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 “Kapiti / Horowhenua”

50-50 at Pram Beach

I have been told a couple of times to check out 50-50 at Paraparaumu Beach, and OMG, it was really excellent.

5050 decor.jpg

The decor is very austere, with three pictures on one wall, and simple brown tables in one big oblong room. But don’t be fooled.

Helen Turnbull (opened Rata restaurant in Queenstown for Josh Emett, also best emerging chef at Hummingbird in the 2014 Capital awards) crafts her dishes at a big kitchen bench at the end of the room, while long-time Wellington bar personality Eddy Kennedy runs the front of house as smoothly as a well oiled machine.

The menu has only four dishes per course to choose from, and you can go a-la-carte, or do a 6 or 9 course dinner ($75 and $95 respectively) where Helen presents from across the menu, or have a taste of everything for $120. So lots of choice in how you eat.

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Among our group of three, the stand-out dishes were all of them. But of particular memorability were the amazing flavours of the aubergine entree which the biggest vegetable-avoider of the group fell in love with (me too for that matter), the crispy pork belly with both fantastic crispness and tenderness, the super crispy but feathery roast tatties which appeared by magic with the mains, and the unusualness of the nectarine tart.

The drinks list is also small, but as you’d expect with Eddy’s background, interesting and well formed. We enjoyed The Bone Line Waipara non-typical chardonnay (was described well and double checked with us at ordering), and at $11 per glass was good value.

The beers include a Lakeman Primate pilsner, Kereru Come By Shepherd’s low alcohol ale and Duncans stout (to name half of them), and the non-alcs Kapiti chemex coffee, strawberry Sichuan fizz, apricot and tarragon iced tea, again all interesting and a little different.

5050 exterior.jpg

This is definitely a place all foodies should try, and do book as they’re getting really busy.

Wednesday to Saturday evenings (note closed as a one-off this week 21 to 24 Feb).

27 Maclean Street, Paraparaumu Beach

Salt and Wood at Waikanae

I found myself at Waikanae this week and tried out the new Salt and Wood Collective, run by the folks who have North End Brewing, Long Beach and the previously-posted Olde Bakery (so they know what they’re doing).


Salt and Wood is an American-style barbecue brew pub. They brew on site (you can see it through the glass), you can fill your flagons and taste the treasures onsite (they do a specific Salt and Wood range), as well as enjoy food (mostly) cooked in a large American smoker oven.

There’s a bunch of deals throughout the week like Mexican Mondays, $10 Burger Tuesdays, and Pork Rib Fridays. As well as live music on Saturdays from 3pm.

So, given it was brunch time I figured I’d better try the breakfast sandwich, which I imagined as a BLT-style sandwich in dense grainy bread (no idea why) and turned out to be a full on burger!


The components were clearly quality, and generous, with all meats ethically raised, and as much local as possible.

The menu ranges across spent grain granola; house smoked fish with avocado, buttermilk cream and pickles on spent grain bread; a caesar salad with pulled chicken and maple bacon; a ‘kitchen sink’ sandwich (pork, brisket and gravy); dirty fries (meat and gravy); tacos, quesadillas and much more.

Alas we didn’t make it to dessert, but I wouldn’t have minded a go at the Black Bottom Pie or Baked Cherry Cheesecake.

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I was amused by the very large knife we received with our cutlery (great for keeping the opposition away from one’s food!), enjoyed their house-made sauces (you can usually buy to take home but they’d run out this time), and was impressed by the service (relaxed but efficient).

I will most certainly be back.

7 days and nights.

11 Ngaio Road, Waikanae (right across from the town centre carpark).

Olde Beach Bakery, Waikanae

This is another of my must-do-this-summer places, as they have quite the following. It’s not quite summer, but was a sunny day, so that counts right?

Olde Beach Bakery is owned by the folks who have Long Beach and the North End Brewery at Waikanae Beach (their salt and wood barrel aged beers sound interesting). So a good bit of customer and food experience on board.

The kitchen of the bakery is open, and partly in the front window so you can see the bakers at work (you can wave to them through the window from 4am!). They like to use local and seasonal, including from their own vege garden, and hand craft right down to the milkshake syrups.

I was there at breakfast time so after much eeny-meeny-miny-moeying, I settled on a northern Brittany (French) kouign-amann – a light sourdough with sweet apple that’s created like a croissant with buttery layers, crispy on the outside, and softer on the inside. It was a revelation, and I’d most definitely have one of these again (didn’t help much with the elimination process for next time!).

Bakery Kouign-amann

They also make a range of fresh artisan breads, cheese scones that are highly sought after (verified by a local I was chatting with), miles of pastries, sweet cakes and indulgences, and some very appealing-looking filled baguettes and sandwiches.

The staff were all really friendly, informative and helpful and I’m sure as eggs, that if I lived anywhere near Waikanae, I’d be here more days than not.

