Food Guide to Wellington: Logan Brown, Tatsushi, Charley Noble, Ortega.
This shall be a brief run down on several favourite places I managed to dine at during my short stay in Wellington. As I have said previously in my last post – Travel guide to Wellington – this smallish city is a melting pot for food. Read about brunch options, Wellington’s Sunday food market, and Friday night markets: here.
So here goes my photographic reel of drool worthy food…
A relatively new addition to the Wellington food scene, from the creators of White House comes Charley Noble. It pitches itself as smart, casual eatery & bar with a no reservation policy (a concept I despise greatly) and reasonable price point. It certainly has successfully showcased wood-fired cooking with the best of organic and sustainable produce drawing in an excited crowd nearly every day of the week. The wine list with natural wines and craft beers is perfect alongside the tantalising share plates (think: an energetic plate of seared zucchini & pesto cake with grilled asparagus, or pigs tail on a bed of faro), and smoky wood-fired choices (such as lamb shoulder, whole spatchcock, and aged beef) which in all truth is quite inexpensive for what you are getting on your plate.
Where: Ground Floor, Huddart Parker Building, No 1 Post Office Square, Wellington
Contact: 0508 242 753
When: Mon-Fri lunch and dinner, Sat dinner only. Note: No dinner reservations taken so be prepared to come early or wait in line.
If you think that all I am going to write about is high end Western / contemporary cuisine, then you have it all wrong. There is no shortage of inexpensive and pan-Asian options in Wellington. Tatsushi – an accidental discovery – is ironically one of my favourite eateries all-round. It is much less well known across mainstream media (than say Kazu), but its unique offerings are far from the usual foreigner-oriented Japanese eateries, and I prefer this over the other bigger institutes.
Their rendition of tuna chazuke (tuna broth poured over rice) and steamed homemade tofu are for me a must order. These simple dishes are nostalgic and very nourishing. Whilst the tofu is not quite as exquisitely flawless as that I had in Nara & Kyoto, but no doubt they were century old artisan tofu makers, so can’t complain. The sashimi selection is also worth mentioning – highly market based, bringing forth whatever is best, for a $27 sashimi platter expect to try at least six different locally caught fish such as: kingfish, salmon, groper, trevally, alfonso, blue warehoe, terakihi.
Where: 99 Victoria St, Wellington
When: Lunch Tues-Sat, Dinner Wed-Sat.
Contact: +64 4 472 3928. *tip: please book for dinner.
Logan brown is very much a Wellington institute (having visited Melbourne a while back on the Wellington pop restaurant event) of fine dining. Set in a grand former banking chamber, with all of its lauding perception, Logan Brown could easily have fallen into the traps of being pretentious and wearisome, but instead maintains an elegant cool, simplicity and is highly produce driven, which sets a fine example of class in contemporary cuisine.
Relative to the usual $40+ main dishes on it’s a la carte, the $45 3 course bistro set menu (whilst obviously a more restricted menu) is an absolute bargain. Being the deal it was and the glut I am, I spent the extra smackeroonies saved on wine matching ($70).
For entrees think: a fruity-smoky fragrance of apple smoked Ora king salmon alongside the lightly seared fetta gnocchi finished off with the deep hues of beetroot. New Zealand’s lamb is always a failsafe option, so for mains think: a lovely pink coastal spring lamb rump with coarsely crushed peas and rich thyme jus. And to finish off the meal: a bitter-sweet course of Toffee panna cotta with a tangy basil cream.
Where: 192 Cuba St, Wellington.
Contact: +64 4 801 5114
*tip: bargain bistro menu ($45 3 courses) available Tue-Sat lunch, and pre-theatre dinner daily vacated by 7.30pm.
With a sublime effortlessness in Ortega‘s cuisine, focussing on fresh seafood and produce with a twist of oriental, alongside the front of house Davey – Maitre’d and co-owner – with his quirky-slick presence, there is no question as to why people leave here with lauding reviews, and that the halls are decked with numerous awards for front of house, cuisine, best fish restaurant, and even for its beer list.
[Ortega fish shack]
Where: 16 Majoribanks St, Wellington
Contact: +64 4 382 9559
Booking: please make reservations ahead of time. Another full on most nights restaurant.
There are plenty more dining options around Wellington city, and here’s a few more food photo’s for your perusing. Whether it be steamed market fish at an upmarket Chinese eatery – Ancestral, Matterhorn for a few drinks and bites, White House, shed 5, Foxglove … the list goes on.
And if you haven’t already, check out other travel posts by Almost Always Ravenous: