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 “French / Italian”

The greatest of the latest

I’ve been a little distracted by selling a property with a short move-out date, but I’m back now with a summary of the recent openings I think are worthy for different reasons…

Lola Stays

Lola has a very appealing new decor (the old Vista on Oriental Parade), and is a sunny, very pleasant place to wile away time over a leisurely brunch or scone (excellent cheese scones!).

If you lived around Oriental it’d also be a very easy place to pop in for a wine and nibble on the way to or fro.

Full write up here.

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7 days 7am til late.

Lulu Bar

This is a bar and eatery inspired by Hawaii, with Pacific twists throughout – from the tropical plants under grow lights, to a very smart poke dish, and rum flights.

Also check out the large mural in the bar out back, very cool (and yes the former Ancestral warm concrete seats still exist).

Full write up here.

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7 days from noon for the bar, 7 days from 4.30pm for Oceanic eats (full restaurant side).

NOTE – Boom burger right next door is also theirs (shared kitchen), so if you fancy your burger sitting down with a beer, order and enjoy it inside Lulu.

Bellamys by Logan Brown

This is iconic dining – you’re getting the Logan Brown expertise from service to plate, in one of the most iconic NZ buildings, while rubbing shoulders with the power players (two of my three visits I spied MP’s at other tables).

At very reasonable prices too I might add.

Full write up here.

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Tuesday to Friday, lunch noon to 2pm and dinner 5.30pm to 8.30pm. Via Parliament’s main security / tour desk entry. NOTE – Bookings required 24 hours prior so they can provide numbers and names to the security desk.

1154 Pastaria

The latest venture from the Bresolin lads directly opposite Scopa, focusing on simple, traditional pasta dishes done well.

Upstairs the team make all the pasta by hand, downstairs they pass it through cooking, saucing and plating in a streamlined flow, so that it almost could be labelled pasta fast food.

Beware you need to order at the counter, and seating is a matter of luck in arriving when there’s a space at a table somewhere.

Full write up here.

1154 Tortelloni

7 days 11am til late.

Sugar Flour

Pastry and art combined. This is something everyone should make an effort to get to at Kilbirnie.

Young Maxine (seriously, I think she started patisserie straight out of nappies) slaves all week to make gorgeous works of art that sell from 10am to 3pm Friday (or until sold out prior), and Saturday and Sunday 9am to 4pm (or until sold out prior).

Full write up here.

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Hours above. Get in early.

Phew!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monte Cervino

If you didn’t catch my Monte Cervino post over at Word on the Street, here’s the link.

Monte Cervino is the new iteration of Matterhorn in Tory Street (the old Lonestar building), and differs from Matterhorn by being a bit more casual and Italian-inspired (the Italian ‘face’ of the Matterhorn!).

MonteC bar

The food is still the quality you’d expect of Sean Marshall, albiet a little simpler, and the service still has the Matterhorn vibe – a whole lot of groove, a little bit laid back, and a couple of handlebar moustaches to round it out – so there’s a whole lot that feels familiar.

The environment is light and bright, and its an easy place to pop by for a drink and bite, full meal, or even just dessert in the bar if you so fancied.

MonteC motto

I’m eyeing up the zucchini, lemon, pine nut and assiago pizzetta (naturally leavened sour dough base) on my next visit, along with Nonna’s fritole. And another of the very interesting cocktails. This one ‘The Alps’ with pine cordial….

MonteC Alps

Open 7 days lunch and dinner.

66 Tory Street

Tinakori Bistro rises again

If you like The Ramen Shop at Newtown, or Hillside Kitchen at Thorndon, you’ll totally enjoy the Tinakori Bistro’s newest incarnation by the same team.

The restaurant is now a French Bistro, with very French dishes, but all presented with a light hand and local ingredients.

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Asher (Boote, owner) has a particular penchant for suburban eateries that become a hub of the community, that celebrate local produce, and that suits the style of the locals. And he hasn’t missed the mark here; there was a constant stream of locals and visitors coming through during the Saturday evening (yes I eavesdropped here and there to get a sense of the localness!), and at least 30 people turned away.

If you don’t fancy a full meal, or its between lunch and dinner, you can just enjoy a glass of wine and charcuterie platter. And because Cult Wine is part of their stable, there’s a really interesting list of ‘bin end’ bottles, as well as each varietal by the glass.

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I really liked having a good old fried egg on top of the asparagus (none of this 60 degree trickery!), that the Bistro salad had little dressing but didn’t need it do to the flavour and integrity of the ingredients, and that the gnocchi was made from choux batter (a first for me).

The chip fiend particularly enjoyed the steak and dripping fries (surprise, surprise!), and the creme brulee dessert was the best I think I’ve ever had (read more about that in my Word on the Street post).

These guys will do well here, but it does pay to book.

Lunch Friday to Sunday, drinks and snacks Friday to Sunday between lunch and dinner, and dinner Wednesday to Sunday.

328 Tinakori Road

 

La Petite French grocery

If you’re needing a French treat, pop into the new La Petite France ‘grocery’ on Blair Street.