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7 days

3 Ono Street, Waikanae Beach

Soprano and Marine Parade Eatery

We’re darned lucky with eating options throughout our region.

I finally got to Soprano Italian Ristorante at Paraparaumu Beach for dinner, and the Marine Parade Eatery for lunch.

Soprano windowSoprano I’d missed out on previously because it was totally booked out, so I didn’t fall into that trap twice (and it was half full by 7pm on a mid-week night).

The environment is warm and cosy with mellow music and welcoming staff (yes the picture is back-to-front as I really liked the textures and vista looking outward from my spot). 

Although several entrees appealed to me (twice cooked cheese souffle with apple; walnut and crumbled goat cheese salad; Waikanae crab and ricotta ravioli with lemon chives and butter sauce), I also was feeling the need for greens so headed to the Boccoli e Broccoli pasta with sauteed Italian sausage, roasted broccoli, pine nuts, basil pesto and arugula.

Soprano pastaAnd very good it was too. Tasty herbacious sausage from the Waikanae butchery, a generous amount of roasted broccoli and a well balanced dish overall both flavour and texture-wise. The accompanying Mount Riley Chardonnay was luscious and complimented the pasta well (lightly oaked with a palate of citrus and stone fruit).

The owner popped by all tables to say hi, which was a nice touch, and given there were several desserts I couldn’t fit, I’ll most definitely be back (entree and dessert next time methinks).

The Marine Parade Eatery is more of your funky daytime (and some evenings) cafe and deli.  But also with good food, ambience and service.

Marine Eatery decorI liked the whole loaded shelves of goodies, rustic tables, fresh flowers, and light bright airiness despite the miserable day outside.  The menu here leans towards plates, large and small, and tapas in the evenings (as well as other events like the shared Sunday Roast on the last Sunday of each month – keep an eye on their FB page).

I wasn’t after substantial, so chose the risotto small plate, which turned out to be mushroom and parmesan, with an accompanying winter warmer lemon, honey and fresh thyme drink.  The risotto was pleasingly al dente, with a subtle green taste alongside the mushroom.  And the drink had real thyme and was mellower but nicer for that. Both impressive.

Marine Eatery risottoMost of the offerings had interesting components (jerk marinated chicken with a zesty bulghar wheat, sweet corn, capsicum and toasted seed salad; sardines and grilled tallegio on toasted ciabatta with fresh tomato and herb salsa; lemon, honey and cayenne pepper hot drink; peppermint hot chocolate), and all looked very appealing. They also do $10 daily stuffed bagel specials, and the cake cabinet looked rather delicious as well.  I’m definitely coming back sometime with a good hunger on!

Marine Eatery deliYou will find Soprano in the Copperfields Complex at the Beach doing Monday-Saturday evenings.

And Marine Parade Eatery at 50 Marine Parade, currently doing Wednesday-Thursdays 7.30am – 2.30pm, and Fridays-Sundays 7.30am – 9pm (keep an eye on the hours adjusting seasonally).

There’s no two ways about it, Paraparaumu Beach is a wonderful spot for a mini-escape.

Paekakariki’s Perching Parrot

So you can tell its summer and I’m getting a little more riding in (motorised, yes).

Perch Parrot decorMy last sojourn out of the city took me to Paekakariki’s Perching Parrot cafe, Paekakariki meaning perching place of the kakariki – green parrot (bet you didn’t know that huh?, me neither prior to Friday).

So the Perching Parrot is a funky indoor/outdoor cafe in the main street of Paekakariki, doing lots of vegan and vegetarian dishes with fresh seasonal ingredients, a cabinetful of delicious-looking cakes and slices, and a great array of Siggy’s famous-on-the-coast pies (although these are not so vego), and Havana coffee.

Perch Parrot frittersMy spinach and feta fritters were fresh, tender and flavourful, and accompanied by a generous green salad.

The service was friendly and welcoming, there’s a good array of reading material and one can pop next door to the Beach Road Deli afterwards to buy goodies for a delicious home-made platter for dinner.

What more could one want?

7 Beach Road, Paekakariki.

Coastal Cuisine

A weekend jaunt up the Kapiti coast brought some challenging weather, interesting birds (see my post here about Nga Manu Nature Reserve) and wonderful food.  The highlights:

