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 “Wellington”

Pomelo surprise

I had heard good things about Pomelo Kitchen and Bar  on Oriental Parade, but when we finally got there this weekend, it totally exceeded expectations.

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The views, of course, are fantastic from those giant windows looking directly across the harbour and city, and the decor is light and fresh.

Co-owners Lily and Laili Chin started from a takeaway background in the Hutt Valley (among other things), and have obviously been hiding their light under a bushel.

The food very much made me think of Comes and Goes at Petone, both in terms of quality and presentation. Being ‘pan-Asian’, the ingredients draw from many cultures – Thai yellow curry, Vietnamese tiger prawn salad, Chinese pork dumplings, and much more.

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The signature soft shell crab with coriander, chilli mayo and slaw was a first for the chip fiend, and he thoroughly enjoyed the delicate flavours of the crab on its own, as well as enhanced with the chilli mayo.

The caramelised eggplant with tamarind, Sichuan pepper and sesame seeds had a very thin crispy batter, without any inner sog, and was nicely enhanced by the sweet sauce and sesame seeds.

The slow braised Angus beef ribs fell off the bone, the yellow curry with lotus chips was the best I think I’ve ever had, and the spiced poached pear with coconut custard was a light fresh finish.

Every dish supported the main ingredient to shine, and was melt-in-the-mouth where it should be, lightly crispy where it should be, firm where it should be, and fresh. Even the hand cut kumara fries were an excellent showcase of kumara (and rather fab dipped in the yellow curry!). Impressive.

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There’s a rather cute wee bar down the back, with a lit marble base and wooden slab top, and a couple of wee tables for a quieter eat if you fancy (the main room is pretty noisy with flat surfaces, especially when there’s a big group celebrating nearby).

The drinks include a range of specialty green teas in addition to the normal teas and coffees (Yame, Chiran, Shira ori), a chili hot chocolate, a sticky chai latte, a large list of non-alcs (including specialty sodas and kombucha), some interesting-sounding cocktails (the Hulk, the Drunken Buddha), champagne from Champagne, a good range of NZ wines, local craft beers, a sake, and a couple of spirits. Phew!

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I think I’ve found a new favourite for evening wanders.

From 5.30pm Tuesday to Sunday.

232 Oriental Parade (above Beach Babylon)


Wicked Wildfire

We recently tried out the new Wellington Wildfire on Tory Street, spawned from the Auckland mothership.

And Oh. My. God. So much food. All the New Years resolutions about portion control went totally out the window in a big way. Wicked, wicked Wildfire.

Wildfire carving

You can read all the details here, but suffice it to say:

  • Its Brazilian BBQ, so expect a lot of meat (although they do have a whole separate vegetarian menu which I’m going to try next time)
  • Its kinda like yum cha where they keep coming to your table with skewers of different proteins and carving off whatever you fancy (with unlimited salad and roasties on the side, and that’s after intro tapas and tasters!).
  • The variety of protein will astound you – everything from several types of beef, pork, seafood, lamb, chicken, and on it went….
  • It’s a full-your-boots kinda place so plan to be there for a while and don’t rush it
  • There’s no shortage of liquid accompaniments to suit all tastes
  • Go with a group for best fun (it’s possibly not your intimate first-date experience)
  • Fast for the whole day prior.

Wildfire signature Pushka.jpg

7 days, noon til late.

60 Tory Street.




The Old Quarter

I finally got to The Old Quarter on Dixon Street, and rather liked it.

Old Quarter decor.jpg

A new Vietnamese eatery, The Old Quarter reminded me of Mr Go’s in many ways (decor), and of Dragonfly in others (food).

With dishes ranging from classic and not-so-classic bao buns (five spice roasted pork, salt and pepper soft shell crab), to nearly a dozen share plates (son-in-law eggs, salt and pepper squid), to salads (green papaya, orange roasted duck) or more individual meals (lemongrass grilled pork with spring rolls, green vegetarian/vegan curry), there’s definitely something for everyone here.

The fried fish in the apple salad was light and tender without any hint of grease or fishiness and was a nice contrast to the crisp apple and herbs, the baos were light but still slightly tacky (in the nicest possible sense!) and generously filled, and the peking cashew duck was tender and flavourful.

