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 “Coffee / Cocktails”

Ti Kouka

Its been years since I’ve talked about Ti Kouka in a dedicated way, so figure an update is due. Because they are that good.

TK smoked fish potato

They’ve matured into a consistently high standard daytime cafe, serving delicious well-executed food with interesting components.

TK muesli

Something as simple as muesli is still out of the ordinary – coconut muesli with puffed amaranth, hazelnuts, plum and Ti Kouka yoghurt (the hazelnuts both in the muesli and separately as a crumb) – and the smoked sardines and potato with sour cream, preserved tomato, poached egg and bacon vin got two thumbs up. I’m pleased to report that there was enough fruit and yoghurt to go with the muesli and not a mountain of muesli beneath (a pet hate).

Ti Kouka pork

Shep (co-owner and Executive Chef) has long been a proponent of the Longbush black pork and you will find it used throughout the menu – pulled pork sandwich, as bacon, and on this recent platter in several guises. Others around town are now cottoning onto the quality of Longbush as well.

And both Jesse and Alice work the coffee machine like the pro’s they are, turning out faultless Red Rabbit coffees (a joint venture next to their Leeds Street bakery).

Red Rabbit coffee cookie

TK do degustations from time to time (the most recent an art focused one where you got to take home the featured artist’s work as part of the dinner), and are conscious consumers supporting Kaibosh food rescue, as well as composting and recycling wherever possible.

If you’re just after coffee, I’d recommend you make room for one of their famed salted caramel cookies, a fresh baked muffin (which is kind of a work of art by itself) or a slice of their macadamia cheesecake if there’s any going (I’d nearly walk over hot coals for that).

TK decor

The cafe is always busy and buzzing, so pick your moment, or be prepared to hang out at the tables in the counter area until a spot opens up. And yes, they are licensed if you fancy a glass of wine with that delish cheesecake. And yes, the art changes regularly, so you have something different to contemplate each time you visit.

Monday to Saturday daytimes, from 7.30am weekdays and 9.30am Saturdays.

76 Willis Street (upstairs).

TK tables

Long live Logan Brown

LB dessert
Logan Brown have made a few changes in recent months to ensure there’s something for everyone.

It’s still a quality delicious experience, whether you’re doing a full evening of dining, a pre-show graze, dessert and cocktail, or specialty Jazz brunch.

Full detail here.

The Hangar, not just coffee…

I finally got to the Hangar (Flight Coffee HQ) for brunch, after recently being prompted again about their new and extended kitchen menu.

Worthy, yes. Delicious, yes. Fun, yes.

Hangar coffee

The booths have given way to more tables to accommodate the chowers, and the menu has a large range of brunch/lunch items, some reasonably standard, and some a bit more intriguing (Elvis banana bread with berry compote, bacon and peanut butter mousse – definitely on my to-do-next list;  black garlic mac’n’cheese with roasted cauliflower; silverbeet chips baked in garlic infused olive oil and sea salt).

Hangar sign

There was also a fairly impressive build-your-own breakfast list with about 20 options, and a new section of crumpets (goat cheese and walnut with honey and thyme being the order of today).

These guys have the fun and entertainment factor in spades – from the welcome sign (yep it does say ‘lock eyes, open arms and nod suggestively’ for a cuddle), to watching fantastical coffee productions, to the cool of the staff, and right on down to the coffee and table condiments being on wooden trays with set holes for each component (not left-hand drinker friendly though!).  And we know the holes are the exact size for each item as the mischief maker at the table of course had to have a go at moving them all around (hah, snookered smartypants!).

Hangar crumpets

I’ve called by here for coffee and a delicious cheese scone on another occasion too, and enjoyed the peacefulness while out watching the city wake up.

I don’t think you could go wrong on any front calling in here for a graze if you find yourself in this part of town.

Wednesday to Saturdays evenings also, with a liquor licence from 5pm (cocktails and craft beers recommended).

Corner of Dixon and Willis Streets.

Poneke, week one…

The new marriage between Mojo and Martin Bosley at the bottom of the new Clyde Quay apartments (the old overseas terminal down by Chaffers) is up and running.

Poneke decor

Poneke has the usual Mojo look and feel (and cabinet food), but with the addition of a Martin Bosley kitchen to produce swizzier menu dishes, and steampunk filter coffee (like being back in the school lab!).

The dishes cover small ($12 – $17) and large plates ($22-$24 excluding the whole flounder at $27), a few pizzas ($16-$18), oysters ($4.50 each) and a couple of desserts ($memory blank).

