foodiegemsofwellie

For worthy eating and drinking experiences around Wellington, NZ (and the greater region) – you can also catch Heather out and about hosting Zest Food Tours around the city…

Archive for the tag “fine dining”

Stunning Hiakai

Oh. My. God.

The new Hiakai at Mt Cook is stunning, and blows the rest of Wellington’s dining scene totally out of the water. And I don’t say that lightly.

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Based in a relatively nondescript modernised old villa, you will enjoy some history on the ground floor before making your way upstairs to the dining space. I’m not saying any more about that so I don’t spoil the experience and dichotomies present.

Then menu is chosen at booking time (how many courses and whether you want the wine or very inventive non-alcoholic matches) so there is nothing to do on the night but sit back and enjoy. Beware if you cancel too late or fail to show you will be paying for the experience anyway, and I have absolutely no problem with that given the level at which they’re delivering. They also cater to dietary challenges with advance notice and discussion.

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This is a journey through Maori and Pacific history in terms of ingredients and food evolution, thoughtfully designed and shared in detail by the servers for every single dish, including the first snacks. The only comparisons at this level I can think of are Steirereck in Vienna and Stone Barns at Blue Hills Farm out of New York city, both world top 50 restaurants. Truly.

We chose not to do the wine matches, but instead sampled a couple of drinks from the menu – wines for the rest of the team, and an excellent pea soda for yours truly.

I’m simply going to let the pictures and their captions tell the story for you.

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Every dish had us thinking they’d reached the pinnacle until the very last dish arrived (and there’s a couple of snack dishes I’ve missed photographing given the haze of deliciousness I was in).

The only teeny tiny thing I could fault was my pet hate of no fork with dessert and having to chase food around the plate to get it up.

But overall, I would have sold my first-born (luckily there isn’t one or it would have been the chip fiend’s first-born) or been happy for them to charge my credit card with virtually any price for this experience.

If you want to read a little more about Monique Fiso (a local Porirua lass), check out these articles from Viva and Stuff.

Groups of 6pax maximum given the style of dining, Wednesday to Saturday.

Book well ahead.

40 Wallace Street

 

New vegan eats and a slightly 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

 

 

 

Long live Logan Brown

LB dessert
Logan Brown have made a few changes in recent months to ensure there’s something for everyone.

It’s still a quality delicious experience, whether you’re doing a full evening of dining, a pre-show graze, dessert and cocktail, or specialty Jazz brunch.

Full detail here.

A Wharekauhau long lunch

For a luxurious experience without the need for a second mortgage, a long Sunday lunch at Wharekauhau is a feast for all the senses.

Wharekauhau decorA three course lunch with glass of Te Kairanga sauvignon blanc (swapped for a delicious Te Kairanga 2005 off-dry Riesling after a to-die-for Lustaw Pedro Xenemez sweet sherry starter for her, and followed by an Awatere Pinot Noir well matched to the beef for him),
Wharekauhau tablecomplimentary salmon amuse bouche, quality settings and service, in a private dining room overlooking Palliser Bay, was $105 each after the entertainment card discount (the starting point was $110 each before extra wines and discount).

Wharekauhau soupCompared to many dinners in Wellington recently with smaller courses,
shorter timeframes and not dissimilar costs, it stands head and shoulders above as value for money.

The wines were all of excellent quality, with the Foleys (owners) having ownership in Te Kairanga and Vavasour, and those wines featuring prominently beside a nice range of other NZ and Californian wines.  Wharekauhau lambI see in the media recently the Foleys are looking to acquire a few more Marlborough vineyards to add to the stable.

The menu provided three choices for each course, focused on locally grown or caught, and seasonal – their own vegetables, beef and lamb; Palliser Bay octopus and snapper.  The soup (butternut pumpkin, apple, parsnip with fresh horseradish) was crisp and refreshing, the lamb (roasted, with coffee, eggplant Wharekauhau dessertand jus) was tender, and the creme brûlée (vanilla with shortbread) rich and filling.

We also scored a complimentary cheese board by virtue of some mix-up in the kitchen.  Again, very good quality and well presented (and no dinner required for us that night!).

We were invited to explore the lodge and surrounds (indoor covered pool with bathrooms of elegance, fully equipped gymnasium, all weather tennis court, groomed croquet and petanque lawn, shady and pleasant pathways) and did so between mains and dessert (good suggestion!).
Wharekauhau pool

The lodge has a number of upstairs rooms for games, reading, leisure and socialising, all with different moods and decor, so one could easily find a spot that resonated.

Oh, and year on year on year lamb and beef award winners. What more can one say?

Three hours of feeding the senses for a delicious birthday treat -simply divine.

Turn south down Western Lake Road at the southern end of Featherston, and keep going for about 40km.

Wharekauhau pool towel

Boulcott Street Bistro & winebar

As our ‘local’, we don’t end up coming here very often.  The quality and pricing make Boulcott Street Bistro more of an experience rather than just dinner out.

Rex Morgan of former Citron fame (we still mourn the passing) is behind the wheel here, and so the food is of the fine dining ilk, set in the lovely old gothic-architectured Plimmer House historic villa.

You can’t book here, other than large groups or for the private room upstairs, so it is strictly a first come, first serve basis.  They are very happy to accommodate you in their bar until a table is free (a cunning plan I’m sure), so you maybe don’t want to be on a time schedule if you really want to dine here.

The service is as polished here as you’d expect (other than a smidgen slow to clear during the peak 7.00 – 7.30pm arrival rush), and the food as good – accepting that you do need to open your wallet and go through the menu.

We were delivered rounds of soft home baked bread and butter to start, before well- presented entrees of beetroot, goat cheese and walnut Napolean (stack) with citrus and manuka honey dressing (very pretty and pink, and not for the girl at the table as you’d think…), and a pan fried duck fritter with iceberg and vinaigrette (complete in its own mini cast iron frypan – very smart).

For mains I couldn’t go past the house-made spaghetti in a spinach and basil sauce with roasted butternut, zucchini and tomatoes, and he (surprise, surprise – not!) chose the grilled sirloin and braised smoked shin with green beans and duck fried gourmet potatoes.

The spaghetti was deliciously green (in both look and taste) and the smoked shin definitely smokey.  All were cooked to the right done-ness and were sufficiently filling without further sides. Interestingly one of the sides was creamy corn, not something you see every day in restaurants. And all accompanied by a pleasant Marlborough Envoy gewurzt that started out mildly spicy but warmed to slightly floral. Intriguing.

We skipped the desserts, feeling fairly nicely already, and departed on the long journey home (well it is uphill!) in time for one’s favourite tv show.

Would I come back?  Definitely yes for a nice occasion (make sure you take your entertainment book gold card).

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