  • RSC sage eggsThe delicious almond shortbread bought from the Paraparaumu Beach Market before the wind and rain washed them out (and the Mary Potter Hospice Strawberry Festival unfortunately).
  • The [south] Raumati Social Club’s sage eggs and quinoa/kale fritter specials (and we loved the myriad carpets on the ceiling and that there was a ‘comprehensive’ breakfast option on the menu).
  • Long Beach prawn popcornThe Long [Waikanae] Beach buzzy environment, delicious prawn popcorn, almond pear tart (later found to have come from the local Olde BeachBakery around the corner – see below), great service and fabulous tea cosies.  Also noted the new North End micro-brewery being established in the cafe so that the return visit for delicious looking (and very popular) pizza can be accompanied by a craft brew. Nice.
  • The roti with spicy peanut sauce and warming flavourful red duck curry at Muang Thai at Paraparaumu Beach.
  • No6 sconeThe scones at No 6 Cafe at Raumati Beach (simply the best we’ve had in ages, both date and cheese).
  • Everything at the Olde Beach Bakery at Waikanae Beach. I could have just pulled up a chair and stayed all day.  In the end, I took home flaky well-made pies for dinner.
  • Relish Cafe’s warm bacon and avocado salad.  Simple but tasty, in a wonderful cottage environment.

Indep BurgerFor next time we’re lining up the ones we couldn’t manage this time – the Independent Burger Company Truck at Paraparaumu Beach (due
to weather) and Soprano Italian Restaurant (also at the Beach and booked to the gunnels prior).

We are so, so lucky with our regional offerings, as well as what we tend to focus on in the city.

Bon appetit.

Waimea cafe…..and Max Christie

I am going to talk about Waimea Cafe and Restaurant, but firstly I have to talk about Max Christie.

Max is a 16 year old singer-songwriter-guitar player with quite some musical future ahead I suspect.  From a Wellington family who visit the Waikanae area reasonably regularly, Max can often be found serenading the guests at Waimea Cafe.  A mix of jazz, blues, ballads, a little of his own, a little rap, a little of everything really, and expertly melded and medleyed together.  In fact, I damn near forgot
Waimea entertainto notice what I was eating such was the passion and presence of this young man (and for those who know me, you’ll know that’s almost unheard of).

So, although Max doesn’t yet have a formal marketing presence via the web or Facebook and needs to be a little older for pub gigs, keep an eye out for opportunities to see him in action (and the technical part of our household commented that he has extremely good modulation, which is apparently a very good thing) – keep an eye on Waimea Cafe’s Facebook page for info on who’s performing and when.

And so to Waimea Cafe.

The best thing about Waimea is the location.  Up on the beach front at Waikanae. With regular live music in the sunshine.  Pretty hard to beat.

The next best thing about Waimea is the staff.  Friendly, welcoming, humorously bantering, and not missing a trick service-wise (replacing cutlery, noticing drinks were ready for refills, explaining menu items, ensuring sated and satisfied).

Waimea mush brushettaThe third best thing is the breadth of offerings.  Tasting plates, sharing platters, bigger meals, fun cocktails, a raft of craft beers, wines, front deck casual spaces, inside slightly more formal, etc (and a damned fine ladies toilet).

The menu leans towards seafood and mediterranean, with dishes like penne with tuna puttanesca, Italian lardo with agro dolce onions on toasted ciabatta, cucumber salad with potato, olives, fennel and yoghurt dressing, Waimea crab ravioli with crab bisque (keen to try that next time), Waimea seafood plate to share, etc.

Waimea fishchipsMany online reviews talked about small servings for prices charged, but we found them to be satisfactory. Especially the $23 Sacred Water Pilsner battered fish and chips (monkfish no less) which had three fairly substantial pieces of fish on hand cut chips, and perfectly satisfied Mr Him Indoors.

Two of our three dishes (two tasters) could have done with a little more seasoning though and I’d like to sample more of the seafood options next time to really judge the food quality I think (ergo arrive with empty stomach).

1 Waimea Road, Waikanae Beach.






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.

Mmmmm Relish…

An extra bonus post this week (haven’t I been busy).  Relish cafe in Waikanae. Yummmmo.

A fine Sunday afternoon was too good to pass up for a quick ride to exercise the bikes (not unlike horses getting cranky if not ridden in a while!). According to the Met Service (probably should have learnt that lesson already) it was finer up the western coast, so a jaunt to Relish cafe at Waikanae was decided, with a return run over the Paekakariki Hill Road.  I haven’t been there in a while, but they’ve been consistently good over the years. Usually for coffee and cake on the way past, as it was to be this time too.

Relish is in a lovely little cottage just over the railway lines, doing Wednesday to Sunday daytimes.  On a fine day one can sit outside in among the cottage garden. The staff are absolutely lovely, and the food is always presented delightfully. Today I had a hankering for carrot cake and R had the vanilla slice.  The cake being dense and moist and most satisfying, and the slice being sinfully creamy and glossy and entertaining as all getup to watch him eat!

I chose a hot lemon honey ginger drink which came in its own white teapot with cup and extra hot water.  Far nicer than the usual glass (and a darn sight easier to hold – do those cafe people forget glass gets really really really hot?).  And R’s coffee had good crema and pleasing coffee aromas wafting around as well.  So, up to its usual high standard then. Definitely a place you should aim for if passing up and down the highway.

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