There are a number of items which allude to kiwiana – 12hr beef cheek as the mince on toast, fish finger sandwich and buttermilk fried onion rings, and asparagus, poached egg, salmon caviar with green herb hollandaise (being as close as you’ll get to an eggs benny) – and every dish has interesting combinations and ingredients.

Poneke small plate

There’s quite a range of seafood on the menu as you’d expect from Martin and the location (including a delish sounding smoked kahawai, olive, caper and potato pizza), but there’s also enough to satisfy the vegos or carnivores among us (roasted grapes and feta on grilled sourdough or slow-cooked lamb shoulder, garlic, oregano, lemon and skordalia which looked pretty saliva-inducing as it went to the next table to share).

The quality of the food and presentation is superb, as is the efficiency and friendliness of the staff, however I’m not yet convinced on the price points (especially for the small plates).  The anchovies and tomatoes on toast (above) for $17 was a fair stretch, and the fish finger sandwich was in fact just a burger (albeit a tasty one) with one crumbed oblong finger at $22.  I expected at least sandwich style slices of interesting bread given it was marketed as a sandwich, with possibly even two or three smaller fish fingers for quirkiness and references to the kind of fish fingers we’d all remember (although that might be just the child in me!).

Poneke ff sammie

I do appreciate though, that they’re in an expensive location and prompt service and food delivery means bodies, on top of quality ingredients.

The winner on the day for me might just about have been the simple zucchini, mint, rocket and feta pizza (loved the thin rustic base), with fantastic flavours, textures, colour and piquancy (even the non-zucchini-loving teenager was impressed).

Poneke pizza

Poneke are doing 7 days from 7amish to mid evening, with the same menu running throughout, and outdoor tables for when the Wellington weather gods permit.  They are likely to change to later opening hours on the weekend with a slightly more tailored brunch menu in the near future.

Definitely worth a visit, especially if you appreciate quality food components and presentation, or fancy tender melt-in-the-mouth fish and chips beside the boats of a lovely sunny summer evening.

Clyde Quay Wharf.







The Preservatorium cafe and cannery…

Phew.  What a busy old time.  Finally a weekday morning to stroll past and check out the Preservatorium on Webb Street.

Preservatorium preservesA cute cafe with tables and chairs reminiscent of school or a community hall; lots of hand-made preserves, chutneys and jams (lovely clutters of empty jars around the place); People’s coffee (alas their small grinder was AWOL so I couldn’t imbibe a decaf on said day) and good value simple foods (cabinet and menu).

My lemon muffin was suitably light and airy and had real pieces of candied lemon on top, and complimented the Kawakawa fire tea.

Preservatorium grindsI toyed with the home-made grandfathers baked beans, but the stomach wasn’t quite up for the challenge on this occasion, and because I wasn’t going to be home any time soon I didn’t procure the take-away jar, but keen to return and give those a whirl.

The staff are welcoming, the atmosphere relaxing and unhurried (beware only open 7-3 weekdays), and I liked seeing the coffee grinds free to a good garden (not sure if my two patio pots qualify?).

Keep an eye on their Facebook page for daily specials (damn those $5 Monday beef burgers looked mighty fine….) and consider the Preservatorium for functions (a funky space for a knees up).

30 Webb Street.

Preservatorium tables1



Prefab, the post-script

Further to my previous post about Prefab, I’ve now been three times and do recommend a visit if you’re in the neighbourhood.

The only disappointment was three strike-outs on the brioche, blueberry and ricotta dish I’d spied on the menu the first time (and might have had a little salivary anticipation of).  The first time (1pm on a Saturday) there was none available, the second time (7.30am on a weekday) the brioche wasn’t ready yet, and the third time (10am on a Saturday) it was gone from the menu.

Prefab french toast

So french toast it was (and very pleasant too I might add).  As previously noted, there’s no frilly or fussy here, just simple and sincere in a friendly environment.  For $10, I expected one piece, so two (which I could hardly eat all of) was extremely good value for money.  Soft on the inside, crispy on the outside – perfectly done (in my humble opinion!).

I did have coffee this time, and enjoyed its smoothness, with him indoors noting an almost citrus tone to his long black (which pleased).

He also noted the details that make an interesting place – the funkiness of the main central ceiling fan (you’ll have to go looksee for yourself), the thick serviettes and teaspoons, and all the wait girls being very well groomed with matching red lippie. Followed by some musings about price points and cost models (as you do over breakfast!).

Do check out the bathrooms too when you visit. Nicely done, and (more importantly) a good indication of the overall standards of a place.

