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 “vegan”

New vegan eats and a lightly 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

 

 

 

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

New vegan eating in the city

There’s a growing number of vegan options in the city that’ll meet your needs – morning, noon and night.

Boquita taco shop recently opened on Kent Terrace, with fresh, local, seasonal and vegan food.

Being the baby sister of La Boca Loca, these guys make everything themselves, including the tortillas, and totally know what they’re doing.

boquita-tacos-hero

I’ve also been chatting with Amber Sturtz of Easy as Kai – a one-woman band bringing us Austin, Texas inspired tacos with the same focus on fresh, local, seasonal, vegetarian and vegan. And I noticed she does a vegan coconut custard pie among her sweet American-style offerings.

You can check out her wares at the Frank Kitts Underground Market on Saturdays, and many of our street festivals (Island Bay, Newtown and Aro Valley Fair). Or have them delivered to your workplace on Tuesdays, Fridays and alternate Wednesdays to Weta (next delivery date shows at the bottom of the website page). Couldn’t be easier.

easy-as-kai-tofu-chorizo-vegan

And being summer, you shouldn’t miss out on cool, refreshing ‘ice creams’ either, as many sorbets and sorbetto’s in the city are vegan (vegetable binders rather than egg-based).

Case in point is Carello del Gelato on Oriental Parade.

They pride themselves on having a range of sorbets always available, all with fulsome flavours (yep, there was definitely a bunch of feijoas in the feijoa sorbet!), and nearly all vegan. Including a specialty dark chocolate that would surely satisfy any craving.

They also do soy-sorbet shakes, sorbet sundaes, and their own Mr Pops ice blocks, which include fruity vegan flavours like bursting blackberry, zesty lemon, and juicy apple. There’s also a couple of non-vegan flavours like flat white or creamy sea salted caramel, the caramel so unlike a traditional ice block that it felt like I was eating gelato on a stick.

carello-feijoa-sorbet

As well as their groovy little tasting room alongside Beach Babylon, you’ll see their bike around the waterfront in summer, and the Carello name popping up during events like Wellington on a Plate. And you can still get their 2016 WOAP dessert burger at the Oriental cafe if you missed out during the festival. Nice.

There’s also a bunch of flavours in one litre pottles for take-home, so there’s no way you’ll go short of dessert with Carello del Gelato on the job.

carello-lscape

 

Higher Taste, Midnight Espresso, Southern Cross Bar, Loretta, Olive Cafe, Maranui Cafe and Sweet Release are other established places that also spring to mind with vegan eats.

And I recently had a very pleasant vegan shepherds pie at the Glasshouse Restaurant at Thorndon Rydges – flavourful veg and chickpeas with a satisfying density not unlike the meaty version. Nicely done guys.

gh-vegan-shep-pie-2

And watch out for a new plant-based cafe at Lyall Bay called The Botanist due to open anytime soon…

Phew!

Delicious Deluxe

I’ve been away for a few weeks, and now ready to rock the last quarter of the year (how on earth did we get to October so fast?).

Given Deluxe Cafe on Kent Terrace is one of my favourite cafes, it wasn’t a surprise that my feet took me there on my first morning back.

I really enjoy their funky atmosphere, fresh and tasty vegan and vegetarian food (and a little for carnivores), excellent service, and ever-changing art – currently Stu Morris. And their great coffee, with a friend telling me they’re one of the few places who can make it properly hot for him.

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Given I was doing a sconealicious post for Word on the Street, I made a beeline for Deluxe’s three cheese and buttermilk – crispy exteriored and tenderly cheesy inside, as worthy as their orange and date.

I thought I’d better take a wee treat home for the chip fiend too since he was back at work without the extra day’s grace, so snaffled one of the appealing-looking hazelnut, spelt and orange cookies. Dense and flavourful, it also went west pretty fast.

They do lots of salads, wraps, quiches, soups, sweets and slices (very similar in style to Midnight Espresso in Cuba Street, and Maranui Cafe at Lyall Bay – long ago connections), but don’t have a kitchen, so cabinet items only.

Deluxe is a Wellington must-do. And when you do, take home one of their delicious shortcake slices for dessert as well, mmmmm.

7 days, daytimes from 7am weekdays, 8am weekends.

10 Kent Terrace

 

 

Veg and vegan at the Cross

Although the Southern Cross Bar and Restaurant has meaty stone grills and a roast dinner on Sundays and Wednesdays, their strength is the ever-increasing range of interesting vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan offerings (and the fabulous sun-drenched beer garden in summer).

On my most recent visit I had a Buddha Bowl of roasted spiced carrot and mint, wild rice and cranberry pilaf, toasted chickpeas (was a little wary about that component when ordering), spinach leaves, and a creamy almond dressing. It could have been up-scaled with Zany Zeus halloumi, chilli soy tofu, garlic chilli prawns or spiced chicken, but I decided I’d go for the basic and see what I thought.

Sthn X budda bowl

It really was excellent. The almond sauce was a nice conductor, and the toasted chickpeas were deliciously textured and light (not the dry dusty journey I’d expected). After sampling all the components, I ended up combining the the dish into a delicious mixed salad. Satisfying and healthy, nice.

I noticed they have quite the cake cabinet too now (if you don’t eat your chickpeas, you can’t have pudding!), so its also an easy place to slide by for a coffee and cake. Especially on peaceful weekdays. With at least two vegan options available always.

Sthn X cabinet

The Cross is all about different nooks and crannies, casual and easy dining, and suitable for everyone from families to students to lunch-time workers dashing in and out, a weekend BBQ in the sunny courtyard, or a large event. And excellent for those with vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free requirements.

There’s easily another dozen things I’m eyeing up, including:

  • the almond pina colada smoothie
  • the almond porridge topped with caramelised bananas, walnuts and lightly toasted coconut
  • the mushroom and halloumi Aro burger
  • the halloumi stone grill with mediterranean vegetables, beetroot and sunflower seed dip, and roasted kumara
  • the vegan cashew mac’n’cheese
  • Spanish baked tofu
  • butter and sage ricotta gnocchi
  • Mediterranean lentils with grilled veggies, toasted pistachios and crispy tofu or marinated and baked feta
  • I could go on and on…..

SthnX salt car ccake

I also might or might not have checked out the salted caramel cheesecake on a previous occasion. Somewhere along the line I’ve lost the side picture which shows that this beauty stood about 2 inches high, but you’ll get the idea. Rich, moorish and very memorable. My advice – share with a friend.

And do have a look at their Wellington on a Plate offerings too, again interesting vegetarian and vegan.

Sthn X night decor 2

7 days and nights.

39 Abel Smith Street

 

 

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