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…

Archive for the category “Bars / Craft drinks”

Fortune Favours

It’s taken me a while to decide if Fortune Favours (the bold, the brave, the lucky etc…) ticks all my boxes after a couple of mediocre food experiences on first visits (although the ambience, decor and beers were all good). However I feel like they’ve found their groove now, and they definitely have oodles of Wellington character.

Fortune favours

Downstairs is a darker and cooler environment, while upstairs is light bright and full of brewing equipment, decks and leaners. I like that they’ve taken on an old furniture-makers building and retained the character and history of it, melding nicely into the Leeds Street laneway vibe.

I also like that one of their features is cheese and beer matching – a little different to the norm. With many cheese dishes on the menu, and a dedicated meat and cheese bar downstairs.

Having tried a few dishes, I find the share boards to be the way to go here, with the ability to choose your own meats and cheeses.

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With Shannon Thorpe (ex-Good George Brewing) partnered with the resources of the Wellington Hospitality Group (Munchen, Bethel Woods, Coene’s, Gaslight and loads of others), and local brewer Dale Cooper on board (ex-Black Dog), you won’t go thirsty here any time soon. And can probably expect some interesting brews over time.

I enjoyed a sip of all the beers on the paddle (yep worlds most useless drinker!), then settled on a dark beer, whose name totally escapes me at the moment, but was light while still having a rich flavour.

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Definitely worth a visit, and particularly fun in a group.

7 days from 11am til late.

7 Leeds 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.

 

 

Counter Culture & Photonflux

There are a couple of groovy new eateries in Upper Victoria to go with the street widening and apartment building going on up there.

Counter Cult battleship

The first is a board game cafe, Counter Culture, with over 300 games available, and tasty food to boot. In the former Crafters premises, you will find many nooks and crannies to wile away as much time as you like playing old favourites or learning new games.

The second is a Sci Fi cafe, Photonflux, with memorabilia for Africa (if you’ll pardon the pun!), and tasty ‘fluxbun’ sandwiches the feature of the menu currently (South African fried dough filled with interesting ingredients – surprisingly, not unhealthy feeling at all!).

Both are definitely worth a visit, with Counter Culture also taking part in Wellington on a Plate.

Further details on both here.

Photon art

 

Churchill

The Wellington Hospitality Group (Bethel Woods, Coene’s, Gasworks, Whitby Co-op, Munchen) has added yet another horse to its stable – Churchill bar on Lambton Quay where the Royal and various other bars have been.

Chruchill tweak1

There’s a bit of cheekiness at play in Churchill if one looks closely at the black and white ‘War is over’ mural on the wall, and like other WHG places, there are lots of different nooks and crannies depending on your mood.

We happened along on a Saturday evening pre-Hurricanes game, and the place was buzzing with hopeful anticipation, and bunches of folks getting warm food in their belly before the blast of cold to come.

The food leans British as you’d expect (bangers’n’mash, Cornish pasty with peas and gravy, Beef Wellington, fish’n’chips, Eton mess etc), but actually has a few contemporary dishes thrown in too – warm chicken, feta, quinoa and radiccio salad, or chickpea and cauliflower curry, to name just a couple.

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And to show that you can never tell with Wellingtonians, we metro dwellers ordered the fish’n’chips and bangers’n’mash, while the strapping rugby lads next to us ordered the chicken quinoa salad and grilled fish with veges, and were talking about the parmesan fries they’d made at home recently!

The food came promptly with satisfying braised pork, apple and sage sausages in my dish, and flaky fish inside the crisp batter of the chip fiend’s. The presentation was simple but appealing, and I confess to eyeing up someone else’s potted pork belly with pickled cucumber, sourdough and beer mustard on the way past.

The drinks list has the usual range of suspects, with a couple of not-so-usual leaping out – a black doris plum and ginger sour cocktail, and a Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill bubbly from France if one really wanted to push the boat out.

Churchill decor1

So next time you fancy a comforting bite and blast of conviviality, pop on down to Churchill.

132 Lambton Quay

 

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

A Wellington watering-holes tee

To celebrate Wellington’s wonderful beer spots, local company Very Well ran a Facebook promo on Wellington Live to find out what places should be included on their new Wellington tee, and what the unofficial top 10 Wellington drinking spots are.

So here’s the results:

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And the tee:

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Available online, along with a whole bunch of other Wellington tees.

Husk on Ghuznee

Apologies for the hiatus folks, a family death, a property settlement and xmas interrupted the eating and drinking with gay abandon for a few weeks. But back in business now.

Husk Bar and Eatery has opened on Ghuznee Street opposite Glover Park, down a hallway marked by a barrel on the street.

This is the brainchild of the Choice Bros craft beer brewers (who do some interesting concoctions – including a bull semen beer for the Greenman pub a year or two ago!), and the Karamu Coffee folks. To bring you a micro-brewery (some parts yet to arrive and craft brewing to get under way soon after that), a coffee roastery (Karamu is currently in an industrial part of Seatoun), and quality eats (they’ve pinched two chefs with significant Wellington experience at places like Shed 5, Pravda, Shepherd and Ancestral).

The long-term vision is to have all their own beers on tap, both the coffee and beer matching the food, and some interesting amalgamations like barrel aged coffee. Ambitious.

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So the venture has just begun, and will develop more over the next three months. But my first visit today left me pretty impressed with the effort that’s gone into it so far. From the main decor down to the cutlery containers on the tables, the quality of the food, and the service.

We sampled the Choice Bros ‘Strung out on Lasers’ raspberry and lime sour (a little sweet and sour and quite quaffable), the coffee (well-made with subtle flavours), and the Bach Brewing ‘Duskrider’ Red IPA (reasonably hoppy). I particularly liked that one could get a 150ml tasting size ($4-$5), and try several if so inclined, and that the whole venue is smoke-free.

And although it was 1pm, the breakfast menu was still offered as well as the lunch, so I enjoyed the fried Jamaican Ginger cake with vanilla mascarpone and poached rhubarb, and the chip fiend enjoyed the house crumpets with bourbon butter and Husk preserves.

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You’ll see above that the presentation was very good, and the flavours and textures were well balanced and done with a light hand (no drowning of anything here). They also bake in-house, so easy to pop by for a coffee and scone.

Definitely a place to watch with interest.

7am to late, 7 days.

62 Ghuznee Street

 

 

 

 

 

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.

dillingers-photobooth

Check out a few more pics from the opening.

7 days morning, noon and night.

Midland Park

 

 

 

 

 

The Jardin Grill

UPDATE: The Jardin Grill is currently closed due to a kitchen fire, re-opeingn mid 2017.

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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