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Of course the chip fiend couldn’t help but point out that the website on the wall hangings was misspelt, as was the ‘wrapping’ leaves of the Crying Tiger. Perhaps the legacy of chip withdrawal?

The drinks offer up one of each wine varietal (two pinot noirs), a bunch of cocktails with suitably intriguing names (Chai to say No, Blushing Dragon), and a scattering of beers and cider.

Old Quarter drinks list.jpg

The service was friendly and personable, and I’m most definitely heading there for another round soon.

39b Dixon Street


Fortune Favours

It’s taken me a while to decide if Fortune Favours (the bold, the brave, the lucky etc…) ticks all my boxes after a couple of mediocre food experiences on first visits (although the ambience, decor and beers were all good). However I feel like they’ve found their groove now, and they definitely have oodles of Wellington character.

Fortune favours

Downstairs is a darker and cooler environment, while upstairs is light bright and full of brewing equipment, decks and leaners. I like that they’ve taken on an old furniture-makers building and retained the character and history of it, melding nicely into the Leeds Street laneway vibe.

I also like that one of their features is cheese and beer matching – a little different to the norm. With many cheese dishes on the menu, and a dedicated meat and cheese bar downstairs.

Having tried a few dishes, I find the share boards to be the way to go here, with the ability to choose your own meats and cheeses.

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With Shannon Thorpe (ex-Good George Brewing) partnered with the resources of the Wellington Hospitality Group (Munchen, Bethel Woods, Coene’s, Gaslight and loads of others), and local brewer Dale Cooper on board (ex-Black Dog), you won’t go thirsty here any time soon. And can probably expect some interesting brews over time.

I enjoyed a sip of all the beers on the paddle (yep worlds most useless drinker!), then settled on a dark beer, whose name totally escapes me at the moment, but was light while still having a rich flavour.

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Definitely worth a visit, and particularly fun in a group.

7 days from 11am til late.

7 Leeds Street


Black Coffee at Newtown

I finally got into Black Coffee at Newtown. What an awesome (and very Wellie) place!

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The coffee is Havana, and the food ranges from toasties to ginger ‘dead’ men if you’re just after a sweet bite with your coffee.

There are a couple of pinball machines, ever-changing art exhibitions, a small music ‘shop’ at the rear, and oodles of groove. A place one could wile away a good chunk of time I should think.

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There’s not really much more to say other than get thyself to Newtown.

Monday to Saturday daytimes.

133 Riddiford Street, Newtown.

La Petite French grocery

If you’re needing a French treat, pop into the new La Petite France ‘grocery’ on Blair Street.

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Olivier (properietor) and Tom (a local chef) present all manner of French cheeses, salamis, wines, cider, crusty baguettes, snails, oils, condiments, chocolates, and much more.

95% of their product is of the French persuasion, with the other 5% a wider European style. They also support local businesses by getting their cheese and salami’s from Le March Francais, and baguettes from the Shelley Bay Baker.

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You’ll find brands like Guérande, AL’Olivier, Connétable, Favols, Rougié, Mathez, and Goulibeur. And Olivier and Tom are more than happy to help if the fantastic choices feel a little overwhelming.

I will definitely be back here soon for more treats.

La Petite Olivier & Tom

Tuesday to Sunday daytimes.

4 Blair Street

Raglan Roast Pizza

Raglan Roast in Holland Street snapped up chef Matteo Ughi when Osteria del Toro closed its doors, and as a result, now offer up tasty wood-fired pizzas.

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Matteo uses a northern Italian dough recipe that is proofed differently, and cooked at a much lower 350deg (usually 500deg), giving a very thin light base that stays fresh and crisp longer, working well for deliveries and takeaways too (crafty devils! – check them out on Delivereasy).

In between pizzas, he also bakes all the breads used by Raglan Roast in their counter food, or for you to take home.

The space is very Wellington – off the beaten track and suitably quirky in vibe and decor – and the service was prompt and friendly.

The house chilli and garlic oils drizzled over our smoked chicken, jalapeno, mozarella and pepper pizza gave a delightful edge. And yes, the mozzarella was suitably finger-licking stretchy and stringy.