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Olivier (properietor) and Tom (a local chef) present all manner of French cheeses, salamis, wines, cider, crusty baguettes, snails, oils, condiments, chocolates, and much more.

95% of their product is of the French persuasion, with the other 5% a wider European style. They also support local businesses by getting their cheese and salami’s from Le March Francais, and baguettes from the Shelley Bay Baker.

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You’ll find brands like Guérande, AL’Olivier, Connétable, Favols, Rougié, Mathez, and Goulibeur. And Olivier and Tom are more than happy to help if the fantastic choices feel a little overwhelming.

I will definitely be back here soon for more treats.

La Petite Olivier & Tom

Tuesday to Sunday daytimes.

4 Blair Street

Bastardo and Two Grey

I’ve quite enjoyed two new eateries in the city lately, for totally different reasons.

UPDATE: Bastardo has now gone for a slightly more refined Italian plates-style, with more focus on modern/contemporary and less on olde-world New York-Italian. The white tablecloths and formal dress of the staff have gone, but the dessert trolley remains!

Bastardo has oodles of olde-worlde charm and classy comfort food, while Two Grey is more of a modern brasserie for catching up with friends over a drink and tasty bites.

Bastardo decor MAIN

Bastardo on Tory Street (the old Pan de Muerto) is brought to us by the Cicio Cacio team from Newtown (also Franziska at Seatoun). And will do well. You can read my thoughts in detail here, and do make room for the groovy dessert trolley when you go.

 

Two Grey MAIN

Two Grey is the new Arizona on the corner of Featherston and Grey Streets. Still the same team out back, but with a focus on local, fresh, seasonal, and modern. The service has been a little patchy to date, but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt at the moment being newbies. Again, more detail here, and don’t miss the roasted cauliflower.

 

New vegan eats and a slightly swished up Hippo

There’s another wave of new vegan eats around the city (check out my latest Word on the Street post for detail), but I mostly want to talk about Hippopotamus at the QT Museum Hotel here.

Having been there over the years, I realised I’ve never written about them on this blog. And felt compelled to rectify!

Hippo high tea

 

To me Hippo is the last ‘fine dining’ restaurant left in Wellington. Where you’d dress up and have a classy evening out, with fine french food, fine wines, and respectful proper service. And although sold to QT late last year, that hasn’t changed.

The decor throughout has had a wee swish up to create a slightly more contemporary sophistication, rather than the previous traditional formality, but it’s been done with a light touch so the character of the place has not been compromised. So at Hippo, there is new branding in the tableware, fewer white table cloths, sleek black polished tables, and a hint more casual styling in the staff uniforms, etc.

You’ll still have a fine time, but with a notch less stiffness.

I’ve enjoyed a pre-Christmas team lunch at Hippo, a Guy Fawkes dinner with that wonderful display over the harbour, high tea, a lovely anniversary dinner and many other cocktail and tea visits over time.

And recently, I went along to enjoy Laurent’s new vegan menu. A totally separate menu with choices for most courses (although I suspect there’s a little swearing in the kitchen at times for this Frenchman used to his cream and butter!).

The dishes we enjoyed were:

  • Tofu sashimi with wakame salad and ginger syrup
  • Roast baby vegetables with ‘soil, rain and snow’
  • Mushroom risotto with vegan cheese
  • Coconut and mango panna cotta, with bruleed fresh pineapple, kaffir lime gel, toasted coconut crumble, mango gel, freeze-dried pineapple, mango passionfruit glass (yep it look and broke just like glass!), and finally, guava sorbet. OMG. And only $18 for all that.

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This menu will evolve over time, but was delicious, beautifully presented, and had some clever layering and flavour/texture combinations.

The one thing I haven’t done yet, and been told is really worthwhile, is breakfast at Hippo. As well as buffet food, they have an a’la’carte breakfast menu with light dishes at $15 and substantial ones at $25. That’s not much more than a bunch of cafes around town, who won’t give you that same elegance and finesse. Checking that out very soon!

QT are also converting their foyer carpark into a ‘Hot Sauce’ Korean/Japanese tapas bar and lounge (the same as QT Melbourne has) for a mid-year opening, so stay tuned folks. More good things to come.

90 Cable Street, CBD

 

 

 

Italian wine at Petone

Michele Marai started Cangrande Italian Wine importation and distribution around five years ago, and has recently set himself up for retail – both online and a wee flagship store in Petone named Il Doge (pronounced eel doe-jay, in honour of the Duke of Venice).

This has been in response to people continually asking to buy the Italian wines they’ve experienced at restaurants around the city and region.

Il Doge decor 2

The two points of different at Il Doge are the quality of the wines (his father back in Italy samples 300-400 per year and selects the top 40 for further sub-selection – that’s really taking one for the team huh!), and each being displayed with a label of its provenance, tasting profile, and most importantly, what food it goes with.

Turns out food and wine matching is a big deal for Michele (the Italian heritage), with many Italian wines drier and more rustic on their own than our Kiwi palates are used to, but wonderfully rounded with the right food. Aaaaha!

