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”

Coco and the Roxy turn five

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

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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.

 

 

 

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Arthurs re-opens

Arthurs up Cuba Street has just re-opened under new ownership.

The decor is now sleek and simple, there’s a wee cake cabinet up behind the counter (with strawberry milkshake cupcakes and straws when I visited, courtesy of a cup-cake fan in the kitchen), and Schoc hot chocolates featured.

They’re currently operating with a small menu and daytime hours until settled in, and then will extend both.

At an 11am brunch we spread ourselves around coffees, a geranium and orange hot chocolate, a cayenne and cheddar scone, baked eggs benedict, avocado on toast with slow roasted tomatoes and rocket, and ricotta/basil ravioli topped with zucchini ribbons.

The presentation was pretty, with herb garnishes on most dishes, and despite the eggs being a little firmer than anticipated (potentially continued cooking in their dish after serving), the ravioli pockets needing a smidge more seasoning, and the scone being fairly solid, there was definitely some finesse around many of the components, and the flavours were well balanced in all dishes. The slow roasted tomatoes on the avo dish were outstanding, as was the hot chocolate.

I totally enjoyed having a mug of nicely stretched and foamy milk to dunk and swirl my Schoc chocolate stick (a good way to control the strength if so desired), including extracting it every now and then to slurp the melty gooey goodness (well why wouldn’t you?).

The coffees were Flight, and well made, and the service welcoming and personable. I also had a wee chuckle at the kids drink list including ‘Thomas the tank engine’ apple juice, ‘Minions’ orange, ‘Peppa pig’ strawberry and ‘Dora the Explorer’ blackcurrant.

I will watch their development with interest.

272 Cuba Street.

 

 

 

Pinot May – Tequila Joe’s

2016 is the inaugural Catch Pinot event, courtesy of the Visa Wellington on a Plate team. To celebrate the pinots that come out of the Wairarapa region, restaurants across the region have free reign to match them to whatever food they like. To be as creative as they fancy.

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Given I like the unusual and slightly out-of-the-box, my first stop was Tequila Joe’s (more below), but some of the others that take my fancy are:

  • Afrika’s crocodile tail gumbo – crocodile meat soaked in lime juice and grilled, with wok-fried maize and salad. With a Pencarrow Pinot Noir.
  • Coco at the Roxy’s glass of Paddy Borthwick Falloon Block Pinot Noir 2014 with a culinary cocktail bringing together a new way to experience Pinot Noir – a modern fun cocktail experience with molecular gastronomy and a side serving of childhood nostalgia (intriguing!).
  • The Larder’s duck confit with pomegranate molasses, confit gizzards, roasted cauliflower, liver and chestnuts. With a Porters Estate Pinot Noir.
  • One80’s masala lamb cheeks, sago sandige, and mango mint chutney. With a Russian Jack Pinot Noir.

So Tequila Joe’s. A fun Mexican taverna and cocktail bar near the corner of Vivian and Tory. I’d spotted their maytag fries (never heard of them) with Applewood smoked bacon (ditto) and exclusive gorgonzola bleu cheese sauce, matched with a Paulownia Estate Rose 2014. Definitely in the I-can’t-imagine-how-that’s-going-to-work category.

The Rose was so delicious on its own, I damn near hoovered it all up before the dish arrived – off-dry and with plenty of body and flavour, so a more intense Rose than I’d expected – but I did manage to control myself and enjoyed it with the dish as well (and the ‘Death Rides a Pale Horse’ blonde ale we sampled was pretty fine too!).

The maytag fries are a crispy waffle cut fry imported from the USA (took a month to get here), as is the Applewood smoked bacon, while the bleu cheese sauce is made just for TJ’s. Because the Rose was richer than expected, and the smoked bacon and bleu cheese more subtle than expected, the flavours actually met and melded well. The waffle-cut chips gave great texture and crunch against the softer bacon, with the only issue being the bottom chips sogging before getting to them (I can confirm the plate was clean at the end though!).

And it would have been rude not to finish with the recommended apple cinnamon churros, right? Also light, crispy and flavourful. And refreshingly different to the norm.

So there you have it, a match that I thought couldn’t possibly work.

Here’s the full line-up of offerings to whet your palate further.

 

 

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.

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Mirabelle in Carterton

Another on my keep-missing-it list was Cafe Mirabelle at Carterton. I’d never managed to go past when it was open, but finally, success! Twice in fact, go figure.

Mirabelle is run by French husband and wife team Megan (the magic in the kitchen) and Olivier (the FOH maestro) Rochery. The food philosophy is simple, hearty and unpretentious, like dining at home in France. And what would French dining be without wine, beer and liqueurs? You’ll never need to find out here.

