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 “Vegetarian / Vegan”

Revelling in Rita

The Nikau folks have finally opened an evening service – at a new site in Aro Valley.

The tiny 1910 villa next door to the Taproom (the old Haya Deli) sets the scene for a relaxing dinner as if you were at a friend’s house.

Rita HERO

There’s no menu envy here, only a $65 three-course set menu of either meat or vegetarian persuasion. And a short, but well balanced, drinks list to go with it.

Rita is the name of Kelda’s grandmother, also born in 1910, so they’re using the setting as a prompt for looking back at recipes that might have been used in days gone by, making the most of whatever’s available, but delivering with a modern twist.

Rita lamb neck Drunk Nanny goat cheese

Slow-braised lamb neck chops with field peas, Nanny Goat silky goat cheese and radishes

So overall, a very comforting, convivial and relaxing experience. Delivered with the flair we’ve come to know and love from the Nikau team.

Read full details of our first Rita experience here.

89 Aro Street

 

 

Moss Caff

OMG, how did I not know about Moss Caff, which opened in the ASB Tower on Hunter Street at the end of 2016???

Moss decor

What gorgeous fresh, light, tasty, paleo and plant-based food (it’s okay carnivores, there’s meaty things too!).

The decor is warm, sunny and plant-y with lots of lovely open space, and if on your own, could quite happily sit at the window seats watching the world go by.

We enjoyed a mushroom stack with paleo bread, and a paleo spiced lamb and kumara pie. Both of which were superb. And had me immediately plotting my next visit.

ASB Tower, 2 Hunter Street.

Weekdays.

 

 

 

New vegan eats and a lightly 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

 

 

 

New vegan eating in the city

There’s a growing number of vegan options in the city that’ll meet your needs – morning, noon and night.

Boquita taco shop recently opened on Kent Terrace, with fresh, local, seasonal and vegan food.

Being the baby sister of La Boca Loca, these guys make everything themselves, including the tortillas, and totally know what they’re doing.

boquita-tacos-hero

I’ve also been chatting with Amber Sturtz of Easy as Kai – a one-woman band bringing us Austin, Texas inspired tacos with the same focus on fresh, local, seasonal, vegetarian and vegan. And I noticed she does a vegan coconut custard pie among her sweet American-style offerings.

You can check out her wares at the Frank Kitts Underground Market on Saturdays, and many of our street festivals (Island Bay, Newtown and Aro Valley Fair). Or have them delivered to your workplace on Tuesdays, Fridays and alternate Wednesdays to Weta (next delivery date shows at the bottom of the website page). Couldn’t be easier.

easy-as-kai-tofu-chorizo-vegan

And being summer, you shouldn’t miss out on cool, refreshing ‘ice creams’ either, as many sorbets and sorbetto’s in the city are vegan (vegetable binders rather than egg-based).

Case in point is Carello del Gelato on Oriental Parade.

They pride themselves on having a range of sorbets always available, all with fulsome flavours (yep, there was definitely a bunch of feijoas in the feijoa sorbet!), and nearly all vegan. Including a specialty dark chocolate that would surely satisfy any craving.

They also do soy-sorbet shakes, sorbet sundaes, and their own Mr Pops ice blocks, which include fruity vegan flavours like bursting blackberry, zesty lemon, and juicy apple. There’s also a couple of non-vegan flavours like flat white or creamy sea salted caramel, the caramel so unlike a traditional ice block that it felt like I was eating gelato on a stick.

carello-feijoa-sorbet

As well as their groovy little tasting room alongside Beach Babylon, you’ll see their bike around the waterfront in summer, and the Carello name popping up during events like Wellington on a Plate. And you can still get their 2016 WOAP dessert burger at the Oriental cafe if you missed out during the festival. Nice.

There’s also a bunch of flavours in one litre pottles for take-home, so there’s no way you’ll go short of dessert with Carello del Gelato on the job.

carello-lscape

 

Higher Taste, Midnight Espresso, Southern Cross Bar, Loretta, Olive Cafe, Maranui Cafe and Sweet Release are other established places that also spring to mind with vegan eats.

And I recently had a very pleasant vegan shepherds pie at the Glasshouse Restaurant at Thorndon Rydges – flavourful veg and chickpeas with a satisfying density not unlike the meaty version. Nicely done guys.

gh-vegan-shep-pie-2

And watch out for a new plant-based cafe at Lyall Bay called The Botanist due to open anytime soon…

Phew!

