Have you heard about the Wellington pop up restaurant? In Melbourne for two weeks only, it’s a little taste of Wellington, New Zealand, in the form of a three course meal. As soon as the tickets were released, I pounced on them and booked a table. Why was I so keen? Well, as long time readers of this blog will know, Alastair, Bro and I all grew up in Wellington. Yes, I am a kiwi (ex-kiwi?) and I still have a soft spot for my old hometown.
See – isn’t it pretty? This was taken a couple of years ago when we were back there for a friend’s wedding.
But back to the pop up restaurant, which we visited last Saturday with Thanh, I-Hua and Aaron. They’ve taken over the bar Rue de Fleurus on Gertrude Street, and have transformed the place into a small corner of NZ, with NZ products, pamplets, and even a buzzy bee. All the wait staff and chefs are also from NZ, as well as coffee, wine, beer and most of the produce.
Cocktails, beer, and glasses of wine are $7, and bottles of wine are $30. And did I mention that the cost of the food is $35 for three courses, including coffee and chocolates? Great value.
We started with a shared tasting plate, that came with spiced olives, manuka salt cured lamb shortloin with beetroot, walnut and white balsamic salsa, grilled Marlborough scallops on celeriac puree, fried goat’s cheese balls with manuka honey and kiwi chutney, maple syrup smoked Regal king salmon with horseradish crème fraiche and tiny capers and pig’s cheek “schnitzel” with roast lemon chutney, cornichons and cress. Phew.
I loved, loved, loved the spiced olives, the pig’s cheek “schnitzel” which was like a croquette really, as well as the grilled scallops.
For mains, there were several choices.
Alastair and Bro both had the dukkah-crusted lamb rack and wilted mixed greens with a thyme and garlic braising liquor. It also came with a braised lamb shoulder timbale (hiding at the back), which we joked was like a dimmie. Jokes aside, this was a fantastic dish – the lamb was beautifully cooked and very tender and flavoursome.
If the lamb came with a dimmie, then my main was like a big chiko roll. I had the venison, which was wrapped in Tunisian brik pastry and served with crumbed veal sweetbreads, broad beans, peas and pancetta. Aside from the EVIL peas, I thought this dish was great, really enjoying the vension wrapped in the crispy pastry, though it was almost on the side of being too salty. The sweetbreads were perfect though.
And finally, for dessert there were two choices.
Everyone loved the dark chocolate pavi with fresh raspberries, manuka honey cream and damson plum coulis. I had a little taste – it was super dark and super rich.
My choice was the licoricello panna cotta with vodka lime parfait and pistachio wafer. I really enjoyed it, the panna cotta was soft and silky. It was creamy had a faint aniseed flavour. I also loved the crunchy pistachio wafer, which was like honeycomb or a brandy snap.
After all that food, we finished with coffee and chocolates before regretfully heading back into Melbourne.
All the tickets are sold out, but they are accepting a limited number of walk ins each day so go early and try your luck if you’re interested. Or you could just go visit Wellington, right? As the posters on the wall say, it’s only a ~3 hour flight. Now if only Air New Zealand would schedule those flights at better times…
Check out my Wellington category for more Welly posts.
And for more on the pop up restaurant, see:
Wlg pop up restaurant
153 Gertrude Street
Open: Tuesday 15 Nov to Sunday 27 Nov 2011, 6pm until late. Closed Mondays.
Web: What is wlg