Every time I visit Wellington I leave disappointed that I have not been able to cram enough in. Labelled the ‘coolest little capital in the world’ by Lonely Planet and a ‘locavore’s dream’ by Vogue, Wellington’s hospitality scene seems to be overflowing with energetic creators and collaborators. Makers, producers, restaurateurs, chefs, bakers, artisans, coffee and craft brewers all have a stake in the vibrant and contagious Welly street culture. By no means a comprehensive list, work your way through these Wellington food and drink experiences and you will have made a cracking start on what is an impressive menu.

QT MUSEUM WELLINGTON

The QT hotel group have moved into what was formerly the Museum Art Hotel and, in their inimitable style, have managed to fuse a taste of the avant-garde with high- and low-brow art, resulting in a creative luxury-cool vibe. A great spot to base yourself, sitting harbourside in the heart of Wellington’s cultural hub and arts district, this QT also includes Cuisine Good Food Award-winning dining at Hippopotamus.

Chef Laurent Loudeac has been re-interpreting the French classics in the capital for over 10 years, within an ornate and sparkling restaurant space that is a visual feast. If fine dining is not your thing, QT Museum Wellington also offers an Asian eating house and bar, Hot Sauce, where they will present their one-night-only hawker-style event for Welly On a Plate. qthotelsandresorts.com/wellington

FIELD & GREEN

Just around the corner from QT Museum Wellington, Field & Green specialises in European soul food. Chef-owner Laura Greenfield and co-owner Raechal Ferguson offer an ever-changing menu of inspired comfort food using fresh local ingredients with some all-day classics.

Go for the kedgeree with soft-boiled egg & curry oil and stay to choose from the incredible array of signature house-churned ice creams and sorbets. The principled philosophy driving the food underpins the interesting and wellformed selection of wines, available by the glass, and beers. I guarantee you a warm welcome and thoughtfully delicious food. fieldandgreen.co.nz

LE SAMOURAI

Don’t go to Le Samourai in search of sashimi. Named after maverick director Jean-Pierre Melville’s elegantly styled cinema masterpiece, it is easy to imagine the film’s lead character (a contract killer with samurai instincts) sitting at the window bar of this unassuming little hotspot and watching the people of Welly pass by.

If you happen to hear a bit of an Irish accent, settle in for the ride. That will be Peter Lowry, bar manager for the group behind Library, Forresters Lane, Chow and Le Samourai. Ask Peter or sommelier/manager Ryan Mckenna to guide you through their intimate and intensely delicious food and drink offering. Pop in early for coffee, croissants or a croque monsieur or settle in later in the day for a selection of cheese, charcuterie, French delights and of course an impressive wine selection. Make sure you order the Swiss Tete de Moin that brings Ryan to your table with a shaving device that he uses to produce gorgeously thin, melt-in-the-mouth frills of cheese that are dangerously addictive.

FORRESTERS LANE

Seasonal cocktails are a thing! If you are craving a pre- or post-dinner drink, you must meet Laura Walker and the crew at Forresters Lane and sample their unusual and experimental flavour combinations. If you prefer the classics they will happily mix up a top-notch version for you, but I urge you to take advantage of a front row seat at the bar while Laura takes you through a thoughtfully curated seasonal menu that changes weekly.

Gleaming jars of preserves and an eclectic line-up of bottles from every corner of the globe give a hint of the clever creations to come, with produce being just as important as the spirit. forresterslane.co.nz

SHEPHERD

Tucked away in the heart of Hannahs Laneway, Shepherd is brought to you by two of the neighbourhood’s founding purveyors, Shepherd Elliot, of Leeds Street Bakery, and Sean Golding, of Golding’s Free Dive. Both are very much a part of that energetic group of creators and players that shape and define Wellington.

Nose-to-tail and leaf-to-root is an important part of the Shepherd ethos and the team try to use every part of everything they cook with. The result is outstanding. Casual and informal with a menu that delivers a flavour-packed punch, this hidden gem is popular, so it pays to book a table. shepherdrestaurant.co.nz

CUSTOMS BREW BAR

Located just off the cultural melting pot that is Cuba Street, this is where toast and coffee become a sensory experience. You might feel like you are in barista Sam Shaw’s home kitchen except for the constant flow of locals in search of a good brew. Customs is Coffee Supreme’s flagship hospitality location in Wellington and an epicentre for what’s current in the world of specialty coffee.

With a range of coffees to drink and arguably the best cold filter coffee in town, you can also pick up roasted coffee and brew equipment so you can have a play at home or in the office. Go for breakfast – the thick slices of Wellington Sourdough topped with seasonal stunners are to die for. coffeesupreme.com/ locations/new-zealand/wellington

EGMONT STREET EATERY

What was once an industrial car park in Te Aro has been transformed into one of Wellington’s slickest eateries. Serving up seasonal produce with a local focus and with sharp direction from owner Simon Pepping, Egmont Street Eatery has a distinct New York feel but is pure New Zealand hospitality. Take the lamb with chargrilled zucchini, cucumber and mint. Well-matched flavours, deceptively simple.

The food is smart (including a gluten-free menu) and the sides are as deserving as the mains. House-made condiments are pleasurable gems as is the carefully selected list of craft beer and wine. egmontstreet.co.nz

FORTUNE FAVOURS

Right in the hub of the Hannahs Laneway and Ghuznee precinct you’ll find Fortune Favours housed in an old dipstrippers factory on Leeds Street. Here the beers are brewed on site for those deemed ‘The Bold, The Brave and The Lucky’.There is much slicing and dicing of sausage and cured meat at the tiny meat and cheese bar within, the resulting boards of delectable goodies being perfect partners to the beer selection which is enormous and thought-provoking. Toasted sandwiches, whole baked wheels of cheese and fondue are also matched with Fortune’s admirable beverage array. Ask for Sean or Shannon to guide you through the current offerings. fortunefavours.beer

NOBLE ROT

When a group of adventurous sommeliers and restaurateurs spotted the need for a specialist wine bar in a city nestled between the famous wine regions of Marlborough and Martinborough, Noble Rot was born. A wine bar that serves excellent food, or is it a restaurant that serves great wine? The fact that it does both earned Noble Rot a coveted hat at last year’s Cuisine Good Food Awards where they also won the award for Best Wine Experience.

Owners Josh Pointon, Maciej Zimny and head chef/director Punit D’souza continue to set the bar high. The wine list is of biblical proportions, staff has excellent knowledge and the food is sublime. noblerot.co.nz

For an unforgettable experience of what Wellington can offer the food and drink enthusiast visit Visa Wellington On a Plate and find out what they have in store for 2019.

Visa WOAP isn’t your typical food festival. It’s not just one day. It’s not just one location. It’s a region-wide culinary takeover. Wellington’s restaurants, venues, laneways and carparks are host to wild celebrations of food and beverage through exclusive set menus, burgers, cocktails, unforgettable events and pop-ups.

Kelli Brett travelled to Wellington courtesy of Visa Wellington On a Plate and WellingtonNZ.com

 

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