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

 

 

Veg and vegan at the Cross

Although the Southern Cross Bar and Restaurant has meaty stone grills and a roast dinner on Sundays and Wednesdays, their strength is the ever-increasing range of interesting vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan offerings (and the fabulous sun-drenched beer garden in summer).

On my most recent visit I had a Buddha Bowl of roasted spiced carrot and mint, wild rice and cranberry pilaf, toasted chickpeas (was a little wary about that component when ordering), spinach leaves, and a creamy almond dressing. It could have been up-scaled with Zany Zeus halloumi, chilli soy tofu, garlic chilli prawns or spiced chicken, but I decided I’d go for the basic and see what I thought.

Sthn X budda bowl

It really was excellent. The almond sauce was a nice conductor, and the toasted chickpeas were deliciously textured and light (not the dry dusty journey I’d expected). After sampling all the components, I ended up combining the the dish into a delicious mixed salad. Satisfying and healthy, nice.

I noticed they have quite the cake cabinet too now (if you don’t eat your chickpeas, you can’t have pudding!), so its also an easy place to slide by for a coffee and cake. Especially on peaceful weekdays. With at least two vegan options available always.

Sthn X cabinet

The Cross is all about different nooks and crannies, casual and easy dining, and suitable for everyone from families to students to lunch-time workers dashing in and out, a weekend BBQ in the sunny courtyard, or a large event. And excellent for those with vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free requirements.

There’s easily another dozen things I’m eyeing up, including:

  • the almond pina colada smoothie
  • the almond porridge topped with caramelised bananas, walnuts and lightly toasted coconut
  • the mushroom and halloumi Aro burger
  • the halloumi stone grill with mediterranean vegetables, beetroot and sunflower seed dip, and roasted kumara
  • the vegan cashew mac’n’cheese
  • Spanish baked tofu
  • butter and sage ricotta gnocchi
  • Mediterranean lentils with grilled veggies, toasted pistachios and crispy tofu or marinated and baked feta
  • I could go on and on…..

SthnX salt car ccake

I also might or might not have checked out the salted caramel cheesecake on a previous occasion. Somewhere along the line I’ve lost the side picture which shows that this beauty stood about 2 inches high, but you’ll get the idea. Rich, moorish and very memorable. My advice – share with a friend.

And do have a look at their Wellington on a Plate offerings too, again interesting vegetarian and vegan.

Sthn X night decor 2

7 days and nights.

39 Abel Smith Street

 

 

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.

 

Seize the day

Like everyone, I have been Seized.

I like that Seize on Lambton are fresh, seasonal, vegan, vegetarian, heavily plant-based, even paleo-friendly if that’s your thing. With fantastic staff.

Seize wall

There’s a range of non-typical salad bowls (coconut turmeric cerviche fish with watercress, capsicum, seasonal greens, organic quinoa and chili infused olive oil), create-your-owns, a daily vegetarian burger special (which I’ve managed to miss twice so far, such is the demand), a daily soup special (looked pretty fine at the table next to me, with the toast presented on a nice wooden side board), wraps, interesting breakfast and dessert options (raw porridge, acai chia pudding), and a sweet cabinet with goodies such as cacao and goji berry macaroons, raw raspberry cheesecake, gluten and dairy free banana loaf, etc etc.

Seize acai pudding

And that’s before a large range of equally interesting smoothies (kale goji, cacao berry nut, avo turmeric, maca coconut), juices (optimism, hydration, immunity, antioxidant, custom) and milk substitutes (almond, oat or coconut milk).

Holy hell. I’m going to need a lie down and a kale goji just to contemplate all that.

Seize wrap

It just so happens I’ve been in a few times, and I can tell you that even a simple bacon salad wrap is presented beautifully when eaten on site, and included a range of green textures and tastes alongside flavourful non-fatty (yay!) bacon.

The salads are colourful, fresh and tasty, and the acai chia pudding (organic chia seeds with coconut milk topped with antioxidant acai) was a lot like a bircher muesli with a sweet fruit layer across the top. Nice.

Seize salad
You might want to avoid the noon queues, and some items will sell out during peak lunch service, so plan your visit with care.

Lookout burger special, I’m coming for you…

7am-3pm weekdays.

