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 “Modern / Contemporary”

Fine eats at the Tinakori Bistro

I really was surprised by the standard of food when I dined at the Tinakori Bistro a month or so ago.

So much so, that I went back and chatted with chef/owner Aaron Stott and  wrote about them for Word on the Street (check out the full details here).

And they’re still doing Grab One vouchers as we speak.

So if you fancy some very nice dining in a casual environment, Tinakori Bistro should be on your list.

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328 Tinakori Road

Don’t under-estimate the Glasshouse

The Glasshouse restaurant at Rydges in Hawkstone Street (formerly the Portland Towers hotel) first came to my attention during this year’s Wellington on a Plate.

Their element of surprise was one of the most innovative around and was extremely well executed – mains presented as desserts and vice versa (pork belly with crumble custard and gelato; peanut butter and jelly toastie for dessert). And so I ended up going back and chatting to Chef Andy and Marketer Rebecca about what’s going on.

Quite a lot as it happens.

The Glasshouse has done a little re-decorating, is upping the food ante, and is starting to emerge from its cocoon.

Andy started at the Glasshouse as an apprentice some 14 years ago, and has been around a number of other Wellington establishments before circling back.

Given they’re a home-away-from-home for many of their guests, many dishes have a familiarity to them, but are done with a focus on local, seasonal and artisan ingredients (On-Trays, GelissimoZany Zeus, among others). And I liked the introduction at the front of the menu telling some of the provider stories.

They’re also very focused on giving a friendly welcome, and relaxed but professional service. And I can say over two recent lunch visits, both boxes were ticked.

The things that stood out my visits were:

  • The baguette around the hot chicken schnitzel was excellent, with a satisfying crunchy exterior (not hard or explosive) and soft interior
  • The schnitzel was tender, with a pleasing balance of flavours across the shaved ham, Buffalo mozzarella and their house-made napoli sauce
  • The chicken caesar’s flavour and texture balance was likewise very good, and loaded with chicken (I didn’t need to eat for hours afterwards!)
  • The perfect texture of the egg yolk on the caesar
  • The presentation was excellent each time
  • I felt very relaxed by the end of each visit
  • And most impressively, on ordering the caesar, the immediate response was to ask whether I had any gluten issues. Very smart.

While understated, the Glasshouse is a very pleasant, light and airy place to have lunch away from the corporate rat-race. There was an interesting mix of conference-goers, locals, corporate folks and even a retired group of gentleman having their weekly lunch on my last visit (and looking like they were thoroughly enjoying it!), so its not pretentious, and welcoming to all.

Stand-by for bean bags, bbq’s and more in their sunny, sheltered bar courtyard this summer. And possibly even some Sunday family feast type events too.

Stay tuned….

24 Hawkstone Street.

Shepherd & Al’s Best Ugly Bagels

Shepherd

Shepherd has opened in Leeds Street next to Pomodoro Pizza, brought to us by Shepherd Elliott (Ti KoukaLeeds Street Bakery) and Sean Golding (Golding’s free dive bar).

shepherd-entry

Sean and Shep wanted to maintain the laneway vibe and create a place that provided all styles – a wine, a bite, a meal, an interesting beer, a shared catchup with friends, or just dessert and coffee. A place to come together.

The space is actually the original canteen of the Hannahs Shoe Factory (and a large party-central student flat between times!), so the perfect setting. And has are a number of different areas and seating styles, including some at the kitchen counter so you can see exactly how its all done (no secrets here).

The food is light, tasty and extremely well executed, with the cheapest item at $4 (oyster), and the most expensive $28 (you will need a couple of courses though).They are also being playful by combining ingredients and mixing courses in ways you might not expect (a custard entree? pikelets with house made cheese, salted tamarillo and roasted hazelnuts? pulled pork with apple, fennel and red curry mustard?).

The drinks reflect recent travel, with some interesting big (alcohol, size and price) Californian craft beers on the list. Alongside a whole bunch of ‘sour and interesting’ and some Garage Project, Yeastie Boys (the Rex Attitude Peat-Smoked Strong Golden Ale was really memorable), 8 Wired, Panhead and ParrotDog, etc.

