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”

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

Fine eats at the Tinakori Bistro

I really was surprised by the standard of food when I dined at the Tinakori Bistro a month or so ago.

So much so, that I went back and chatted with chef/owner Aaron Stott and  wrote about them for Word on the Street (check out the full details here).

And they’re still doing Grab One vouchers as we speak.

So if you fancy some very nice dining in a casual environment, Tinakori Bistro should be on your list.

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328 Tinakori Road

A Wellington watering-holes tee

To celebrate Wellington’s wonderful beer spots, local company Very Well ran a Facebook promo on Wellington Live to find out what places should be included on their new Wellington tee, and what the unofficial top 10 Wellington drinking spots are.

So here’s the results:

screen-shot-2017-03-06-at-2-52-14-pm

And the tee:

wellington-drinking-spots-457

Available online, along with a whole bunch of other Wellington tees.

Get thee to Sixes and Sevens

The name Sixes and Sevens for the wee cafe on Taranaki Street behind Burger Fuel is an inside joke given Rob’s never been at sixes and sevens in his life.

six-seven-exterior

He started out as a fine dining patissier in Auckland, dabbled in catering, and then moved into the cafe and deli space, discovering you can choose what to bake every day. Eureka!

So Rob bakes what he’d like to eat himself, using local, fresh and seasonal ingredients. His like of order is evident in the presentation of the cabinets, the food itself and the calm excellence of the staff.

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The salad I enjoyed was a blend of several, with natural goodness (over-saucing is a pet hate), and presented very nicely for eat-in. At $10 for a satisfying lunch, how could you go wrong?

I then enjoyed a spinach and spring onion scone, which had a crispy exterior and soft flavourful interior. They were four different scones that day, so plenty of choice.

And I kicked myself all afternoon for not slipping the single remaining pear brioche into my bag for dessert too, as it looked so appealing. Next time if I’m lucky!

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Sixes and Sevens first came to my attention through Wellington on a Plate last year, when they were part of the pop-up donut store at Moore Wilsons.

And they do great donuts. There were both lemon cheesecake, and the classic cream buns still going in the early afternoon when I was there. So this is the place to come if you have a donut itch (check out their donut Saturday event this coming Saturday 11 Feb).

There was also a bunch of teas and cold drinks, Havana coffee, and apparently, damn good smoothies. With every flavour under the sun, and every superfood shot or protein supplement you could imagine, I suspect they just might live up to that claim (who knew there was such a thing as Amazonia raw immune supplement??).

If you keep an eye on their Facebook page, you’ll see what’s up each day, and can plan accordingly.

Monday to Friday, 7am-4pm (3pm closure on Fridays).

51 Taranaki Street

 

Beach House & Kiosk

The old Bach at Owhiro Bay has been taken over by the folks who created Elements.

bh-exterior

The physical layout of the Beach House & Kiosk feels pretty much the same to me, but now has a more seaside vibe, jazzed up the tables and railing out front (with the rail also doubling as bar-style seating), and I suspect a fairly significant investment into the kitchen.

Like Elements (and then later the Eat Street food truck), Scott and Zoe are focusing on fresh, seasonal, local and sustainable ingredients.

With a group of eight, I got to check out a range of breakfasts, all which met with approval:

  • crepes with seasonal fruit, lemon curd, coconut ice cream, maple syrup and candied walnuts (pretty and sweetly delicious)
  • a breakfast burger or two of Andouille sausage, streaky bacon, kasundi, fried egg, caramelised onion, rocket and halloumi (and if that wasn’t enough you could add duck fat potatoes for another $4!)
  • smoked kipper potato cakes with poached eggs, furikake and hollandaise (heavier on potatoes than kippers apparently, but tasty)
  • free-range soft scrambled eggs with free-range thick cut streaky bacon on sourdough (both boys who had this were voluble about the fantastic flavoured and textured fat in the streaky bacon)
  • baked spinach and tomato with smoked brinza, dukkah crusted egg and rocket (I’m so having that next time)
  • and a soft shell crab burger with wasabi mayo, lime cucumber, rocket, chilli jam and fries. Holy meeeoly.

And for me, washed down with a Salty Dog apple and lime soda. When at the seaside…

Other house sodas that caught my eye were the vanilla rhubarb and white cola. As well as the Storm and India organic premium coconut chai and almond macaroon teas, and the Whittaker’s iced chocolate. Beach House are also licensed with a simple range of wines and beers, but most of us didn’t get that far.

They’re currently doing daytimes, 7 days per week, but have recently advertised for additional staff so they can throw in a few nights as well.

410 The Esplanade, Island Bay

PS. The Kiosk is around the side doing frozen yoghurt, takeaway coffees etc on weekends and public holidays when its crazy inside and you just want a quickie (so to speak!).

 

 

 

Beanbags and courtyards

I’m hoping I haven’t jinxed summer by writing a post about the best beanbag and courtyard spots in the city!

karaka-beanbags

But it had to be done, as there are some very groovy spots, with many tucked away and not immediately obvious.

Feel free to share your favourites in the comments below, as there’s still plenty of summer left for us all to go exploring.