14 Jessie Street





Poquito espresso, cocktails and tapas

UPDATE: Now under different ownership, but still a lovely wee hideaway with tasty bites and drinks.

In the former premises of Schoc chocolate on lower Tory Street, is a new espresso, cocktail and Spanish tapas bar – Poquito (meaning a little bit).

Open some pretty long hours (from 7.30am weekdays and 9.30am weekends to late most nights), you’ll be able to drop by here for a tipple or a nibble whenever the urge strikes.

Poquito tapas

The tapas include items like anchovy, olive and cheese poquito bites (very tasty, but beware the desire to drink more with them!), toasted pita bread with various hummuses, devils on horse back (soft datey deliciousness, not prunes), grilled bruschetta, mixed olives with treats (not ordered so can’t reveal the treats secret), and warm bean salad with chorizo and chickpeas.

There’s a range of wines, beers and cocktails on offer, with some interesting cocktails.

Poquito cocktails

The ones that caught my eye were the Monkey Business (fig infused monkey shoulder whisky, chocolate bitters, orange slice), Rhubarb 75 (rhubarb infused wodka vodka, cava, lemon, vanilla syrup) and Beetle Juice (Hendricks gin, homemade beetroot juice, celery salt, cucumber, basil, hot sauce, worchester sauce, lemon juice).


I settled for the Monkey Business, which went well with the tapas selection.

There is also daytime snack food (still evolving as the clientele settles in), and the coffees meet the grade.

Poquito plants

This will only ever be a light snack place given the kitchen is the bench behind the bar, and it has a limited number of tables, but it’s a peaceful spot (especially down the back by the plant conservatory), and provides something different and interesting in that part of town.

11 Tory Street.

Long Beach at Waikanae

And for the lazy finish to a weekend of eating (last weekend!), a fine Sunday called for a brunch ride up the coast.

Waikanae felt about the right stopping distance, so a return visit to Long Beach was the go.

Long Beach

Long Beach is a peaceful spot at the beach with pleasant outdoor areas (next door to The Front Room), including a mini glass-house growing tomatoes and seedlings.

The brunch options that appealed were the Long Beach toasted muesli with house made mascarpone, and the strawberry brioche french toast (also with house made mascarpone).

Both were delicious, although the mascarpone was the texture of runny cream rather than the expected thicker cheese-like texture.

Long Beach french toast

The coffee was good, and the service welcoming and friendly.

The lunch and dinner menus look good too, so another place worth a side excursion to if passing Waikanae.

With a wee wander up over the dune opposite to check out the sea after, what more could you ask for a cruisy weekend brunch.

40 Tutere Street, Waikanae Beach.

Aro Cafe

Delicious as always.  Good service.  Great ambience.  Fantastic food.  Nothing more to be said really.

French toast with baked tamarillos, poached rhubarb and yoghurt……

Open seven days.





Cocktails and crumpet

Now bring your mind back, its not what you’re thinking….

In the space that was Pollux between the Opera House foyer and Opera House Lane is the Boon Brothers’ new cocktail and crumpet bar.

Delicious crumpets, coffee, beers and wines by day, and tailor-made cocktails by night (or  daytime for the truly hardy).

One of the Boon brothers being formerly of Lamason coffee connoisseurs down the nearby Lombard Street, and using Peoples coffee, means you get a pretty good cuppa here.

And for the accompanying munchies, a delicious crumpet or two.  Either standard (jam, nutella) or savoury/sweet specialty combinations like:

  • Smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill
  • Baby rocket, champagne ham and red onion relish
  • Banana, butterscotch, toasted walnuts and double cream
  • Ricotta, pear, candied pecan (and boy are those candied pecans good) and maple syrup….

In discussion with the brother Boon on duty this morning, they decided (after a few attempts themselves) to get their crumpets made by experts and found a start-up catering company to produce these gems.

Dense enough, but not too dense, firm enough to hold the toppings well, but soft enough to cut through and chew esaily, these crumpets really and truly are worth a stop by.

Of interest on the drinks list under beers was an 8 Wire imperial stout with kapiti vanilla ice cream, and the coke for Miss 14 was in fact a coke flavoured Six Barrel creaming soda creation.  Interesting.

After having just seen a Six Barrel Soda Company Limited cafe in the upstairs space opposite on Dixon that once was Bambalinas (see the Wellingtonista article I’ve just found), that can’t be coincidence. Next weekend’s exploration.

Crumpet opens 7 days from 1pm.  Delish.

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