IN BRIEF

Logan Brown begets a free and easy little sister.

WHY CHOOSE THIS RESTAURANT?

From the owners of Logan Brown comes Liberty, which literally does offer the liberty of treating this place either as a bar or a full restaurant. The customer is free to call in for a cocktail and a quick ‘Bite’ before a show, or to settle into the grand parade of menu items from ‘Small’ to ‘Large’ and ‘Sweet’. Liberty is successor to Logan Brown’s masculine burger bar Beer Meats Grill and the contrast could not be more dramatic: loud orange and yellow colour schemes, bar-style booths and high tables all make way for sophistication, femininity and comfort. Above a long, squishy suede banquette, blustering cloud-themed wallpaper emblemises Windy Wellington. The cloud-like ricotta gnocchi may also have you hovering above your seat, since prep chef Praful Rama ensures they can be poached and gently steeped to order, without falling apart.

ABOUT THE MENU

The repertoire reveals light accents of Middle Eastern, Japanese and South American, but its main thrust is French, Italian and Spanish. Tostadas are spread with a salsa of tomatillo, avocado and serrano chilli, then creatively topped with ’nduja (Italian salami paste) mixed through pulled pork. Fish lovers will appreciate the butterfish, sustainably caught by spear fishers off Wellington’s South Coast and typically on the plate within 24 hours. Also not to be missed is the burrata with olive and prosciutto, brilliantly surmounted with gin-macerated slices of nectarine.

ABOUT THE CHEF

Previously head chef at the two-hatted Logan Brown, Alex France began his career at Mount Cook landmark The Hermitage, then followed his mentor Ken O’Connell to Bracken in Dunedin. A stint in Noosa explains his menu’s modern Australian-style eggplant ‘parm’, in which parmesan is steeped in milk and cream, then siphoned in elegant blobs over the crumbed eggplant. Although Alex has written Liberty’s menu since day dot, the tres leches sponge is the creation of sous chef Sujoy Ghosh. Flavoured with coconut and mandarin, the sponge is soaked in three milks (condensed, evaporated and normal) and served with on-trend dulce de leche.

ABOUT THE TEAM

The key front- of-house staff are also veterans of Logan Brown, most notably Sicilian-born restaurant manager Pietro Boscia, who pops back and forth between the two restaurants. Jasper Povey is a recovering hospitality toiler: formerly a duty manager at Logan Brown, he theoretically gave away hospo for a new career in real estate, only now he’s back moonlighting at Liberty for his fix. The wine list is of particular interest to Jasper, and it’s thanks to his tutelage that even a part-timer such as 19-year-old Deija Vukona (who is also a student at Wellington School of Dance) is able to accurately describe any wine when asked.

OF NOTE

Liberty’s wine list veers from the mainstream to the murkier waters of the natural, yet avoids any wine showing excessive funkiness or signs of Brettanomyces yeast. Monastero Cistercensi “Ruscum” (Trebbiano, Malvasía, Verdicchio) 2019 literally is an orange wine due to extended skin contact. Fromm “Naturel” (Pinot Noir) 2021, on the other hand, is easily recognisable as a Fromm pinot noir.

227 Cuba St, Te Aro, Wellington
Check website for opening hours
LARGE PLATES: $38 – $45
CONTACT: 04 801 8787
WEBSITE: libertyrestaurant.co.nz