Time to relax and enjoy…

 

 

 

Husk on Ghuznee

Apologies for the hiatus folks, a family death, a property settlement and xmas interrupted the eating and drinking with gay abandon for a few weeks. But back in business now.

Husk Bar and Eatery has opened on Ghuznee Street opposite Glover Park, down a hallway marked by a barrel on the street.

This is the brainchild of the Choice Bros craft beer brewers (who do some interesting concoctions – including a bull semen beer for the Greenman pub a year or two ago!), and the Karamu Coffee folks. To bring you a micro-brewery (some parts yet to arrive and craft brewing to get under way soon after that), a coffee roastery (Karamu is currently in an industrial part of Seatoun), and quality eats (they’ve pinched two chefs with significant Wellington experience at places like Shed 5, Pravda, Shepherd and Ancestral).

The long-term vision is to have all their own beers on tap, both the coffee and beer matching the food, and some interesting amalgamations like barrel aged coffee. Ambitious.

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So the venture has just begun, and will develop more over the next three months. But my first visit today left me pretty impressed with the effort that’s gone into it so far. From the main decor down to the cutlery containers on the tables, the quality of the food, and the service.

We sampled the Choice Bros ‘Strung out on Lasers’ raspberry and lime sour (a little sweet and sour and quite quaffable), the coffee (well-made with subtle flavours), and the Bach Brewing ‘Duskrider’ Red IPA (reasonably hoppy). I particularly liked that one could get a 150ml tasting size ($4-$5), and try several if so inclined, and that the whole venue is smoke-free.

And although it was 1pm, the breakfast menu was still offered as well as the lunch, so I enjoyed the fried Jamaican Ginger cake with vanilla mascarpone and poached rhubarb, and the chip fiend enjoyed the house crumpets with bourbon butter and Husk preserves.

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You’ll see above that the presentation was very good, and the flavours and textures were well balanced and done with a light hand (no drowning of anything here). They also bake in-house, so easy to pop by for a coffee and scone.

Definitely a place to watch with interest.

7am to late, 7 days.

62 Ghuznee Street

 

 

 

 

 

Machete – Guatemalan coffee and tacos

As mentioned in a recent Word on the Street post, Paul and Cesar have brought some Guatemala home to Wellington.

machete-guat-people

They are both very passionate about their relationship with Guatemala (Cesar’s heritage), and the word ‘earthy’ comes up a lot in conversation. Many people there only have the basics, so they’re masters as using whatever’s to hand to spice up their lives, including the spices in the food.

At Machete, you enjoy single origin Supreme coffees roasted for the gentler siphon or V60 brewing methods, or you can still get a standard espresso if you fancy. Paul is very knowledgeable about coffee and happy to share information.

There’s also a range of coffee accessories and some interesting teas available for purchase if you fancy.

On the food front, the breakfast menu is small but tasty (check out the bircher parfait with cherries below; and the kiwifruit, ricotta and honey on Leeds Street toast), while the lunch menu mostly focuses on the tacos.

What makes these tacos Guatemalan is the use of chilli (judiciously), and simple un-adorned ingredients. You can choose one, two or three, which gives the option of trying all fillings, or mixing and matching to suit your personal preferences (including one vegetarian).

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I had two and found them both to be fresh, light, and well balanced in flavour and texture, and interestingly, a good match with the coffee. And if you fancy afters, there’s a very Kiwi hokey pokey biscuit, or scones and one or two other house-baked goodies.

Machete make all of their food and fillings in-house, with only the taco shells coming from other specialists, so you truly are getting hand-crafted and quality food.

Monday to Friday 7.30am-3.30pm, Saturdays 9am-4pm.

9 Boulcott Street.

 

PappaRich

PappaRich has opened in Grey Street opposite the Intercontinental.

It’s pretty much the Malaysian Macca’s, albiet with a little more class. So wouldn’t normally be on my radar, but for the roti’s and hainan bread – both are excellent. The hainan is gorgeous steamed with butter and sugar, and choose any roti – you won’t go wrong.

pappa-decor

The chain started in Kuala Lumpar, and is now in Australia, Brunei, China, South Korea, Singapore, USA and little ol’ NZ (Auckland first in 2015).

It’s pretty much self-service – you write your own orders from a large glossy menu and then hit a green button on the table for collection – but the menu is very colourful and and easy to read.

The down-side to all of this was evidenced a little later when the food came in random sequences, with one meal nearly finished before the rest arrived, and the coconut jam roti (which was excellent) arriving later again.

Unbeknown to me it takes longer to craft, so either the kitchen don’t plan for these things, or its custom to just receive each item as it’s ready (which you don’t know because there isn’t an order-taker to tell you!) or you should mark your order in some way to indicate sequence (yep, you get the picture).

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The rest of the food was fresh and pleasant (fairly mild), and there look to be some interesting desserts for another adventure.

PappaRich is not licenced, but there’s a large selection of non-alcs from Cham (mixed coffee and tea served cold with ice) to fresh juices, a couple of hot offerings, and the many mugs of milky concoctions.

The almond grass jelly drink was a bit odd-sounding (right up my alley then!), but was actually rather fun and tasty – turns out those big straws are just the ticket for slurping up cubes of jelly.

pappa-jelly-almond-drink

Seven days from 11am.

3B/1 Grey Street

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