seared tuna

Bellamys seared tuna.jpg

Artisan’s very beautiful and tasty high tea

Artisan high tea.jpg

And finally, gorgeous birthday cupcakes from a dear friend…

50th cupcakes.jpg

Au revoir til November.

Hugo’s Whisky Lounge

I was reasonably impressed with the style and ambience of Hugo’s Whisky Lounge created above the Establishment on Courtenay Place. With a bunch of different nooks and crannies, and a bible-ful of whisk(e)y’s you could wile away a good amount of time up here.

Hugos bible2

The food was bar snack/tapa style, and ranged from sliders to homemade pork and shrimp wontons (very good), to crumbed camembert with spicy plum sauce to meat skewers to mini seafood fritters etc. And the staff very knowledgeable and helpful.

I won’t repeat what I wrote in my Word on the Street post, but suffice it to say you should pop by for a whiskey and bite sometime on your way out or back from somewhere, and check it out.

Best entry is just around the corner on Blair Street.

From 5pm til late Tuesday to Saturday.

Hugos lounge pic 3


Leroys Dive Bar

I’ve been in and out of Leroys a couple of times, and written about them as part of the rise and rise of tacos post for Word on the Street, so here’s my summary…

Leroys decor 0

Leroys is in the old Hideaway space in the Plimmer Steps, and is brought to us by the Greenman folks (the recent Dillingers addition to Midland Park is theirs also).

Leroys has been redecorated as a dive bar style with motorcycles hanging from the ceilings, pour-your-own beer from a carburettor, a half caravan for seating (or the musos), a twinkly outdoor garden bar, and more groove than you can poke a stick at.

They’re also doing some tasty bites – predominantly tacos (delivered on cute toy trucks), firebird fried chicken (some of the moistest I’ve ever tasted courtesy of the $16,000 pressure cooker in the kitchen), and frankendogs (hot dogs in a potato rosti).

The tacos were all tasty, with their own distinct flavour profiles, and the frankendog much more interesting than a dog in a bun. Although I will grant you, messier to eat.

If you need something a little extra on the side, you can dive into K-fries (pretty much Korean spicy nacho topping on fries), or good ol slaw.

There’s a bunch of beers on tap and by the bottle if pouring your own doesn’t appeal, and a selection of wines, retro cocktails, alco-slushies and non-alcs.

And deals every night through the week – motormouth Mondays with a quarter bird and pint deal; taco truck Tuesdays 2:4:1 tacos; gigging (and probably lots of giggling too!) Fridays with live music from 7pm, etc.

Leroys decor 1

Be prepared for lots of noise on busy nights, ordering at the counter and collecting your eats from the kitchen when the vibrating ‘waiter’ tells you it’s time.

Don’t be shy, put on your dive shoes and get on down to Leroys for tasty bites and a bit of fun.

Monday to Friday from 9am to late. Saturday noon to late.

2 Plimmer Steps

Dillingers throwback glam

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.


Check out a few more pics from the opening.

7 days morning, noon and night.

Midland Park






Caroline music and burgers

The Meow folks have opened a music venue and burger bar upstairs on Manners Street. Undertheradar are calling it Wellington’s finest dive bar and music venue.

At Caroline the burgers are simple (but fresh and delicious), the beers are simple (four craft on tap and a range of others by bottle), and the fittings likewise simple. However it’s taken some clever hands and eyes to make all this simple so characterful (definite shades of Mighty Mighty). And check out the Game of Thrones pinball machine!

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The music section is a separate hall at the back segregated by curtain – the size venue that’s been missing in the Wellington music scene for a while – and will host a wide range of alternative, travelling and start-up musicians and bands. Keep an eye on their Facebook page to see what’s coming.

But even if the music’s not for you, its an easy spot to pop by for a burger and beer, with lots of glass making it feel open and light. And enough nooks and crannies that you could have a quiet conversation if you wanted.

The burgers are between $7 and $13, including a haloumi with pineapple, a happy chicken (again with the pineapple), a classic fresh ground beef with artisan cheese (yay, no pineapple!), and an ‘old school’ (yep back to the pineapple, but also a little beetroot this time). The buns are brioche, so the burgers are light, and the fillings were fresh. And yes, I’ll admit it, the pineapple does add a lovely burst of sweetness.

