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…

Fortune Favours

It’s taken me a while to decide if Fortune Favours (the bold, the brave, the lucky etc…) ticks all my boxes after a couple of mediocre food experiences on first visits (although the ambience, decor and beers were all good). However I feel like they’ve found their groove now, and they definitely have oodles of Wellington character.

Fortune favours

Downstairs is a darker and cooler environment, while upstairs is light bright and full of brewing equipment, decks and leaners. I like that they’ve taken on an old furniture-makers building and retained the character and history of it, melding nicely into the Leeds Street laneway vibe.

I also like that one of their features is cheese and beer matching – a little different to the norm. With many cheese dishes on the menu, and a dedicated meat and cheese bar downstairs.

Having tried a few dishes, I find the share boards to be the way to go here, with the ability to choose your own meats and cheeses.

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With Shannon Thorpe (ex-Good George Brewing) partnered with the resources of the Wellington Hospitality Group (Munchen, Bethel Woods, Coene’s, Gaslight and loads of others), and local brewer Dale Cooper on board (ex-Black Dog), you won’t go thirsty here any time soon. And can probably expect some interesting brews over time.

I enjoyed a sip of all the beers on the paddle (yep worlds most useless drinker!), then settled on a dark beer, whose name totally escapes me at the moment, but was light while still having a rich flavour.

FF glass.jpg

Definitely worth a visit, and particularly fun in a group.

7 days from 11am til late.

7 Leeds Street

 

Artisan @ The Bolton

I have always liked Exec Chef MacLean Fraser’s style at Artisan, and wasn’t disappointed when checking out the new spring/summer menu today.

He’s also one of only two New Zealanders to date to be appointed a WorldChefs judge. Which also says something.

Artisan setting.jpg

Another of the things I’ve always liked at Artisan is the comfort and peacefulness to enjoy a meal or meeting without feeling like I’m at the zoo. The staff are unobtrusive (but still professional and available at the right times), you’re away from street level noise, and there’s a lovely sense of casual elegance right from the start when you float up the winding staircase.

Todays lunch consisted of melt-in-the-mouth marshmallowy tuna pastrami with crispy fennel and grapefruit mayo; followed by the market Moki on a Niçoise warm potato salad with a crisp pea, feta, mint and bean side salad; and then the creme brûlée with poached rhubarb (yes, I did share!).

All of the dishes were light, fresh, satisfying and felt just like summer – clearly made with quality ingredients and a light hand in the kitchen.

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I also liked the interesting non-alcs (sparkling lime and cranberr or feijoa smoothie), the low alcohol and gluten-free beer section (Kereru’s Auro gluten-free Golden Ale), and a wide range of wines and spirits to suite all tastes. As you’d expect from a hotel restaurant.

Gluten-free food options are also available, and I expect Artisan would cater any dietary requirements without issue.

So don’t under-estimate this gem tucked away at the Bolton Hotel. You don’t have to spend a fortune or have a large (in this case lunch) eat, you can go light with one of their salads in a small size ($14), or maybe the soufflé with goat’s cheese, spinach and velouté ($17). Or go whole hog and make an event of it.

Artisan decor.jpg

Do check out their Christmas menus, both lunch and dinner, they look pretty darned fine if you’ve still got some partying left to do (sorry Christmas Day itself at Artisan is sold out).

The Bolton Hotel, 12 Bolton 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.

Tinakori exterior HERO.jpg

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

 

Black Coffee at Newtown

I finally got into Black Coffee at Newtown. What an awesome (and very Wellie) place!

Black coffee decor.jpg

The coffee is Havana, and the food ranges from toasties to ginger ‘dead’ men if you’re just after a sweet bite with your coffee.

There are a couple of pinball machines, ever-changing art exhibitions, a small music ‘shop’ at the rear, and oodles of groove. A place one could wile away a good chunk of time I should think.

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There’s not really much more to say other than get thyself to Newtown.

Monday to Saturday daytimes.

133 Riddiford Street, Newtown.

La Petite French grocery

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

La Petite exterior.jpg

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

Raglan Roast Pizza

Raglan Roast in Holland Street snapped up chef Matteo Ughi when Osteria del Toro closed its doors, and as a result, now offer up tasty wood-fired pizzas.

Raglan pizza board.jpg

Matteo uses a northern Italian dough recipe that is proofed differently, and cooked at a much lower 350deg (usually 500deg), giving a very thin light base that stays fresh and crisp longer, working well for deliveries and takeaways too (crafty devils! – check them out on Delivereasy).

In between pizzas, he also bakes all the breads used by Raglan Roast in their counter food, or for you to take home.

The space is very Wellington – off the beaten track and suitably quirky in vibe and decor – and the service was prompt and friendly.

The house chilli and garlic oils drizzled over our smoked chicken, jalapeno, mozarella and pepper pizza gave a delightful edge. And yes, the mozzarella was suitably finger-licking stretchy and stringy.

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You can also finish off with a sweet pizza – strawberry, blueberry or banana (I’m eyeing up the blueberry for next time) – or other sweet treat made in-house.

