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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 “Bars / Craft drinks”

A beer tour at Whistling Sisters

Whistling Sisters is the new micro-brewery associated with The Fermentery eatery on the corner of Taranaki and Ghuznee Streets.

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Bede and Ange Roe, along with Russell and Elwyn Scott (of The Featherston, Avida and Leuven, to name a few) have significant beer and hospitality experience behind them, so have hit the ground running.

The brewery specialises in crafting balanced beers (as opposed to the big hoppy stuff), and currently have six varietals available. If you fancy the full inside gen, book yourself a tour at 4pm on a Saturday which includes a talk by Bede about the beer process, a wander through the brewery and a beer flight matched to tasty food from the kitchen downstairs. Great fun for $39.

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Their brewery kit was designed and made in Nelson which allowed them to add extra features to give more control over their brewing process, like the malt grind and how/when they add their special ingredients (the fresh ginger and galangal to the Rooty Toot Toot).

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They also don’t pasteurise or filter their beers, preferring instead to allow all flavours to come through untouched. And like to promote the idea of beer as great for food matching, again without the big hoppiness overpowering whatever you’re eating.

All of the beers we tasted were light, clean and very drinkable, with my favourite turning out to be the Rooty Toot Toot ginger sour beer. And I’m not a beer drinker!

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These were the matches we enjoyed, all equally good:

  • A red pilsner with Kraut cheese balls (the eatery is after all a Fermentery)
  • The golden ale with garlic hummus and crisp pita shards
  • The chocolate oatmeal stout with smashed cod and soft pita bread (unexpected but I guess when you think about oyster stouts, seafood and stout have some history)
  • The Rooty Toot Toot ginger sour with pork terrine.

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In terms of the Fermentery side of the business, their philosophy is also to craft their own, and, create dishes that match nicely with the beers.

I have popped along recently for brunch and thoroughly enjoyed their kumara pancake with bacon (although it was a bit early for beersies that day!), and the chip fiend (yep you guessed it) ordered the burger and chips, which he proclaimed satisfying as well.

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I also really like purpose of Whistling Sisters too – the premature death of Karen Louisa from secondary breast cancer (one of Russell and Elwyn’s daughters) inspiring the family to create a research trust, with the profits of Whistling Sisters and the Fermentery supporting that.

So the ‘Sisters’ signifying the closeness of Russell’s two daughters and the ‘Whistling’ signifying the attempt to keep on whistling and looking on the bright side when life gets you down (the Life of Bryan anyone?).

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A great outlook and I wish them well.

Cnr Taranaki and Ghuznee Streets

 

The new Black Dog

I recently popped along to the new Black Dog Brewery up Cuba Street to see how it compared to the previous iteration in Blair Street.

Quite favourably I have to say (as a non-beery girl).

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Downstairs is the micro-brewery with lots of shiny tanks, and staff happy to talk to you all day long about their brews, and guide you through tastings.

And upstairs is a lounge bar with some very groovy art, where you can relax and try something new.

The brewery’s stated aim is to ‘create interesting alternatives to the range of beers already available. Some will work and some won’t but if we don’t try we’ll never know. Our mission is to always be interesting and intrepid, always act independently and stay in tune with what the drinkers want’.

In line with that, despite them being part of the DB family, Bar Manager Mat tells me the Cuba Street microbrewery is seen as the innovation hub for the brand where they create to their heart’s content and don’t have to worry about production runs or marketing. When they strike one that ticks all the boxes it then gets passed off to the mothership to deal with from there.

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So, as well as the core beers (like Chomp – their first ever brew – or The Dogfather), you’ll get new ones each season (like the Pug Life an extra pale ale, or Hop Boxer a fresh hop IPA). In fact, when we visited right in the middle of Hopstock, the Hop Boxer had been so popular they were eeking it out in tasting size glasses only until they could whip some more up!

One of the things the staff are very keen on is helping you try something new, starting with what type of flavours in general or densities you like and they’ll whip out various things that might be of interest (for example the Saisson has banana notes, who’d’ve known). If you go away saying you’ve had a great experience and tried something new, they’ll consider their job well done.

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They’re also keen on collaboration with other local businesses, including coffee and chocolate magic with Havana and WCF respectively, food from the Wellington Seamarket next door or Pandoro (beer and barley bread, and pizza bases), and I believe there are other collaborations with the likes of Grill Meats Beer coming soon.

You’ll also find exhibitions by different artists throughout the brewery and bar, acting like an informal Cuba Street Art Gallery (now that’s my kinda gallery!).

Tuesday to Sunday, noon until the wee smalls.

216 Cuba Street

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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