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 “Wellington”

Black Coffee at Newtown

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

Black coffee decor.jpg

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.

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La Petite French grocery

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

La Petite exterior.jpg

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.

Raglan pizza board.jpg

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.

Raglan pizza sm cix jalapeno pepper.jpg

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).

Pravda decor.jpg

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).

Grand Cent caram kum dessert.jpg

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

 

 

Pickle & Pie – a NY-style deli in Wellie

Pickle & Pie has just opened at 2 Lombard Street (the Civic Square end of Lombard Lane), with chef Tim Tracey at the helm.

Pickle Pie decor

They have a lovely large sunny space, with outside tables, and eventually, a grassy park out front. So don’t be put off by all the current fencing to get there.

Tim has always wanted a NY-style deli, and so finally has his chance. Opening from 7am to 7pm, the counter food changes throughout the day to match the kind of hunger we have on, while the menu has set breakfast and lunch timings. And there’s a whole wall of pickled goodies you can take home while you’re at it.

Pickle Pie menu

Because I was there for a late breakfast, I decided to try out the sourdough crumpets with tamarillo, blackberry, vanilla mascarpone and fennel syrup. I enjoyed the sour notes coming through the nicely balanced sweet and sour fruit compote, rounded off with the creamy mascarpone. I don’t recall much in the way of fennel syrup, but the overall mouthfeel and flavour balance was good.

Pickle pie crumpets

Had it been afternoon, I’m sure I would have made a bee-line for the beautiful New York cheesecakes on the counter, or perhaps one of their house pretzel and peanut cookies. I know I’m certainly going back for a hot chocolate or mocha at some point to try out the Pickle & Pie marshmallows that come with them!

They also do take-home meals later in the day if you fancy a treat without cooking, so they’ve got your day totally covered at Pickle & Pie.

7am – 7pm Monday to Saturday

2 Lombard Street

Pickle Pie dinners.jpg

Gipsy Kitchen comes to town

For CBD lovers of Gipsy Kitchen, your prayers have been answered. The Gipsy has taken up a spot in Jessie street opposite the Il Casino apartments, operating daytimes til 3pm.

The very groovy exterior sets the tone from the get-go, continuing inside with luxurious wall panelling, funky decorations, and plenty of quirk.

Gipsy exterior

The food is the quality we know and love from Gipsy, ranging from pastries to salads, to quiches, to lunch rolls, pies and sweets. And they have their heavenly (vegan) seed bread available for takeaway too.

I haven’t had a rhubarb scone fix for a while, but alas there were none, so I settled for bread and butter pudding for breakfast instead. Soft, moist and flavourful, I was sorry when it was gone.

We didn’t have coffee on this visit, but there was a steady stream of locals popping in for theirs, so we take that as a good sign (especially with Prefab, L’affare and Moore Wilson all within a stones throw). The herbal teas we did enjoy were nicely presented and real, not teabags.

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There’s only seating for about 12, so either pick your time or be prepared to take away. And do have a wee peek in the fridge of deli products available too.

They utilise a wood fired oven, and say the may well run into evenings as summer appears.

Amen!

37 Jessie Street

 

 

 

WOAP 2017, here we go….

It’s that time again. The loose-waisted pants are out of the wardrobe. And life is managed by spreadsheet for 15 days.

Aside from just the sheer frivolity of it all though, it’s worth thinking about the theme put to chefs and mixologists – this year, celebrating food as part of New Zealand’s culture – and how you score your eats and drinks:

  • Celebrating the role that food plays alongside other cultural forms such as art, music and creative expression
  • What is New Zealand’s contemporary cuisine?
  • What role does our multicultural society play in our cuisine?
Ghouse pork puha etc

Glasshouse Restaurant’s pork, puha and paua on smokey hangi kumara hash

This is how mystery judges apportion their scores:

  • 15% service (knowledge, timeliness)
  • 15% presentation
  • 15% use of local ingredients
  • 5% beer, tapas or local beverage matching
  • 5% relation to the festival theme
  • 25% taste

Before adding the last 20% from final weighted average public scores.

We of course all have our own perspectives and benchmarks (my pet peeve – if a burger can’t be held in the hands and eaten easily, its not a burger), but it might be interesting to contemplate the above factors when deciding your scores.

WBC spicy crispy pork bao

WBC crispy Sichuan pork bao burger

So far I’ve had one experience at the Glasshouse Restaurant (Thorndon Hotel) where Nona was excellent at describing the dish components and how to maximise the tastes, and one at WBC where the festival theme was reflected in a fusion of Asian/New Zealand styles and ingredients by a renowned chef, Jenny Gao of Shanghai (although I only found that out later when chatting while paying).

And my last piece of advice? Keep your thoughts and probable scores written down somewhere for the first few days, as what feels like a 7/10 might become more or less once you have a few other bites and slurps under your belt to compare to.

Ghouse saus roll dessert

Glasshouse’s ‘sausage roll’ dessert

Lots to think about aye?

So have at it, have some fun and happy scoring (log into the VWOAP site and click the scoring link at the bottom of each Establishment’s page).

And I’ll see you for Slimming September on the other end!

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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