From 5.30pm Wednesday to Sunday, with some bookings taken (via phone for the moment, but watch out for a website and online booking system soon).

Al’s Best Ugly Bagels

Best Ugly is fast food at its best – Montreal bagels (lighter then their New York cousins), hand rolled, poached, wood-fired, and delivered to you with a range of traditional and kiwi toppings in open sandwich style. So no jaw-cracking chewing here (yay!). The likes of peanut butter and jam, rueben (below), Stewart Island salmon, marmite,  Zany Zeus cream cheese etc.

It’s a pretty slick process a’la’Starbucks where you order, then move along to the delivery counter and listen for your name, then see if you can wangle a stool at the wall or window. Be prepared to take-away as there isn’t much seating, but what there is, does turn over reasonably quickly.

Check out the daily bagel and drinks boards too, interesting stuff.

7 days, 7am to 3pm. Swan Lane behind Floraditas (also newly earthquake-strengthened and with some new eye-catching dishes alongside the time-honoured favourites). Full laneway updates here.

bagels-rueben

 

 

 

 

 

The Jardin Grill

UPDATE: The Jardin Grill is currently closed due to a kitchen fire, re-opeingn mid 2017.

The new five-star Sofitel hotel is under way on Bolton Street.

Jardin decor 6

There’s a botanical theme throughout given their nearness to the Botanic Gardens, including the two eating spaces – the Green Room bar, and the Jardin Grill restaurant (Jardin being French for garden/botanical).

The Green Room is very pleasant with lush furnishings and different spaces for quiet catchups, anytime tapas, or a celebration. They’re planning on stocking non-alcoholic champers shortly too, so you don’t miss out on a bubbly flute if not drinking – nice!

The staff are multi-national as you’d expect, and very professional and courteous. The bar lad certainly didn’t blink an eye when I asked him to create a mocktail that wasn’t sharp, sweet or too fruity, with a spot-on result.

They also have a $7.50 coffee and pastry, or coffee and scone deal daily from 7am; an easy and convenient place for that overdue coffee catchup.

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The Jardin Grill has been decorated to mix a little ‘market’ with ‘stylish’ comfort.

The ‘market’ is achieved with wooden signs above the open kitchen counter, a meat and cheese pantry you can get up close and personal with, baskets of fruit and preserves around, and a wood-fired rotisserie stoked by the staff (luckily it was only a mocktail I’d had first or I might have been breaking into a rendition of Bill and Boyd’s ‘put another log on the fire, babe…..’, and you know what comes next!).

The ‘stylish’ is achieved with a mix of garden and earthy tones and patterns (make sure you look up), an inviting curved wine rack at the entry, a mix of plush and contemporary seating, attention to detail on the tables, and a delightful outside patio for fine days.

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Jardín describe their food as contemporary with a strong bias towards NZ meats, cheeses and local seasonal products. Their tomato juice comes from a local grower, for example. Their pricing is hotel level ($18-$25 for tapas/entrees, $36-$43 for mains, and $15-$18 for desserts), with the menu set to expand further over the next couple of months towards their formal launch.

The current dinner menu has some interesting ingredients and dishes – tonka bean ice cream, beetroot and feta gratin, and blueberry and gin sorbet to name just a few, and the tapas likewise – mushroom cappuccino, wood-roasted merino spare ribs, and rocket/bacon arancini.

Dinner ended up being the the multi-fish parcel special wrapped in serrano and served on mussel risotto, and the honey roasted poisson on bacon and herb risotto. The poisson was fun to watch roasting, and again I was able to get up close and personal to see it. Dessert was a bitter chocolate tart, and brandy snap ice cream trio.

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All dishes were pleasant with subtle flavours (the strongest notes being the risottos), including the bitter chocolate tart which turned out to be neither bitter nor sweet (pleasingly so as it happens). The staff need a little more time to gel and settle, and get to grips with the Wellington hospitality scene, however the bones of a nice experience are in place.