Daytimes til 5pm Monday/Tuesday, and 9.30pm Wednesday to Sunday.

12 Holland Street

Pravda turns steakhouse at night

Pravda has always been a favourite of mine for daytime eating. The lovely high ceilings, spacious feel, excellent service, and quality food (and will remain so).

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However, they’ve now turned a little Jervois Steakhouse in the evenings (the same Nourish Group of restaurants), with no fewer than 13 different cuts of meat available. Carnivore heaven.

But never fear if you’re not carnivorous (or just not a red meat eater), there are still plenty of other dishes available and a full separate vegetarian menu.

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The highlights of the opening night for me were the truffle brioche-crumbed asparagus, the Pravda onion rings, the seared kingfish, the Japanese wagyu, the house Yorkshire puds, and the green spanner crab and ricotta risotto. We didn’t make it to dessert (eyes and stomach not being able to negotiate a truce), but I’m certainly eyeing up several for future visits.

You can read more details here of the first night experience, or hop along yourself to check it out.

107 Customhouse Quay

 

 

Grand Century surprise

A friend who knows the owners of Grand Century on Tory Street told me about their refresh, with a more contemporary decor (I believe there is a little more art to come for the side wall), and a new smart chef from China.

Grand Cent decor

So we toddled along this week for dinner, and I have to say, it well exceeded my expectations. We shared a range of dishes, all of which were beautifully presented, executed with a light touch (not my experience generally with Chinese restaurants), and clearly had used quality ingredients.

The crispy prawns were lightly battered, and I learnt that you can eat the whole thing, tail and all (in fact I enjoyed the tail more than the head!); the whole blue cod was tender with gentle herby notes (beware the odd bone); the rice-wrapped sesame parcels were sweet, crispy and moreish; the orange beef satisfactorily sticky and tender with touches of crispness; and the deep fried pork had a light batter and almost melted in the mouth.

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And then onto dessert. Oh my god.

Caramelised kumara beneath a tree of spun sugar, with the chunks of kumara dipped in iced water to enhance the texture just before eating (and yes this dessert is on their menu as a standard option – done with either apple or kumara).

I would never in a million years have expected this in a Chinese restaurant. And I can’t say enough about the uniqueness, finesse and execution of this dish; Judy has netted herself one smart chef indeed (and nice to have a dessert that isn’t creamy and over-rich).

Grand Cent caram kum dessert.jpg

We washed all this down with a rather nice Mt Difficulty Chardonnay, and finished off with a round of liqueurs (as you do right?).

I’ve also heard a sneaky rumour that the new chef does a mean Peking Duck for groups, but one needs to request it a few days in advance, as its not a standard offering.

I was very impressed with the step up that Grand Century have taken, and intend to take my dinner club back soon.

84 Tory Street

 

 

 

Hot Sauce

If you haven’t checked out Hot Sauce yet, its definitely time to do so.

Hot Sauce decor

I heard it somewhere described as as cross between Dragonfly and Mr Go’s and that’s about right. Although more lounge bar than restaurant (the pic above had tables cleared away for opening night, so there are more places to perch!), the food is still very good, and we found it a peaceful place to enjoy a bite and drink away from the Courtenay rat-race.

The food is Asian ‘non-fusion’, in that Chef Wylie Dean is more about keeping dishes authentic, and all are pretty much bite sized and easy to handle.

The drinks also cover a large range from sakes to champagne to pretty cocktails to Japanese beer and harder spirits. So you can’t possibly go thirsty or hungry at Hot Sauce.

Read the full blurb here.

QT Museum Hotel, 7 days from 4pm.

 

 

Sweet Vanilla Kitchen, Lower Hutt

OMG, here’s another ‘how did I not know of this place’..

After shopping for motorbike gear we needed rejuvenation and found it right here at Sweet Vanilla Kitchen in Lower Hutt (that’s the excuse for the caramel macadamia slice anyway!).

Sweet Vanilla exterior

SVK is found on a suburban corner in a quaint wee villa, and is totally deserving of its online reviews, and accolade as the 2017 winner of Hellman’s best suburban cafe crown.

The brunches were a sight to behold, as well as being very nicely executed with fresh and tasty components. The banana bread with seasonal fruits was light and very generous (nice thick slices which didn’t sog or sag under the weight of the fruit), and the dukkah and crushed avo on toast with poached egg was also nicely done (although the chip fiend noted the avo was more mashed than crushed, Mr Pedantic!).

Sweet Vanilla bana bread fruit

Sweet Vanilla avo dukkah

The cake cabinet is a sight to behold, and it took me some time to decide what delight to enjoy, and when I couldn’t, took home the rhubarb butterscotch cake for breakfast the next day as well (be rude not to right?).

Between here and Comes and Goes, I’m never going anywhere else for delicious brunches in the Petone/Lower Hutt area.

Sweet Vanilla cara macad

Daytimes from 8am, 7 days per week (and yes, you can book).

49 Pretoria Street, Lower Hutt

 

 

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