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 “Willis Street”

Young Shing

The delightful Doris has taken over where Yeung Shing used to be in upper Willis Street with a ‘younger‘ version. With clean, fresh Chinese food ranging across the traditional and not-so-traditional.

YS decor

We started off by sharing crispy spring rolls, which were hot, fresh and crispy, and then proceeded to satay beef and kung pao chicken. The satay beef is made using a blend of Fix and Fogg peanut butters (both the smooth and smoke & fire) and coconut milk. As a result the satay wasn’t heavy or gluggy, had a satisfying ring of real peanut oil left on the plate, and a tasty wee zing.

The kung pao chicken was similarly appealing, fresh and satisfying. As well as plentiful, with both meats tender and not over-cooked. There’s no MSG anywhere within a ten mile radius of Doris’s kitchen, and do ask her to explain why the blue cod has a ‘squirrel’ label on the menu, a delightful tale (tail?!).

 

Although this is a simple restaurant with a takeaway area, I enjoyed the clean, fresh styling, and the soothing clunk of woks and pop radio in the background.

There’s a fantastic 8m mural about to be painted on the dining room wall, and local beer and wine to be stocked in the future, but in the meantime take your own wine or beer along (BYO licensed) or enjoy the onsite offerings (I can thoroughly recommend the Hopt salted lychee soda).

YS squirrel

Cost effective, fresh and tasty.

296 Willis Street

Monday to Friday lunch, Monday to Saturday dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

Il Piccolo hideaway

Il Piccolo is a tiny Italian restaurant tucked up Willis Street beside a bakery and an equally tiny Indian restaurant. When I say tiny, they seat about 18pax maximum (if that includes a few fours or sixes to maximise table space).

Having not been there for years, it felt like a nice Friday escape recently.

Il Picc sign

You won’t need to spend a fortune to have a good time here. The antipasto entrees (various forms of pizza breads) are around $7, the mains (pasta or an impressive list of pizzas) around $16, desserts around $7 (excluding the Affogato at $12) and wine $8 per glass.
After a few early wobbles in relation to double bookings and water needing to be requested a couple of times, we were under way. The garlic bread antipasto was thin crust, light and well balanced in flavour (not too garlicky), and pleasantly seasoned. I like starters that don’t leave you feeling too full from the get go.

Il Pic garlic bread

The lasagne pasta was a good mix of al dente beneath, and crispy on top, without vast quantities of meat or cheese (traditional) and a nice rosemary herby backnote.

The anchovy, caper, and cheese pizza was also thin crust, with a little softness in the base, and real anchovy fillets on top. The overall comment was a good mix of sweet, sour and salty (and if they don’t have tables available, or you live nearby, do get a pizza to take away – there was a steady take away trade going on while we were there).

Il Pic lasagne

When dessert time came, I used my well honed skill of choosing the one thing not available – the Bucaneve (cassata gelato essentially) which I was told wasn’t yet set (at least we know it was house made), and ended up with a baby pavlova topped with passionfruit gelato. Again the flavours were well balanced and not overpowering.

The lemon sorbetto was noted as very lemony, and slightly stretchy in texture.

Il Pic dessert

Overall pleasantly sated for a good price, in a warm, cosy and charming environment.

Even if there are a few service or menu wobbles, you’ll still be won over by the sense of being tucked away from the city’s bustle, as if you were dining in nana’s front lounge.

248 Willis Street.Il Pic lamps

The Arborist Rooftop Bar and Eatery

Arborist decorI was quite impressed by Arborist (the downstairs bar), and I hadn’t expected to be given its a hotel bar done over, and those can sometimes feel a bit lip service.

However, Arborist’s decor has a cosy log cabin feel, the staff were exceedingly welcoming, fun and friendly, the music matched the decor (slightly country/Steely Dan-ish) and the food was appropriately nibbly to go with a drink or two. They also have a cosy-feeling function room down the back, which a friend told me worked very nicely for a seminar recently.

Arborist tapas1The menu was split into bar bites (like quinoa, cheddar and cauliflower cakes with chilli yoghurt; tortillas with turtle bean salsa, avocado and hot sauce; or a Lumber Jack double beef/cheese or Hot Bird southern fried chicken thigh burger), protein dishes (like crispy pork belly, house gravy and apple crisp; jerk chicken; mutton back strap; or butchers sausages) and green dishes (like beetroot, avocado, pea, red onions, sherry vinegar and chilli; superslaw of kale, carrot, red onion, sweetcorn, chilli, nuts, cabbage and seeds; or caramelised brussel sprouts with shallots and pomegranate). A good range of greens in the current meat-obsessed market.