Jardin’s breakfast menu also operates a little differently to other hotels. You still pay a set fee, but can choose between just the continental, or the full, with an  a’la’carte hot dish of your choosing (rather than a hot buffet). Or you could just pop by and have an a’la’carte dish. A nice mix of options, and again a very pleasant place for a breakfast catchup.

We watch with interest to see how Jardin develops.

17 Bolton Street.

 

 

 

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.

 

Coco and the Roxy turn five

Happy birthday to Coco and the Roxy in Miramar! Five years on and just getting better and better.

Coco header.jpg

Check out my recent visit and thoughts from the key players there. I particularly like their playfulness and community spirit.

They’ve also got quite a lot going on for WOAP with Creole flavouring, a crack at defending their 2015 Capital Cocktail win, and a couple of events as well. And one of the country’s best and most innovative cocktail makers.

Definitely worth a jaunt out to Miramar.

 

 

 

Supporting the students

LCB header mainWe’re lucky to have training restaurants we can go along and dine at now and then – the Le Cordon Bleu brasserie, and WelTec School of Hospitality’s  Bistro 52 (both use the same restaurant space).

These open days are excellent ways for the students to get real live practice, and for us to enjoy good food at economic prices.

WelTec is primarily the course of choice for school leavers starting out in the industry or those wanting to get some skills in their pocket before overseas travel, whereas Le Cordon Bleu has a range of students (most from overseas) and delivers high end French cookery training.

Both are totally worthwhile for different reasons. Read about the experience at both – Le Cordon Bleu and Bistro 52, and check out their open dates – Le Corden Bleu and Bistro 52.

I challenge you.

52 Lower Cuba Street.

B52 food5

 

 

 

 

 

Muse Bar & Eatery now in Chews Lane

Muse on Allen is no more and Samuel North has opened in the old 3C premises in Chews Lane.

Muse header1Like previous incarnations there, the ground floor is the bar/nibbles/chatting space, while the upstairs is a restaurant.

The food is more casual (and therefore cheaper) than Muse on Allen, but still quality and with clearly some time invested in some dishes.

Muse Eatery and Bar are also now open from 11am in their new location, with a daily changing $15 lunch special which looks pretty good value for money (keep an eye on their Facebook page for details).

You can read the full details of our dinner experience here.

Chews Lane

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A Matterhorn resurgence

MH green bowl.jpgUPDATE: Matterhorn have ceased doing brunches and are back to 3pm onwards 7 days.

Matterhorn has been around a long time with various food styles. But recently has returned to an a’la’carte style with the return of Executive Chef Sean Marshall as co-owner.

They’ve also re-established weekend brunches, which are a delight in that lovely sunny courtyard (if only summer continued all year round!). With the menu being a mix of traditional dishes (corn fritters) and newer trends (smoothie bowls).

The service and ambience remains personable, they still do a cracking cocktail, their Sunday roasts remain one of the best around, and they still have a variety of live evening entertainment.

Full details here about the new brunch experience.

106 Cuba Street (down the corridor, not far from the bucket fountain)

MH courtyard

Zibby’s is back

Zibbys lamb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE: Glen Taylor moved back to Australia at the end of 2016 and Adam Newell (owner and Michelin-experienced chef) is back at the helm. More good things are going on here.

For those who missed it over at Word on the Street, here’s the latest on Zibibbo.

The service standard is back and the food is a notch smarter than it used to be with Glen Taylor (formerly Taylors on Jackson at Petone) at the helm of the kitchen. They totally deserve their 2015 WOAP menu winner accolade.

There’s a range of eating options, so something for everyone:

  • pre-show
  • a-la-carte  including tasty pizzas
  • a whole separate vegetarian menu (not just one or two dishes)
  • bar snacks
  • group set menus
  • event menus
  • burger Friday lunches
  • Sunday rotisserie specials
  • yum-cha style tapas on Fridays in the bar at 5.30pm.

25 Taranaki Street.

 

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