So on Fridays from 5.30 – 7pm Michele opens a wine of the week for sampling with tasty hors d’oeuvres (which I completely forgot to ask the source of, I was so entranced with the whole concept), to demonstrate just that.

We enjoyed the Isonzo del Friuli Northern Italian Chardonnay so much we subsequently took a bottle to dinner with us, and discovered it went well with Vietnamese food.

The biggest seller is the Valpolicella Ripasso from Valrona (the hinterland near Venice that Michele hails from), which ‘speaks to you about village life’ and is a gentler big red for those who aren’t into big reds. I loved Michele’s passion and eloquence when talking about his wines, totally infectious.

I ended up buying a bottle of the Amarone Campagnola (also from Verona), traditionally paired with horse meat (errr venison or rich stew), and with a slightly different production process – grapes dried indoors, macerated and oaked for three years – resulting in a chocolatey, jammy, dark minerally drop. Yet to be enjoyed, but the anticipation is great.

As well as an interesting selection of wines, you’ll find authentic Italian craft beers (the Vienna lager had a caramelly smoothness and was quite the moreish drop), balsamics, spirits and liquers – a bottle of the Amaretto very nearly jumped into my bag as well. Next time.

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So pop along on a Friday evening to taste and learn, grab a bottle for your next BYO dinner (or what the hell, just to enjoy at home!), and watch out for Italian food and wine matching events at a restaurant near you.

281 Jackson Street, Petone

Medifoods, Newtown

I recently stumbled into Medifoods at Newtown (the Mediterranean Food Warehouse) and was surprised to find it a rather appealing trattoria now, with the deli section tucked down the back. Apparently this happened a good six months or so ago.

medifoods-decor

The menu covered such delights as Carpaccio Bresaola D.O.P (cured top round of beef, rocket, lemon marinated tomato, Granny Smith Parmigiano Reggiano), Proscuitto Di Parma (with butter and sage asparagus, fried egg and grana padano shavings), and a range of brushette, pastas, risottos, mains and desserts.

With a decent selection of wines alongside. And a cabinetful of food or gelato for quick dashes or afters. Goodness!

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Since it was kinda still lunchtime I decided to try their $10 weekly lunch special, which turned out to penne pasta with truffle cream and rocket. I found it to be al dente, generous in size and satisfying.

I also spied a pizza going out from the wood-fired oven and nearly drooled. I am so going back real soon (for the ricotta, rocket and toasted walnut gnocchi; and the asparagus, peas and smoked salmon risotto; and the pear and chocolate cake with raspberry and merlot sorbet; you get my drift….).

And that was before checking out the deli products. If only I had the car….

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Medifoods make all their pizzas, pastas, toppings, breads, etc in-house and pride themselves on fresh, authentic and seasonal.

They also have an interesting brunch menu with options like homemade carrot and banana bread with almond and vanilla mascarpone and preserved Spanish peaches; or poached eggs on sourdough with fried halloumi cheese, grilled tomato and mashed avocado.

I’m clearly going to have to walk this way often!

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The staff were all very friendly and helpful, and there’s pleasure every which way you look at Medifoods. It would be very easy to wile away a couple of hours if time permitted.

And if that isn’t enough, check this out….. A little a’la’Pickle Jar.

medifoods-pizza-metre-mondays

Trattoria – Monday to Saturday 8am to 10.30pm; Sunday 9am to 10.30pm.

Deli – Monday to Saturday 8am to 8pm; Sunday 9am to 8pm.

42 Constable Street, Newtown.

 

 

 

 

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.

Mirabelle in Carterton

Another on my keep-missing-it list was Cafe Mirabelle at Carterton. I’d never managed to go past when it was open, but finally, success! Twice in fact, go figure.

Mirabelle is run by French husband and wife team Megan (the magic in the kitchen) and Olivier (the FOH maestro) Rochery. The food philosophy is simple, hearty and unpretentious, like dining at home in France. And what would French dining be without wine, beer and liqueurs? You’ll never need to find out here.

One visit was for a light brekkie, so I made a beeline for the pastries. They all looked delightful and beautifully hand-made, and in fact the apple danish I settled on might be the best one I’ve ever had. The pastry was light and crispy, the apple generous and beautifully layered, and both the custard beneath and glaze on top just the right hint of sweetness without overkill. I’m still revelling in the memory.

Mirabelle apple danish

The other visit was lunch so I decided on the macaroni cheese with bacon from the menu board. It was a close run thing with the goat cheese salad, but since it was a slightly cool day, and I was interested to see how Mirabelle would deliver the dish, the mac cheese won. And yes it did arrive French style, topped with cheese, pepper (noticeable), a dose of melted butter, bread for dipping, and bubbly hot grilled top.

A delicious and unctuous dish (love that word!). All for $12.50. Excellent value.

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A place not to be missed if you can time it right.

Wednesday to Sunday daytimes (9-4 weekdays, 10-3 weekends), dinner Friday and Saturday nights (bookings recommended).

31 High North Street, Carterton

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