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 tag “eat”

Dinner returns to Elements

Elements cafe at Lyall Bay now have a dinner service on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, in addition to their popular daytime fare.

The Elements philosophy is to gather people around a table to share great food and wine (not tapas, you get to have your own), with the food being nourishing and hand made from fresh, seasonable and sustainably farmed ingredients. In a relaxing and convivial environment without pretention (if that’s not a real word, I bags its credit!).

Elements decor

They certainly make nearly everything in-house including breads, stocks, sauces, pasta, ice creams, etc (unless there’s a local artisan product they’d like to showcase), with the intention of creating a fond food memory with a little ‘wow’.

Actually, the word fond seems just right for Elements.

So how did we go?

The complimentary bread was warm and fresh, with whipped salted and sweet chilli butter options, the sweet chilli being a little different to the norm.

And then we proceeded to the chive, pumpkin and blue cheese gnocchi with a side of smokey bacon peas (could have eaten a bucketful of those!), and the chicken with Jamaican spices. The gnocchi was comforting with many textures and flavours, and the chicken was pleasant with a ‘wow’ shredded chicken leg rosti cake. So far, so good.

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We then cracked on to the peanut butter parfait dessert, and port with dark chocolate truffles – it’s so nice to have a light / alternate dessert option when you don’t fancy the full monty.

The dessert had nicely bruleed bananas, along with dense parfait, light banana cake and crispy peanut brittle. AND surprise chocolate peanut butter truffles. Again lots of different textures which met well when spooned up together.

Elements banana dessert

I also very much enjoyed the pear, cucumber, lemon, mint and elderflower soda mocktail one of the young ladies crafted for me. And the very virtuous feeling about the number of fruits and veg I was ticking off for the day!

On the evening we visited, the restaurant had a nice hubbub, but nothing that intruded on our own conversation. And because there are several rooms to Elements, they can cater for groups more or less in their own space.

We had a very pleasant time overall, and I think just quietly, that young Sam might come further into his own as time goes by.

144 Onepu Road, Lyall Bay

Elements mocktail

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Counter Culture & Photonflux

There are a couple of groovy new eateries in Upper Victoria to go with the street widening and apartment building going on up there.

Counter Cult battleship

The first is a board game cafe, Counter Culture, with over 300 games available, and tasty food to boot. In the former Crafters premises, you will find many nooks and crannies to wile away as much time as you like playing old favourites or learning new games.

The second is a Sci Fi cafe, Photonflux, with memorabilia for Africa (if you’ll pardon the pun!), and tasty ‘fluxbun’ sandwiches the feature of the menu currently (South African fried dough filled with interesting ingredients – surprisingly, not unhealthy feeling at all!).

Both are definitely worth a visit, with Counter Culture also taking part in Wellington on a Plate.

Further details on both here.

Photon art

 

Bastardo and Two Grey

I’ve quite enjoyed two new eateries in the city lately, for totally different reasons.

Bastardo has oodles of olde-worlde charm and classy comfort food, while Two Grey is more of a modern brasserie for catching up with friends over a drink and tasty bites.

Bastardo decor MAIN

Bastardo on Tory Street (the old Pan de Muerto) is brought to us by the Cicio Cacio team from Newtown (also Franziska at Seatoun). And will do well. You can read my thoughts in detail here, and do make room for the groovy dessert trolley when you go.

 

Two Grey MAIN

Two Grey is the new Arizona on the corner of Featherston and Grey Streets. Still the same team out back, but with a focus on local, fresh, seasonal, and modern. The service has been a little patchy to date, but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt at the moment being newbies. Again, more detail here, and don’t miss the roasted cauliflower.

 

The Botanist at Lyall Bay

Having given them a month or so to settle in (that’s my excuse anyway!), I finally trucked out to the new Botanist at Lyall Bay for lunch.

Brought to us by the folks of Beach Babylon, Little Beer Quarter, and Basque, the point of difference here is that everything is vegetarian or vegan.

