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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 “Cafes / Brunch”

The Botanist at Lyall Bay

Having given them a month or so to settle in (that’s my excuse anyway!), I finally trucked out to the new Botanist at Lyall Bay for lunch.

Brought to us by the folks of Beach Babylon, Little Beer Quarter, and Basque, the point of difference here is that everything is vegetarian or vegan.

Botanist decor

The atmosphere is inviting – an old villa with views out to the south coast, a north facing garden / deck area and lots of light and plants indoors – and the staff were welcoming and friendly.

We tried out the pea, smoked brinza and zucchini fritters with pickled cucumber raita (with optional poached eggs), and the crumbed halloumi burger with herbed fries.

With the winner being the fritters (and my apologies, I just realised the pic is nearly all eggs!) with a pleasing texture and tangy raita offset. The burger was pleasant but nothing exciting and we struggled a bit to get herbiness off the fries, although they were nicely cooked. We probably should have tried one of the other burgers – marinated tempeh, or black bean, corn and pecan patty – to really sample something outside the norm.

The drinks cover all bases, with a range of local and NZ craft beers and ciders, all wines by the glass and bottle (virtually all NZ), and a bunch of appealing-sounding cocktails (Garden of Babylon with pea pods, Basil Crush, Flowerbed Martini, and Lavender Cosmo with lavender leaves). Unfortunately I was driving so kept to the non-alcoholic, which included the usual coffees, HardieBoys, Humble honey soda, Salty Dog apple and lime soda, smoothies, T Leaf organic teas etc. Next time.

I did chuckle at the drink menu saying ‘sorry we don’t serve marshmallows as they contain animal gelatin’, as we sat under a [wooden] deer head eating our vegetarian lunch!

Botanist deer

On the way out I saw the dinner menu (they’ve just started this week), and thought it contained more interesting dishes, so might head back for an evening soon.

Beware the place is apparently heaving at weekends (and was pretty full today at a Tuesday lunchtime) with a lot of flat surfaces, so fairly noisy. But bookings can be made online, so you should be able to pick your moment.

A pleasant addition to the South Coast.

219 Onepu Road, Lyall Bay

Get thee to Sixes and Sevens

The name Sixes and Sevens for the wee cafe on Taranaki Street behind Burger Fuel is an inside joke given Rob’s never been at sixes and sevens in his life.

six-seven-exterior

He started out as a fine dining patissier in Auckland, dabbled in catering, and then moved into the cafe and deli space, discovering you can choose what to bake every day. Eureka!

So Rob bakes what he’d like to eat himself, using local, fresh and seasonal ingredients. His like of order is evident in the presentation of the cabinets, the food itself and the calm excellence of the staff.

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The salad I enjoyed was a blend of several, with natural goodness (over-saucing is a pet hate), and presented very nicely for eat-in. At $10 for a satisfying lunch, how could you go wrong?

I then enjoyed a spinach and spring onion scone, which had a crispy exterior and soft flavourful interior. They were four different scones that day, so plenty of choice.

And I kicked myself all afternoon for not slipping the single remaining pear brioche into my bag for dessert too, as it looked so appealing. Next time if I’m lucky!

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Sixes and Sevens first came to my attention through Wellington on a Plate last year, when they were part of the pop-up donut store at Moore Wilsons.

And they do great donuts. There were both lemon cheesecake, and the classic cream buns still going in the early afternoon when I was there. So this is the place to come if you have a donut itch (check out their donut Saturday event this coming Saturday 11 Feb).

There was also a bunch of teas and cold drinks, Havana coffee, and apparently, damn good smoothies. With every flavour under the sun, and every superfood shot or protein supplement you could imagine, I suspect they just might live up to that claim (who knew there was such a thing as Amazonia raw immune supplement??).

If you keep an eye on their Facebook page, you’ll see what’s up each day, and can plan accordingly.

