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”

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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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

 

Bastardo and Two Grey

I’ve quite enjoyed two new eateries in the city lately, for totally different reasons.

Bastardo has oodles of olde-worlde charm and classy comfort food, while Two Grey is more of a modern brasserie for catching up with friends over a drink and tasty bites.

Bastardo decor MAIN

Bastardo on Tory Street (the old Pan de Muerto) is brought to us by the Cicio Cacio team from Newtown (also Franziska at Seatoun). And will do well. You can read my thoughts in detail here, and do make room for the groovy dessert trolley when you go.

 

Two Grey MAIN

Two Grey is the new Arizona on the corner of Featherston and Grey Streets. Still the same team out back, but with a focus on local, fresh, seasonal, and modern. The service has been a little patchy to date, but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt at the moment being newbies. Again, more detail here, and don’t miss the roasted cauliflower.

 

Moss Caff

OMG, how did I not know about Moss Caff, which opened in the ASB Tower on Hunter Street at the end of 2016???

Moss decor

What gorgeous fresh, light, tasty, paleo and plant-based food (it’s okay carnivores, there’s meaty things too!).

The decor is warm, sunny and plant-y with lots of lovely open space, and if on your own, could quite happily sit at the window seats watching the world go by.

We enjoyed a mushroom stack with paleo bread, and a paleo spiced lamb and kumara pie. Both of which were superb. And had me immediately plotting my next visit.

ASB Tower, 2 Hunter Street.

Weekdays.

 

 

 

Churchill

The Wellington Hospitality Group (Bethel Woods, Coene’s, Gasworks, Whitby Co-op, Munchen) has added yet another horse to its stable – Churchill bar on Lambton Quay where the Royal and various other bars have been.

Chruchill tweak1

There’s a bit of cheekiness at play in Churchill if one looks closely at the black and white ‘War is over’ mural on the wall, and like other WHG places, there are lots of different nooks and crannies depending on your mood.

We happened along on a Saturday evening pre-Hurricanes game, and the place was buzzing with hopeful anticipation, and bunches of folks getting warm food in their belly before the blast of cold to come.

The food leans British as you’d expect (bangers’n’mash, Cornish pasty with peas and gravy, Beef Wellington, fish’n’chips, Eton mess etc), but actually has a few contemporary dishes thrown in too – warm chicken, feta, quinoa and radiccio salad, or chickpea and cauliflower curry, to name just a couple.

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And to show that you can never tell with Wellingtonians, we metro dwellers ordered the fish’n’chips and bangers’n’mash, while the strapping rugby lads next to us ordered the chicken quinoa salad and grilled fish with veges, and were talking about the parmesan fries they’d made at home recently!

The food came promptly with satisfying braised pork, apple and sage sausages in my dish, and flaky fish inside the crisp batter of the chip fiend’s. The presentation was simple but appealing, and I confess to eyeing up someone else’s potted pork belly with pickled cucumber, sourdough and beer mustard on the way past.

The drinks list has the usual range of suspects, with a couple of not-so-usual leaping out – a black doris plum and ginger sour cocktail, and a Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill bubbly from France if one really wanted to push the boat out.

Churchill decor1

So next time you fancy a comforting bite and blast of conviviality, pop on down to Churchill.

132 Lambton Quay

 

Hugo’s Whisky Lounge

I was reasonably impressed with the style and ambience of Hugo’s Whisky Lounge created above the Establishment on Courtenay Place. With a bunch of different nooks and crannies, and a bible-ful of whisk(e)y’s you could wile away a good amount of time up here.

Hugos bible2

The food was bar snack/tapa style, and ranged from sliders to homemade pork and shrimp wontons (very good), to crumbed camembert with spicy plum sauce to meat skewers to mini seafood fritters etc. And the staff very knowledgeable and helpful.

I won’t repeat what I wrote in my Word on the Street post, but suffice it to say you should pop by for a whiskey and bite sometime on your way out or back from somewhere, and check it out.

Best entry is just around the corner on Blair Street.

From 5pm til late Tuesday to Saturday.

Hugos lounge pic 3

 

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

 

 

 

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