Botanist decor

The atmosphere is inviting – an old villa with views out to the south coast, a north facing garden / deck area and lots of light and plants indoors – and the staff were welcoming and friendly.

We tried out the pea, smoked brinza and zucchini fritters with pickled cucumber raita (with optional poached eggs), and the crumbed halloumi burger with herbed fries.

With the winner being the fritters (and my apologies, I just realised the pic is nearly all eggs!) with a pleasing texture and tangy raita offset. The burger was pleasant but nothing exciting and we struggled a bit to get herbiness off the fries, although they were nicely cooked. We probably should have tried one of the other burgers – marinated tempeh, or black bean, corn and pecan patty – to really sample something outside the norm.

The drinks cover all bases, with a range of local and NZ craft beers and ciders, all wines by the glass and bottle (virtually all NZ), and a bunch of appealing-sounding cocktails (Garden of Babylon with pea pods, Basil Crush, Flowerbed Martini, and Lavender Cosmo with lavender leaves). Unfortunately I was driving so kept to the non-alcoholic, which included the usual coffees, HardieBoys, Humble honey soda, Salty Dog apple and lime soda, smoothies, T Leaf organic teas etc. Next time.

I did chuckle at the drink menu saying ‘sorry we don’t serve marshmallows as they contain animal gelatin’, as we sat under a [wooden] deer head eating our vegetarian lunch!

Botanist deer

On the way out I saw the dinner menu (they’ve just started this week), and thought it contained more interesting dishes, so might head back for an evening soon.

Beware the place is apparently heaving at weekends (and was pretty full today at a Tuesday lunchtime) with a lot of flat surfaces, so fairly noisy. But bookings can be made online, so you should be able to pick your moment.

A pleasant addition to the South Coast.

219 Onepu Road, Lyall Bay

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-wood-entry

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!

salt-wood-bfast-swich

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).

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.

dillingers-photobooth

Check out a few more pics from the opening.

7 days morning, noon and night.

Midland Park

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

The Seashore Cabaret, Petone

Folks with a Maranui background have done it again. This time in the Rowing Club on the Petone waterfront.

Like Maranui, the downstairs remains the club while the upstairs is now a funky diner. You can feel the Maranui vibe throughout, from the art and signage, to the writing on the stairs, the jazzy ceiling, the menu design and the old collectables (including 4 pinball machines, and a delightful set of scales that start at 12 stone!).

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They also have a coffee roasting section where local roasters Good Fortune Coffee recently became the first roaster in the country to receive a living wage accreditation, and plan to extend the living wage accreditation to all cafe staff over time.

To highlight the amount of coffee sold to support fair wages for the growers, there’s a prominent counter showing the number of cups sold since they opened only a couple of months ago. Look at those those numbers – we clearly love our coffee!

Petone coffee1Petone coffee2

The food is diner and seashore classic, with a little Mexican thrown in. Items such as surf’n’turf, cheeseburger, fish tacos, vegetable quesadilla, a truckers breakfast or dinner, a range of hot dogs and more.

Between four of us enjoyed a hot smoked salmon pide with capers, mascarpone and chives; crunchy fish tacos with slaw and jalapeño sauce; the cheeseburger with handcut fries; the vege quesadilla; key lime pie; and a lazy berry sundae. Everything hit the mark nicely as we’d expect from this team, other than the prosciutto, gorgonzola, caramelised onion and mozzarella pide we’d started with, which was a bit heavy and greasy. All other dishes, however, had a lightness that left one well satisfied but not overloaded.

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Being persons of mature persuasions, the sundae artfully dripping over the side made us think of milkbars and the Fonz, and the use of frozen berries on top was noted as a clever texture and flavour move.

You’ll find separate breakfast, lunch, dinner, weekend and kids menus, an interesting range of sodas and shakes, and a fair selection of wine, beer and other tipples.

The views over the harbour are pretty darned fine, the environment is warm and welcoming, and you won’t need to consult with the bank manager to enjoy an outing here.

Daytimes Monday-Thursday, day and night Friday to Sunday.

160 The Esplanade, Petone.

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