117 Lambton Quay

Little Lottie…

A’la The Whitehouse, Capitol, Logan Brown, Shed 5, etc, Floraditas have also opened a little sister – Loretta, just a few doors up on Cuba.

Loretta menu

With a focus on plants and grains, its a nice change to all the meaty establishments popping up of late.  Like Flo’s there’s also quite a focus on fresh and seasonal, with a daily changing menu (the menu does have the date and day’s weather and then headings like soup, a pie, pate, a pasta, wood fired pizzas, wet risotto etc under which different daily options appear) which is designed to be ‘non-committal dining’ – pretty much the same all day and evening with varying sizes so you can choose whatever suits you at whatever time.

And there truly are some really interesting dishes like:

  • pumpkin, jerusalem artichoke and watercress farro salad
  • golden beetroot, apple, raisin and pea tendril buckwheat salad
  • red rice, kidney bean, quinoa, radicchio, rhubarb and feta salad
  • broccoli, kale and cashew pesto risotto
  • artichoke, green olive and almond pate
  • yellow beets, carrot, coriander and almond wholewheat bites
  • I could go on and on…..

Loretta bfasts

There are some meaty offerings for the carnivores (a half or whole chook, fish, and a beef dish), but the focus is definitely on plants and grains.

For breakfast I have partaken of orange, lemon and brandied sultana warm rice (so good I can still picture and taste it several weeks later….), and the house-made crumpets with quince curd.  Others have had green eggs (pesto and lots of herbs, not something rotten!), waffles with coconut yoghurt (real threads of coconut) and the broken sausage and thyme warm rice and all have been given the thumbs up (the crumpets were pretty small though).

The prices are good ($8 for open wholewheat sandwich bites – like brushettas, the breakfasts between $10 and $16, and the dinners between $18 and $25 – including the half chook), there’s lots of space, and the service is shaping up pretty well (FOH Manager Megan having shifted up the road from Flo’s but all other wait staff are new).

Loretta cakes

Loretta make some of their own sodas (rhubarb and rosewater, feijoa and lime, lemon verbena when last there), do a cold drip coffee, and have a central table with cakes and muffins if that’s all you’re after.  Nice.

The decor is pretty low key and simple and this isn’t a place you’d come for a big evening out, but is most definitely a place to drop by any time.

From 10am (Saturday and Sunday) or 11am (Wednesday to Friday) til 10pm.  Closed Sunday night and all day Monday and Tuesday.

181 Cuba Street.

 

 

Olive Cafe and Restaurant, Cuba Street

NOTE: Olive are expanding their vegetarian and vegan dishes. And their food and service has improved markedly since below (ownership re-organisation).

After a failure to launch fully on a sunny Sunday ride (sadly an italian breakdown and truck ride home), a wander up Cuba Street for brunch/lunch became the next chosen activity.

Olive has had a change in ownership in recent times with the new management emerging from portions of the original.

With it has come a slight decor revamp of added art, leather dining benches, plants, and courtyard upgrade, making the cafe feel more welcoming and less austere.

I have partaken of both a weekday counter late lunch (slice of pizza) and Sunday menu brunch/lunch in recent times, and whilst pleasant on both occasions, there was nothing distinguishing about either.

The late lunch snack was more peaceful, whilst the Sunday brunch was on a busy WOW weekend, with the cafe running at full tilt.

Although the menu had 4 or 5 pancake options (one of which had my attention), I was informed that all the pancakes were unavailable as they’d all flown out the door. Hmmm.  Hard to whip up another batch of batter?

So the next choice was creamy mushrooms on grainy toast with fresh herbs and lemon sardines with poached eggs on bruschetta. Not a lot of herbs on the mushrooms, but flavourful and not too creamy.

The sardines presentation I thought quite funky, but him indoors thought it a bit cheeky to merely take the lid off a can of cold sardines and plonk them on a plate beside two poached eggs on toast (below).

The coffee was considered okay, but did take some long time to get to us after ordering.

And the service was fairly minimal, having to order at the counter and being given cutlery to take back to the table with us.

So overall pleasant enough, and quite possibly a good spot for a quiet coffee and cake stop of an afternoon, but probably not distinctive enough to be forefront in my mind when considering brunch locations in the Cuba area.

They appear, however, to be working hard to develop their evening dining, and pictures of the newly covered garden courtyard and dinner meals on their facebook page are appealing, so possibly worth a go there one evening to check out progress on that front.

170 Cuba Street

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