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You can also finish off with a sweet pizza – strawberry, blueberry or banana (I’m eyeing up the blueberry for next time) – or other sweet treat made in-house.

Daytimes til 5pm Monday/Tuesday, and 9.30pm Wednesday to Sunday.

12 Holland Street

Pravda turns steakhouse at night

Pravda has always been a favourite of mine for daytime eating. The lovely high ceilings, spacious feel, excellent service, and quality food (and will remain so).

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However, they’ve now turned a little Jervois Steakhouse in the evenings (the same Nourish Group of restaurants), with no fewer than 13 different cuts of meat available. Carnivore heaven.

But never fear if you’re not carnivorous (or just not a red meat eater), there are still plenty of other dishes available and a full separate vegetarian menu.

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The highlights of the opening night for me were the truffle brioche-crumbed asparagus, the Pravda onion rings, the seared kingfish, the Japanese wagyu, the house Yorkshire puds, and the green spanner crab and ricotta risotto. We didn’t make it to dessert (eyes and stomach not being able to negotiate a truce), but I’m certainly eyeing up several for future visits.

You can read more details here of the first night experience, or hop along yourself to check it out.

107 Customhouse Quay



Grand Century surprise

A friend who knows the owners of Grand Century on Tory Street told me about their refresh, with a more contemporary decor (I believe there is a little more art to come for the side wall), and a new smart chef from China.

Grand Cent decor

So we toddled along this week for dinner, and I have to say, it well exceeded my expectations. We shared a range of dishes, all of which were beautifully presented, executed with a light touch (not my experience generally with Chinese restaurants), and clearly had used quality ingredients.

The crispy prawns were lightly battered, and I learnt that you can eat the whole thing, tail and all (in fact I enjoyed the tail more than the head!); the whole blue cod was tender with gentle herby notes (beware the odd bone); the rice-wrapped sesame parcels were sweet, crispy and moreish; the orange beef satisfactorily sticky and tender with touches of crispness; and the deep fried pork had a light batter and almost melted in the mouth.

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And then onto dessert. Oh my god.

Caramelised kumara beneath a tree of spun sugar, with the chunks of kumara dipped in iced water to enhance the texture just before eating (and yes this dessert is on their menu as a standard option – done with either apple or kumara).

I would never in a million years have expected this in a Chinese restaurant. And I can’t say enough about the uniqueness, finesse and execution of this dish; Judy has netted herself one smart chef indeed (and nice to have a dessert that isn’t creamy and over-rich).

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We washed all this down with a rather nice Mt Difficulty Chardonnay, and finished off with a round of liqueurs (as you do right?).

I’ve also heard a sneaky rumour that the new chef does a mean Peking Duck for groups, but one needs to request it a few days in advance, as its not a standard offering.

I was very impressed with the step up that Grand Century have taken, and intend to take my dinner club back soon.

84 Tory Street




Sweet Vanilla Kitchen, Lower Hutt

OMG, here’s another ‘how did I not know of this place’..

After shopping for motorbike gear we needed rejuvenation and found it right here at Sweet Vanilla Kitchen in Lower Hutt (that’s the excuse for the caramel macadamia slice anyway!).

Sweet Vanilla exterior

SVK is found on a suburban corner in a quaint wee villa, and is totally deserving of its online reviews, and accolade as the 2017 winner of Hellman’s best suburban cafe crown.

The brunches were a sight to behold, as well as being very nicely executed with fresh and tasty components. The banana bread with seasonal fruits was light and very generous (nice thick slices which didn’t sog or sag under the weight of the fruit), and the dukkah and crushed avo on toast with poached egg was also nicely done (although the chip fiend noted the avo was more mashed than crushed, Mr Pedantic!).

Sweet Vanilla bana bread fruit

Sweet Vanilla avo dukkah

The cake cabinet is a sight to behold, and it took me some time to decide what delight to enjoy, and when I couldn’t, took home the rhubarb butterscotch cake for breakfast the next day as well (be rude not to right?).

Between here and Comes and Goes, I’m never going anywhere else for delicious brunches in the Petone/Lower Hutt area.

Sweet Vanilla cara macad

Daytimes from 8am, 7 days per week (and yes, you can book).

49 Pretoria Street, Lower Hutt



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