Wellington: One Red Dog

One doesn’t normally have lunch surrounded by cowboys, nuns, Vikings or Flintstones characters. Unless it’s during the Wellington Rugby Sevens that is! Our visit to Welly for Benisa’s wedding coincided with the Rugby Sevens weekend and party people were out in full costume. The Wellington Sevens isn’t just about rugby – it’s customary for attendees to go in fancy dress, and judging from the outfits we saw, costume shops all around Wellington must do a roaring trade during that weeend!

That Saturday, Alastair and I headed down to Queens Wharf with Bro and Malcolm (Alastair’s father) to see the Leonard Da Vinci exhibition at the NZ Academy of Fine Art. The exhibition showcased about 60 machine models based on Da Vinci’s original drawings. It was a very interesting exhibition, with the models grouped in themes: war machines, flying machines, nautical and hydraulic machines.

After the exhibition, we stopped at an eatery close by for lunch, which happened to be One Red Dog at Queens Wharf. It was packed full of people going to the Sevens, with about 80% of people in the restaurant in fancy dress.

We ordered two medium pizzas ($21.50 each), an antipasto plate ($28) and a serve of wedges ($9) to share amongst the four of us. When the food came out, I realised that not only was there too much food, but all we had (inadvertently) ordered was carbs and cheese!

One Red Dog

The first pizza was the Fastest Indian – a tandoori chicken pizza with red onions, poppadoms, buttered chicken sauce and garlic yoghurt.

One Red Dog

The second pizza was the Texan – a spicy chicken pizza with onions, red capsicum, jalapenos, sour cream and chipotle bbq sauce. Erm, how did we end up with two chicken pizzas? I dunno!

One Red Dog

And here’s the antipasto plate. Several different types of cheese, grilled pita bread with melted cheese, ham, salami, smoked salmon, pickles, more cheese, olives, more cheese and caperberries. I particularly liked the caperberries.

One Red Dog

And the wedges… we so didn’t need the wedges.

Fortunately we got asked if we wanted to take the leftovers, so our extra food wasn’t wasted – plus it meant Bro had pizza for breakfast the next day!

One Red Dog
Steamship Building
North Queens Wharf
Wellington
New Zealand
Phone: +64 4 918 4723

Wellington: St Johns Bar

When Alastair and I went to Wellington the other weekend, my parents happened to be there too and I happily accepted their offer to pick us up from the airport. My folks were staying with family friends, and since Alastair and I had a couple of hours to kill we went to hang out with them for a while.

The whole extended family was also there – and when I say extended family I mean three generations, which includes the grandma, three of her children plus their partners, eight grandchildren, half of whom have boyfriends, and three dogs. And us. In one house.

Everyone was gathered at the house for an early dinner. Alastair and I were meeting his father, Malcolm, for dinner later, so we weren’t planning to eat. At least, that was our intention. We weren’t prepared for the “persuasiveness” of a Chinese grandmother.

We tried to tell her that we ate on the plane, and that we were going out for dinner in an hour but she wouldn’t take no for an answer. “Eat! Just a small amount! Go on!” We soon figured out that there was no way we were leaving the house without consuming something.

Which may explain why, when we eventually met up with Malcolm, we weren’t that hungry! For dinner, Malcolm had booked us a table at St Johns Bar. Located on the Wellington waterfront, in the 1930s St Johns was an ambulance building, before being converted to a music venue and finally into a bar/restaurant. Inside it was very sleek – with a large dark chocolate timber bar in the middle of the room, and tables and chairs hidden away behind a partition in the back.

As we’d had the mini dinner, we skipped starters and went straight to mains.

Wellington: St Johns Bar

Alastair ordered the Duo of Lamb ($34). On the plate were lamb cutlets, served medium rate, and braised lamb shoulder wrapped in rice paper with celeriac puree and redcurrant jus. It looked really good!

Wellington: St Johns Bar

Malcolm had the fish of the day, which I think was grouper. He said that it was one of the best fish dishes he’d ever eaten – high praise!