Monday to Friday, 7am-4pm (3pm closure on Fridays).

51 Taranaki Street

 

Beach House & Kiosk

The old Bach at Owhiro Bay has been taken over by the folks who created Elements.

bh-exterior

The physical layout of the Beach House & Kiosk feels pretty much the same to me, but now has a more seaside vibe, jazzed up the tables and railing out front (with the rail also doubling as bar-style seating), and I suspect a fairly significant investment into the kitchen.

Like Elements (and then later the Eat Street food truck), Scott and Zoe are focusing on fresh, seasonal, local and sustainable ingredients.

With a group of eight, I got to check out a range of breakfasts, all which met with approval:

  • crepes with seasonal fruit, lemon curd, coconut ice cream, maple syrup and candied walnuts (pretty and sweetly delicious)
  • a breakfast burger or two of Andouille sausage, streaky bacon, kasundi, fried egg, caramelised onion, rocket and halloumi (and if that wasn’t enough you could add duck fat potatoes for another $4!)
  • smoked kipper potato cakes with poached eggs, furikake and hollandaise (heavier on potatoes than kippers apparently, but tasty)
  • free-range soft scrambled eggs with free-range thick cut streaky bacon on sourdough (both boys who had this were voluble about the fantastic flavoured and textured fat in the streaky bacon)
  • baked spinach and tomato with smoked brinza, dukkah crusted egg and rocket (I’m so having that next time)
  • and a soft shell crab burger with wasabi mayo, lime cucumber, rocket, chilli jam and fries. Holy meeeoly.

And for me, washed down with a Salty Dog apple and lime soda. When at the seaside…

Other house sodas that caught my eye were the vanilla rhubarb and white cola. As well as the Storm and India organic premium coconut chai and almond macaroon teas, and the Whittaker’s iced chocolate. Beach House are also licensed with a simple range of wines and beers, but most of us didn’t get that far.

They’re currently doing daytimes, 7 days per week, but have recently advertised for additional staff so they can throw in a few nights as well.

410 The Esplanade, Island Bay

PS. The Kiosk is around the side doing frozen yoghurt, takeaway coffees etc on weekends and public holidays when its crazy inside and you just want a quickie (so to speak!).

 

 

 

Beanbags and courtyards

I’m hoping I haven’t jinxed summer by writing a post about the best beanbag and courtyard spots in the city!

karaka-beanbags

But it had to be done, as there are some very groovy spots, with many tucked away and not immediately obvious.

Feel free to share your favourites in the comments below, as there’s still plenty of summer left for us all to go exploring.

Time to relax and enjoy…

 

 

 

La Cloche Central

La Cloche have opened on the corner of Featherston and Ballance Streets in the CBD. The mother-ship and main kitchen remains at Kaiwharawhara, but we don’t have to trek that far to experience their fare now (yay!).

You’ll find an array of delicious pastries, cakes and baguettes etc, as well as a small blackboard menu of traditional French items like French onion soup, Quiche Lorraine, Croque Monsieur etc.

I’ve only popped by for a quick pre-corporate bite so far, but have already begun a love affair with their French gougère ‘scones’, and can see my recent top ten on the Word on the Street becoming a top 15 to fit them all in.

Essentially a large cheese puff, the gougère are very moorish – crunchy on the outside and almost impossible to describe on the inside (you’ll just have to have one to see what I mean). And there are filled ones for lunch too, so I  predict a long affair.

Their decor is a little Mojo-like, a mix of industrial and contemporary, and I particularly loved the big old rail clock keeping us on schedule.

Their coffee is a specialty blend from the Flight boys and was well made, but I’ve mis-filed the pic so can’t show you (totally distracted by that gougère!).

Weekdays 7am to 4pm.

97 Featherston 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

 

 

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.

 

Blue Belle at Island Bay

I went on a long walk around the city yesterday and found myself at the Blue Belle Cafe in Island Bay.