You can also get a green salad, coleslaw, or other sides such as salt and pepper squid rings, hot chicken nibbles or cheesy broccoli croquettes. Nothing is over $13, which is darned fine value for central city eating.

The beers on tap last Friday were Parrot Dog pilsner, Mussel Inn golden goose, Cassels and Sons IPA and Dales APA. The golden goose was suitably light and gentle for the useless drinker of the household (yours truly) and went well with the haloumi burger.

Open Tuesday through Saturday 11am to 1am.

1 Manners Street, first floor.








Burger Welly 2015 cook-off

Burger Welly logoI’m not sure I’d previously noticed a final cook-off to determine the Burger Welly winners each year after the public eating and voting is done. Apparently over 9,000 WOAP eaters voted this year, which gave the top 5 for each of the best burger and best burger/beer match competitions (the beer match using any of co-founder Garage Project’s beers, with some brewed just for the competition).

I was invited along to Le Cordon Bleu last night to see the cook-off in action, with the three judges being Chef Francis Motta of LCB, Davey McDonald from Ortega Fish Shack (on behalf of Garage Project) and Tara Nyström (who won the public competition to be the third judge).

Burger Welly judgingThe most important thing (other than who won) is that the finalists are all encouraged to continue producing their burgers for the next couple of weeks if possible, so keep an eye on all of the below venues for more opportunities.

The winners for 2015 were:

  • The Laundry for the matching competition with their Smoke Jerk Chicken Burger and Red Zeppelin beer (pink lemonade and red pilsner influences). The judges said both were excellent on their own, but enhanced each other together.
  • Egmont Street Eatery for the burger alone with their Cheese, Beets and Meat. The judges said they liked that it was a traditional burger, but done with a Kiwi smoky twist.

In no particular order, the finalists were….

Arborist Rooftop Bar and Eatery with their Ba Ba Baaa Ba Ba Bar Lamb burger. They started from the Garagista big hoppy beer and chose big meaty flavours to go with it, including pickled cucumber to cut through some of the richness. And those parmesan fries were damned fine.

BW Arborist

Charley Noble (last year’s champion burger) with their Ebisu fish burger. This one was about showcasing Japanese flavours alongside the smoky fish, inside a squid ink bun.

BW Charley Noble

Egmont Street Eatery with their Cheese, Beets and Meat beef burger. They’ve house blended three cheeses, smoked their own beetroot relish and pickled their own onions.


Grill Meats Beer with their Chook N Swine, Fire N Spice chicken and bacon burger with chilli fries. The secret ingredient being Mamia’s hot Ethiopian relish from a local Kilbirnie lass. Matched with GP’s White Mischief salted white peach soured beer (I can vouch for the beer, delicious – any leftover stock may be available at the brewery shop).


The Laundry with their Smoke Jerk Chicken burger and Red Zeppelin beer. Layered chicken fillets and smoked chicken remoulade with crunchy slaw out of a caravan kitchen. I believe there’s a little tamarillo flavour lurking around in there too.

BW Laundry

Five Boroughs’ Some Sort of (venison) Burger. The name inspired by a review in the past where one friend talked about how much her friend had liked ‘some sort of burger’ at 5B. Includes foraged wild blackberries against wild venison with truffled cheese and again, squid ink buns.

BW 5 Boroughs

Cafe Medici’s (last year’s burger beer match winner) Smokey and the Lambit burger. Using all local Wairarapa ingredients including pinot jelly and Claireville Bakery buns, the lamb burger was paired with crisp polenta fries which looked pretty darned fine.

BW Medici

Ti Kouka’s Apocalypse Now Longbush pork burger. Again big flavours designed to complement GP’s Death from Above beer, including ginger ale bacon, a dab of bbq bourbon glaze, Asian lime and coriander, Japanese chilli oil, pickles and a side of crackling.


Food truck fun

NOTE: The Firetruck is now the Flying Dutchman. Check here for a list of current trucks.

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 ….