One visit was for a light brekkie, so I made a beeline for the pastries. They all looked delightful and beautifully hand-made, and in fact the apple danish I settled on might be the best one I’ve ever had. The pastry was light and crispy, the apple generous and beautifully layered, and both the custard beneath and glaze on top just the right hint of sweetness without overkill. I’m still revelling in the memory.

Mirabelle apple danish

The other visit was lunch so I decided on the macaroni cheese with bacon from the menu board. It was a close run thing with the goat cheese salad, but since it was a slightly cool day, and I was interested to see how Mirabelle would deliver the dish, the mac cheese won. And yes it did arrive French style, topped with cheese, pepper (noticeable), a dose of melted butter, bread for dipping, and bubbly hot grilled top.

A delicious and unctuous dish (love that word!). All for $12.50. Excellent value.

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A place not to be missed if you can time it right.

Wednesday to Sunday daytimes (9-4 weekdays, 10-3 weekends), dinner Friday and Saturday nights (bookings recommended).

31 High North Street, Carterton

Blue Belle at Island Bay

I went on a long walk around the city yesterday and found myself at the Blue Belle Cafe in Island Bay.

Online reviews talk a lot about their pies, and they do have a few, but their cabinet fare looked appealing too, as well as there being a menu of typical breakfasts, Mexican dishes, burgers and fries.

Blule Belle busker

The decor is funky, there are tables out the front for sunny days (or on this particular occasion, to be sung to!), and the service was friendly.

To cover all bases (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it), I decided on something savoury  and something sweet. Since the pies are talked about I chose a vegetable korma. The pastry was indeed light and flaky, and the filling pleasingly korma-ish, however I didn’t find any chunks of vegetables as I’d expected. Maybe they were pureed into the sauce given it had a reasonably thick texture.

The custard square was the standout of the two, again with flaky pastry (someone knows what they’re doing with pastry), a slightly lemon custard filling that was soft but not a squirter, and a sweet passionfruit icing. Overall a sweet number, with a good balance of flavours and textures.

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I’m keen to come back and try the generously filled paninis, and the tasty-looking salads, or maybe even the pulled pork ciabatta with cajun kumara fries. So another place on the ‘repeat’ list. If only there were more than 24 hours in the day….

Daytimes 7 days.

148 The Parade, Island Bay.

 

 

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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The Clareville Bakery, a must do

To begin our carbo loading for a Sunday half marathon vines walk, we decided on the Clareville Bakery for Saturday breakfast (followed by a Poppies lunch and a Medici dinner of course!).

These guys have won a number of awards in recent years (2014 pie of the year with their lamb and kumara pie, joint 2015 rural cafe of the year, and 2015 overall VWOAP Mindfood Producer winner for their lavash-style crackers), and just keep on creating.

10am was a bit early for pie, so I made a beeline for the hot cross doughnut (seasonally appropriate and delish), while others had a banana custard donut (delightful but very squirty) and chicken walnut blue cheese turkish (also rated highly).

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Rosie and Michael and their team are super hot on fresh, hand made and artisan methods, and make all their own pastries, breads (own natural sourdough starter), jams, jellies, sauces, the aforementioned lavash-style crackers, and more (check out their gallery pics here). As well as cabinet and counter food, you’ll find a range of brunch and lunch menu options Monday through Saturday daytimes.

On Wednesday evenings they do dinner and live music, and they also cater events (do these guys ever sleep??). There’s a range of nooks and crannies both inside among the simple white and timber decor (check out the building history on the wall), or out in the garden if a nice day.

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I’ve found some of their goodies on the counter at Poquito in the CBD recently, and shall keep my eyes out for where else they might supply, but if you’re in the Wairarapa Monday to Saturday daytimes, you should definitely head straight to the source.

3340 SH2 Claireville.

 

 

 

Annam Vietnamese and Hillside suburban bliss

A couple of places I’ve reviewed for KNOW Wellington in recent months in case you missed them over there:

Annam – the re-model of Arbitrageur into a joint venture by Chris Green and Nam relocated from the Willis Street Village – French-influenced Vietnamese street food and cocktails in a funky casual Indochine setting. No bookings, expect to wave down a staff member when you need one, and enjoy true subtle-flavoured Vietnamese food  – check out the review here.

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Hillside Kitchen and Cellar on the corner of Tinakori Road and Hill Street – blackboard plates and a range of scones during the day, $55 or $65 set dinners at night with wine, craft beer or non-alcoholic drink matching options. Ever-changing, fresh and interesting, all outstanding, and much made in-house – check out the review here.

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