Archives for cafe

Profiling three Kiwi Chefs in New York in the Listener

  As a result of my travels in the US earlier this year I’ve had a piece published in this week’s Listener on three Kiwi chefs making a go of it in New York, including the big guy Matt Lambert whose restaurant holds a Michelin Star. The others are Pauli Morgan of the Nelson Blue bar and restaurant and Mark Simmons of the Kiwiana Café in Brooklyn. A pleasure to talk to all of them.
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Elements Cafe lets me down

Elements Café in Lyall Bay ought to be good. It won the award for best café in Wellington last year, and generally it doesn’t disappoint. It did on Sunday for me anyway, and with one of its signature dishes – the liver with caramelized onions and mushrooms. This dish used to be served on mash but now it comes with toast or rather it comes with soggy ciabatta as the base. It’s soggy because of the rather nice sour cream and meat juice sauce poured over the dish. I’d asked for an extra piece of liver, and yes there were two pieces there, so I guess they got that right. The dish would have been rather sparse with just one. The bacon was lovely and I had an egg as an extra too. But the basic compilation was askew. The supposed caramelized onions were tasteless, and there were just two paltry slices of mushroom. Frankly this was ordinary. On the plus side the service was prompt and attentive, and the prices were reasonable, but I left feeling depressed. A popular
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Picnic in the gardens; pleasant occasion, dull food

Lunch with friends on a fine spring day in a garden setting ought to be a pleasurable occasion, but Picnic, the cafe in Wellington’s Botanical gardens only half pie delivered the expected delights. Half pie is a deliberate expression, meaning it was halfway, kind of ok but not really very good. And it was, in fact, the lamb and kumara pie that let them down. Picnic is certainly popular and there’s been good sized crowds each time we have been there. The setting – either inside the café itself or out in the open air garden air – is pleasant. The staff work hard, by café standards they are competent, the menu is wide ranging, and the kitchen turns out the food quickly enough. But for us each visit has been less than memorable. Last time I had the fish cakes, which were adequate; there was fish and potato mashed into a couple of cakes, recooked and dressed with salad with a splash of dressing. Quite alright, but not pass remarkable. This time I had the salmon nicoise, which was
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Virtuoso will be shortlived

Virtuoso is the new café on the corner of Manners and Willis Street the site where many similar operations have started optimistically only to come adrift. Most recently it was a Mexican café and restaurant on the site is on what used to be called Perrett’s Corner. The Perrett family ran a chemist shop there for many many years before it became Perrett’s Café and Bar somewhere around 2011. Now Virtuoso is poised to follow the footsteps of failure that have befallen some many hospitality operations in that venue. Why? In a town crowded with cafés, bars and restaurants, the minimum requirement is to serve interesting food and satisfying coffee. Virtuoso doesn’t do either. That’s unfortunate for whoever has paid a good deal of money to refit the place and sad for the staff who work there. The fresh appearance with black tables, black high back chairs all neatly arranged and a long black bar is simple and appealing. The flat white I ordered arrived promptly, but it was thin, sharp and bitter. The crema was scant and at $5.50
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Front Room Disappoints: food was bland

When four old friends gather for lunch there is much talk, laughter and enjoyment. That’s what meetings of old friends are about; a catch up over food, coffee and whatever other liquids we fancy. So the Front Room (www.frontroomcafe.co.nz) on the beachfront at Waikanae seemed ideal; casual, not likely to be too crowded, a good reputation and we had all been there before, and enjoyed it. To be blunt this latest experience was disappointing and perhaps even a bit overpriced. We agreed to share the Spanish tasting plate ($18), because we just fancied a nibble to start. There was one croquette, three small pieces of fried chorizo, some almonds, some piquillo peppers, a small pot of pesto, a couple of slices of manchego cheese, about enough for one biscuit each, some ham, and four small pieces of coca bread. The list makes it sound more generous than it was. So among the four of us, a nibble it was. To follow two of us had the pork sandwich, ($19) and two choose the salmon stuff on toast. In the sandwich
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