Wellington: St Johns Bar

And I ordered the pork belly. The pork belly had a manuka honey glaze and was served with sautéed green beans and fried potatoes ($29). The belly was nicely tender and you could definitely taste the flavour from the manuka honey, which to be honest didn’t really work for me. And the crackling… oh the crackling… see it sitting on top of the pork tower? Doesn’t it look AMAZING? It had the looks, but in reality it was incredibly hard. So hard that I had concerns about breaking my teeth!

(I managed to eat it in the end – I was very careful.)

Wellington: St Johns Bar

For dessert, Alastair and I shared a serve of tiramisu. Malcolm ordered the same thing, and he was rather amused by the size of the plate versus the tiramisu. It was admittedly a small portion compared to the plate!

We had a very pleasant catch up with Malcolm – St Johns had a casual, unfussy atmosphere and the food was mostly good.

Details of more Wellington eats to come – including the discovery of my favourite Kiwi ice cream of all time – now in ice block form! Ohmy!

St Johns Bar
5 Cable Street
Wellington
New Zealand
Phone: +64 4 801 8017

Maha: siblings who lunch

On the Friday before Australia Day, Bro took the day off, so we organised to have lunch in the city. Rather than going for cheap Asian again (like the other lunches we’d had recently), we went down to Maha Bar & Grill.

After looking at the rather awkwardly sized lunch menu we decided to go for a soufra (banquet). There are 3 options available – two courses for $35, three courses for $40 and four courses for $45. We decided that we didn’t want dessert and choose the two course option.

Maha

Not too long after we had ordered, the first course came out on a wooden board. On the board there was a selection of mezze: marinated olives, char grilled eggplant, warm and crunchy runner beans, rather good hummus, cucumber topped with harissa and a feta-ish cheese, a carrot salad, and pita bread.

Everything was really tasty, and I particularly liked the cucumber – it was a great way of serving a mostly disinteresting vegetable! Almost everything can be jazzed up with spiciness and cheese!

Maha

We didn’t wait long for the second course, which also came out on a wooden board. On the board was butterfish with pinenuts and pomegranante seeds, fattoush, chargrilled lamb mince balls with heirloom tomatoes, capscium dip, cous cous with raisins, and more pita bread.

Maha

The smokey, garlicky lamb balls were nicely spiced, charred on the outside, and served quite raw in the middle – the capscium dip complimented them well. I enjoyed the heirloom tomatoes, and since Bro doesn’t like raw tomatoes I got to eat them all!

Maha

The butterfish (at the back) was also very good, perfectly cooked and juicy.

Maha

Bro and I both really, really enjoyed our lunch. The amount of food was just right and, more importantly, delicious. At lunch it’s particularly good value – at dinner it’s a bit more expensive. Judging by the meal we had though, I’m sure it would still be worth it!

Maha Bar & Grill
21 Bond Street, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9629 5900

Plane food: Qantas

We spent last weekend in Wellington to attend the wedding of our good pals, Benisa. We flew Qantas across the ditch, and were served lunch. There were two options on offer – chicken or pasta.

Plane food: Qantas

I had the teriyaki chicken. It was okay despite the unappetising appearance. Chicken in a sweetish sauce, rice, a sliver of carrot and a small amount of floppy Chinese broccoli.

Plane food: Qantas

Alastair had the pasta with peas and pumpkin. It looked cheesey!

Plane food: Qantas

The meals were served with a green leaf salad (with a sachet of balsamic vinaigrette) and a bread roll.

Plane food: Qantas

For dessert, ice creams were handed out.

Plane food: Qantas

On the flight home, we were sitting right at the back of the plane. By the time the trolley got to us there was only the chicken option left. It was similar to the meal I had on the way over, except the chicken was in a slightly different sauce.

Plane food: Qantas

Dessert was again ice cream!

The meals weren’t terribly inspiring, but we have flown on enough budget airlines over to NZ to be grateful to be fed at all!


While we were enjoying ourselves in Wellington, bushfires were sweeping across Victoria in the worst natural disaster in Australia’s recorded history. On our flight home on Monday, we flew over the Latrobe Valley, and saw evidence of the bushfires – not just burnt land but also plumes of smoke from fires that were still burning. My thoughts are with those who have been affected by these horrific events.

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