Arborist tapas 2Nothing was more than $14, and most dishes were under $10. Good prices when you just want a nibble with a drink. Pictured above are the quinoa cakes and southern fried haloumi chips, and at right, the jerk chicken and roast veg salad.

I see they do breakfasts and brunches as well, with some interesting options there too – vegetarian mince on toast of black lentils, coconut, mustard seeds and buttered sourdough; Turkish eggs soft poached with savoury Greek yoghurt, nut chilli butter, toasted coriander seeds and grainy toast; and fig and macadamia brioche french toast with chocolate anglaise or ricotta, love honey and almonds. Tempting.

Arborist mocktailOn the drink front, there were some interesting cocktails (mai tai with added caramelised banana and butter rum; mojito of white rum and pineapple gum syrup with green tea and lime, garnished with mint and a honey cured pineapple slice; pick-me-up of gin, fresh grapefruit juice and agave nectar shaken and served with a spice rim and home-made candied grapefruit peel), all with interesting names like Procrastination, Mid Life Crisis or World Famous Fully Loaded Bloody Mary (!), and a reasonable range of international and local beers and wines (sorry I didn’t get much past the cocktails).

I was actually in a non-alcoholic mood that night so asked the bartender if they had mocktails. He immediately offered to magic something up for me, and after asking a few questions about likes and dislikes produced this above. I’m damned if I know what went into it, but it was tangy without being sharp, not over fruited and long and cool. And oh so pretty with flowers on the top.

One of the group did go for a ‘happy ending’ of Smores and ice cream, which was deconstructed and sweet, and again high in the pretty stakes (pictured below).

Arborist smoresThe cabin rules on the back of the toilet door totally summed up the humour of the staff we dealt with, and should not be missed when visiting Arborist (a couple of examples – we reserve the right to tell you to make like a tree and leave if you are rude or disrespectful to our staff or customers; silver, gold dust or nuggets will also be accepted as payment; no sleeping on the grass or tables, we have rooms next door if you are in need of a snooze).

And I believe their rooftop bar (yes it is on the top of the Trinity Hotel on the 7th floor – access via the hotel lobby lift) is either just opened by now, or just about to. I believe there’s lots of artificial greenery, small BBQs on the table so you can take a creative part in your dining experience, and a fully stocked bar. Bring it on (and the weather to go with it!).

166 Willis Street.

The Le Moulin secret

No rouge.

Le Moulin is a long-time Wellington institution turning out delicious bakery goodies and french breads.

Le moulin cornet

Light flakey pastries, beautiful soft fillings (when they’re meant to be) and fresh ingredients – check out this Cornet beauty, just divine.

Have a read of the Omnivores post describing more of the beautiful offerings in detail.

No space for sitting, so plan to take your goodies to savour in another setting.

248 Willis Street near Vivian, Thursday to Sunday.

 

Le moulin map

Mulberry Garden, Willis Street – one to watch…

Next door to the Quoil jewellery shop on upper Willis Street is a cafe space at 149 which has seen a few iterations over recent years.  From Roti Malaysian, to the first Meow, to Ciocco to the current Mulberry Garden Cafe and Bar.

The new owner seems to be starting quietly, but has plans afoot to open up an outdoor garden bar down the back around the mulberry tree already basking in the sun.  I do like that its a long thin cafe with an ‘old-building’ type of facade, and opens out to more once you’re through the door.  Bit like opening a box of chocolates really and maybe discovering something really tasty.  And it did inspire me to do a bit of googling about mulberry trees, just out of general nosiness.

The breakfasts we had were very reasonably priced (in fact I wonder if they can keep the prices down that low over time?), and pleasant.  I did eye up the creamy blue cheese mushrooms on toast, but the stomach wasn’t quite up to that task so early in the day.  Maybe a Saturday brunch return in the future at a civilised time to test these out.  Instead I chose the Italian fruit bread with lemon curd, and R chose the usual toast and peanut butter.

His toast and peanut butter could have been improved by providing grainy or interesting toast (was simple white loaf – but at least fresh and chunky and not tip top square sliced!) or crunchy peanut butter to provide some texture.  Mine was very pleasant and reasonably dense for fruit bread, and two pieces would have been well sufficient.  The coffee was a bit thin, and it appeared that our lad was perhaps newish at baristering, and not yet blasting along confidently multi-tasking at the machine.

The lunch menu looked to have a good range of meal options alongside the cabinet food so definitely one to watch I think and worth popping in if you’re in the neighbourhood for a well priced filling meal in a space still peaceful.

 

Post Navigation