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…

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.

 

 

 

 

Beanbags and courtyards

I’m hoping I haven’t jinxed summer by writing a post about the best beanbag and courtyard spots in the city!

karaka-beanbags

But it had to be done, as there are some very groovy spots, with many tucked away and not immediately obvious.

Feel free to share your favourites in the comments below, as there’s still plenty of summer left for us all to go exploring.

Time to relax and enjoy…

 

 

 

Husk on Ghuznee

Apologies for the hiatus folks, a family death, a property settlement and xmas interrupted the eating and drinking with gay abandon for a few weeks. But back in business now.

Husk Bar and Eatery has opened on Ghuznee Street opposite Glover Park, down a hallway marked by a barrel on the street.

This is the brainchild of the Choice Bros craft beer brewers (who do some interesting concoctions – including a bull semen beer for the Greenman pub a year or two ago!), and the Karamu Coffee folks. To bring you a micro-brewery (some parts yet to arrive and craft brewing to get under way soon after that), a coffee roastery (Karamu is currently in an industrial part of Seatoun), and quality eats (they’ve pinched two chefs with significant Wellington experience at places like Shed 5, Pravda, Shepherd and Ancestral).

The long-term vision is to have all their own beers on tap, both the coffee and beer matching the food, and some interesting amalgamations like barrel aged coffee. Ambitious.

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So the venture has just begun, and will develop more over the next three months. But my first visit today left me pretty impressed with the effort that’s gone into it so far. From the main decor down to the cutlery containers on the tables, the quality of the food, and the service.

We sampled the Choice Bros ‘Strung out on Lasers’ raspberry and lime sour (a little sweet and sour and quite quaffable), the coffee (well-made with subtle flavours), and the Bach Brewing ‘Duskrider’ Red IPA (reasonably hoppy). I particularly liked that one could get a 150ml tasting size ($4-$5), and try several if so inclined, and that the whole venue is smoke-free.

And although it was 1pm, the breakfast menu was still offered as well as the lunch, so I enjoyed the fried Jamaican Ginger cake with vanilla mascarpone and poached rhubarb, and the chip fiend enjoyed the house crumpets with bourbon butter and Husk preserves.

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You’ll see above that the presentation was very good, and the flavours and textures were well balanced and done with a light hand (no drowning of anything here). They also bake in-house, so easy to pop by for a coffee and scone.

Definitely a place to watch with interest.

7am to late, 7 days.

62 Ghuznee Street

 

 

 

 

 

Machete – Guatemalan coffee and tacos

As mentioned in a recent Word on the Street post, Paul and Cesar have brought some Guatemala home to Wellington.

machete-guat-people

They are both very passionate about their relationship with Guatemala (Cesar’s heritage), and the word ‘earthy’ comes up a lot in conversation. Many people there only have the basics, so they’re masters as using whatever’s to hand to spice up their lives, including the spices in the food.

At Machete, you enjoy single origin Supreme coffees roasted for the gentler siphon or V60 brewing methods, or you can still get a standard espresso if you fancy. Paul is very knowledgeable about coffee and happy to share information.

There’s also a range of coffee accessories and some interesting teas available for purchase if you fancy.

On the food front, the breakfast menu is small but tasty (check out the bircher parfait with cherries below; and the kiwifruit, ricotta and honey on Leeds Street toast), while the lunch menu mostly focuses on the tacos.

What makes these tacos Guatemalan is the use of chilli (judiciously), and simple un-adorned ingredients. You can choose one, two or three, which gives the option of trying all fillings, or mixing and matching to suit your personal preferences (including one vegetarian).

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I had two and found them both to be fresh, light, and well balanced in flavour and texture, and interestingly, a good match with the coffee. And if you fancy afters, there’s a very Kiwi hokey pokey biscuit, or scones and one or two other house-baked goodies.

Machete make all of their food and fillings in-house, with only the taco shells coming from other specialists, so you truly are getting hand-crafted and quality food.

Monday to Friday 7.30am-3.30pm, Saturdays 9am-4pm.

9 Boulcott Street.

 

PappaRich

PappaRich has opened in Grey Street opposite the Intercontinental.

It’s pretty much the Malaysian Macca’s, albiet with a little more class. So wouldn’t normally be on my radar, but for the roti’s and hainan bread – both are excellent. The hainan is gorgeous steamed with butter and sugar, and choose any roti – you won’t go wrong.

pappa-decor

The chain started in Kuala Lumpar, and is now in Australia, Brunei, China, South Korea, Singapore, USA and little ol’ NZ (Auckland first in 2015).

It’s pretty much self-service – you write your own orders from a large glossy menu and then hit a green button on the table for collection – but the menu is very colourful and and easy to read.

The down-side to all of this was evidenced a little later when the food came in random sequences, with one meal nearly finished before the rest arrived, and the coconut jam roti (which was excellent) arriving later again.

Unbeknown to me it takes longer to craft, so either the kitchen don’t plan for these things, or its custom to just receive each item as it’s ready (which you don’t know because there isn’t an order-taker to tell you!) or you should mark your order in some way to indicate sequence (yep, you get the picture).