Online reviews talk a lot about their pies, and they do have a few, but their cabinet fare looked appealing too, as well as there being a menu of typical breakfasts, Mexican dishes, burgers and fries.

Blule Belle busker

The decor is funky, there are tables out the front for sunny days (or on this particular occasion, to be sung to!), and the service was friendly.

To cover all bases (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it), I decided on something savoury  and something sweet. Since the pies are talked about I chose a vegetable korma. The pastry was indeed light and flaky, and the filling pleasingly korma-ish, however I didn’t find any chunks of vegetables as I’d expected. Maybe they were pureed into the sauce given it had a reasonably thick texture.

The custard square was the standout of the two, again with flaky pastry (someone knows what they’re doing with pastry), a slightly lemon custard filling that was soft but not a squirter, and a sweet passionfruit icing. Overall a sweet number, with a good balance of flavours and textures.

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I’m keen to come back and try the generously filled paninis, and the tasty-looking salads, or maybe even the pulled pork ciabatta with cajun kumara fries. So another place on the ‘repeat’ list. If only there were more than 24 hours in the day….

Daytimes 7 days.

148 The Parade, Island Bay.

 

 

The Clareville Bakery, a must do

To begin our carbo loading for a Sunday half marathon vines walk, we decided on the Clareville Bakery for Saturday breakfast (followed by a Poppies lunch and a Medici dinner of course!).

These guys have won a number of awards in recent years (2014 pie of the year with their lamb and kumara pie, joint 2015 rural cafe of the year, and 2015 overall VWOAP Mindfood Producer winner for their lavash-style crackers), and just keep on creating.

10am was a bit early for pie, so I made a beeline for the hot cross doughnut (seasonally appropriate and delish), while others had a banana custard donut (delightful but very squirty) and chicken walnut blue cheese turkish (also rated highly).

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Rosie and Michael and their team are super hot on fresh, hand made and artisan methods, and make all their own pastries, breads (own natural sourdough starter), jams, jellies, sauces, the aforementioned lavash-style crackers, and more (check out their gallery pics here). As well as cabinet and counter food, you’ll find a range of brunch and lunch menu options Monday through Saturday daytimes.

On Wednesday evenings they do dinner and live music, and they also cater events (do these guys ever sleep??). There’s a range of nooks and crannies both inside among the simple white and timber decor (check out the building history on the wall), or out in the garden if a nice day.

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I’ve found some of their goodies on the counter at Poquito in the CBD recently, and shall keep my eyes out for where else they might supply, but if you’re in the Wairarapa Monday to Saturday daytimes, you should definitely head straight to the source.

3340 SH2 Claireville.

 

 

 

Nifty Neo

I’ve been working up the parliament end of town for a chunk of time now, but am finally off the hook and recently (coupla weeks ago now!) had the chance to stop into Neo rather than just notice it always looks busy when dashing past.

I arrived at 1145am-ish and was easily able to get a seat, but noted that by 1230pm there were queues for tables. The cabinet has a few fresh and tasty looking sandwiches and bowls of salad if you’re just after an in and out.

I chose the avocado, tomato and Zany Zeus chili feta on sourdough from the breakfast menu, which was light, fresh and well presented. The avocado wasn’t too ripe or firm, the tomatoes ditto, and the chili feta the right amount to enhance without overpowering. I could even taste the sour notes from the bread beneath, so well executed all round.

The drinks range from the $4 bottomless filter coffee, to Six Barrel sodas, and a range of interesting Ritual Tea Company teas (I’m eyeing up the ‘Shot in the Arm’ for next time).

It’s easy to forget these little local cafes that chug on day after week after year, but in fact some of them are real little gems. I intend to cruise back in for a weekend breakfast soon.

They also offer catering and function services, and venue hire, and I think would be a great place to order a cake for that next work shout…

Keep up the good work guys.

132 Willis Street

Neo decor

 

 

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