Long live Burger Liquor

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 decor

The 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 for the comment by the beef options – ‘Beef burgers are cooked medium rare. End of Story.’

Burger Liq burger1

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 shakes

We 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.

Bethel Woods Music Bar

Named in honour of the Bethel Woods Centre for the Arts on the site of the Bethel Woodstock music festival in 1969.  Fittingly with live music on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights (BBQ and Blues on Wednesdays).  And part of the Williams Pub Group who have the Gasworks at Miramar, and Co-op at Whitby, among others (ergo the decor).  Check out the drum kit above your head on entry.

Bethel drumsBethels have two imported meat smokers tucked on the rooftop and so not surprisingly the menu is fairly carnivorous. With a bit of bread.

The lunch I had was delicious. The pulled pork with fennel slaw and pickled apple sauce sandwich was sufficiently oozing and finger-licking good. Those who had salads were pretty impressed too.

The dinner a few weeks later was a different experience with two musicians cracking through a range of slightly bluesy classics from the 60’s and 70’s and a much more swilling crowd. The sound level was pretty high (music and the swillers) so conversation consisted of a fair chunk of sign language, and you needed to be happy to bump shoulders with others or share tables (they were pretty great at making up a temporary trestle table for six of us to start with though, which was impressive).

I didn’t mind the buzz.

Bethel dinsThe beef burger got the big thumbs up, and the smoked meat from the BBQ pit (a choice of six varieties – I decided a bit of lamb shoulder was the go) with two sides was pleasant enough, if not strongly flavoured of itself (the smoky BBQ sauce added at the table soon smartened that up). The broccoli with almonds was very tasty.

The sliders that someone had earlier looked like a winner too.  Three different meats in the three sliders and decent sizes. I think they might be my next dish to try.

And being Wednesday one could order any number of BBQ chicken wings (pretty large chickens) for $1 each or BBQ ribs (also dino sized) for $2 each.  Some of the others took this up and declared themselves full for $8 (very paleo-compliant that combo!).

Bethel lunchThey have Alan Scott wine on tap, a moderate range of wines and sodas by the glass and beers on tap or on the blackboard.

Check out this Stuff article if you fancy a bit more background on their views about beer or The Terrace as a location.

So in conclusion, you’d pretty much always have a good time here I think, and enjoy some fairly pleasant gastro-pub fare (much of which is handily finger-edible), but beware the noise and crowd factor if that’s not your thing.  Lunch is a little more sedate.  And I suspect brunch might be downright peaceful.

Monday to Friday 7am to midnight.  Saturday and Sunday 10am to 10pm.

73 The Terrace (the old Wine Loft premises).

Newtown’s Monterey

Another ‘finally’ place.

Monterey is the big brother to Six Barrel Soda (born due to a lack of suitable soda syrups for the Monterey mothership).

And yes, sodas do feature here too.

Monterey table
Monterey is essentially a funky burger and soda joint with extras (craft beers, wines, American BBQ and ‘slaw boards, liquored iced sodas, ice cream soda floats, scrambled tofu and black rum bananas on the brunch menu, etc).

They bake all their own breads, make their own sauces, smoke their own meats (and non-meats), play real vinyl music (diner and country style a’la’Johnny Cash) and clip plain paper on the tables so you can draw and doodle to your heart’s content while dining.

Monterey burger

The BBQ platters or burgers are all $14, the salads all $15 and sides all $3 (how easy is that?), and the meals light and tasty.  The BBQ platter meat (yes I confess, mock duck on this occasion) was definitely smokey and the accompanying charred bread nicely charred.  The burgers were considered the best vegetarian burger ever (haloumi) and tasty beef but a bit thin on the cheese (the cheeseburger!!).

There’s interesting (and probably typical American diner) sides like corn salad, onion rings, ‘slaw and fries, and the staff are relaxed and friendly.

Monterey decor

Be prepared to be crammed in (either with new friends at communal tables or just huddled around a small table), and to have a loud and noisy experience, but that’s absolutely part of the charm and fun of Monterey.

4 Rintoul Street, Newtown.

3pm til late Monday to Thursday, 10 or 11am til late Friday to Sunday.




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