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The rest of the food was fresh and pleasant (fairly mild), and there look to be some interesting desserts for another adventure.

PappaRich is not licenced, but there’s a large selection of non-alcs from Cham (mixed coffee and tea served cold with ice) to fresh juices, a couple of hot offerings, and the many mugs of milky concoctions.

The almond grass jelly drink was a bit odd-sounding (right up my alley then!), but was actually rather fun and tasty – turns out those big straws are just the ticket for slurping up cubes of jelly.

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Seven days from 11am.

3B/1 Grey Street

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.

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.

Dillingers throwback glam

Dillingers have opened at Midland Park where Soho Brown used to be.

This is a venture by the Green Man folks, with Kristan Mulcahy (formerly of Grill Meats Beer) at the helm food-wise, a bunch of friendly welcoming staff, and an appealing fit-out.

The decor is a little throw-back American glam, a little speakeasy, and a little wild west. The bar and brasserie opens onto Midland Park so gets afternoon sun, and will have built-in entertainment whenever there’s something going on. However, you could still tuck yourself away down the back if you wanted a bit more peace.

The menu ranges from easy finger food like smoked cheese and jalapeno croquettes, screaming eagle sliders (bbq beef cheek), and rueben sandwiches, through to ceviche with tortilla chips; baby carrot and haloumi salad; southern fried spiced chicken with smokey mash and slaw (they have two smokers out the back); and pork hock.

With Kristan’s hand in the background, many dishes have contemporary ingredients and presentation that lift them above the norm – the pork hock comes with carrot puree, kale, chilli pork praline, and sweet and sour sauce; the salmon is beetroot cured and comes with pickled fennel, horseradish, orange, capers and crostini; and the beef bavette comes with bourbon bbq beef cheek, roast shallots and smoked potato pompoms.


The crispy chicken was indeed crispy, but still succulent, and the accompanying spicy mayo an excellent contrast. The pork belly and calamari salad with mint and ginger dressing was like an Asian-flavoured caesar, with bursts of flavour and tender calamari, and the parmesan sticks with spinach dip a hearty starter or great nibble with a glass of wine.

We enjoyed a couple of interesting beers – the Choice Bros ‘Afraid of Americans’ IPA and ‘On the Brain PBRA’ (peanut butter and raspberry) – and vowed to come back for both brunch and dessert soon (not necessarily in that order!).

I think Dillingers will do well at Midland, and have opened with the ambience, food and service good to go.

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Check out a few more pics from the opening.

7 days morning, noon and night.

Midland Park

 

 

 

 

 

Gotta Go to Mr Go

An Asian hawker-style street food establishment has gone into the old Pizza King premises on Taranaki Street (near Courtenay). And its good.

Fresh, light and flavourful food, with nothing over $15 (the owners set the place up on a shoestring and are passing the savings on), Mr Go’s has a focus on community and melding together of influences – check out the history of Mr Go on their website.

We over-ordered to start given we didn’t expect significant quantity, and never made it to dessert. The food came pretty much all together, so we were able to sample all at once.

The most memorable items were the pulled pork bao bun; the housemade pineapple mint sparkling water; lightly coated popcorn chicken with an excellent Thai basil mayo; and the kung pao cauliflower (bring your spicy palate).

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There’s also cold beer on tap and by the bottle, a couple of ciders, a bunch of wines, various sodas and cocktails (many with asian flavours), and bottomless Supreme filter coffee. And the service was friendly and welcoming.

I’m so back there soon for another go (more moderately paced so I can fit dessert this time!).

Monday to Saturday 11am til late.

59 Taranaki Street.

 

 

Tasty Tokeyo

Tokeyo is the new venture by the Wellington Hospitality Group (Munchen, Coene’s, Bethel Woods, and many other suburban bars), in the former Vivo premises. And should definitely be on your must-try list (assuming you like Japanese food).

Developed under the hand of Vincent Lombino of Hideaway fame, Tokeyo hits all the right notes in terms of decor, mood, authentic Japanese food (albiet with a little dab of Korean here and there courtesy of Chef Kim’s background), and excellent service.

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A couple in my group have lived in Japan, and were able to explain some of the finer points like the Okonomiyaki being the Osaka style where ingredients are mixed first before cooking, as opposed to the Hiroshima style where they build layer by layer.

The freshness and execution was excellent, with the pork gyoza being a lovely mix of al dente-ness and porky softness, the grilled eggplant sauce so good I licked the plate clean, and the rainbow rolls so tender and flavourful that I nearly didn’t share.

Tokeyo desserts are sake, whisky or dessert cocktails, so we finished with a lightly warming pear-flavoured Gekkeikan sake while contemplating what to try next time.

And then checked out the beauty and precision of the sushi master at work behind the bar, including some pretty nifty blowtorch skills!

They have a DJ later on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings; do lunches on Fridays; have an excellent big group dining table; and are available for hire on Sundays and Mondays. Too easy.

From 4pm Tuesday to Saturday, and from noon Fridays.

19 Edward Street

 

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