Ok, so if you’ve had your finger on the pulse you would have already heard about the Wellington pop-up restaurant due to open for a brief two weeks in Sydney. Where? 32 Bayswater Road in The Cross. Otherwise known as the former home of Bayswater Brasserie. When? 14-26 Sept. Why? Because the menu will echo the fab food that can be had in that windy city just three hours across the Tasman, plus a great line-up of chefs to do the deed.
Those Kiwi’s really know what they’re doing when it comes to wine, regional foods, coffee that’ll slap you around so hard it may even leave a bruise and some bloody-good seafood that rivals the stuff we take for granted at our own Fish Markets. Back to the wine. I tell you what, if they serve up the pinot noir that’s coming out of NZ right now it’s worth booking a table just for that. New Zealand was all about the Sauvignon Blanc, now it’s all about the Pinot Noir, darling. You hear me?
While I was in Wellington with my fellow food paparazzi we had the pleasure of partaking in the exciting preview of the WLG pop-up in an abandoned cinema building near the harbourfront. This building has been out of action for a very long time and I’m sure it created quite a stir when locals drove past and noticed the lights on with people seated at communal tables tinkering with knives and forks in a very civilised set-up.
Tables were draped in white cloth, beautiful daffodils, fresias and cherry blossom waded in vases amongst wine glasses and menu’s, the lighting was moody, candles flickered in paper lanterns and the overall vibe was static.
Having the menu on the table made for instant conversation as soon as you were seated, a menu that is typically modern New Zealand and one that celebrates all the good (and tasty) things that make this island land what it is today. Eenie meenie miney moe. What to have, hey? I think I need another pinot noir to aid in the decision-making.
The sharing platter for starters makes life a little easier with its antipasti of bread, spiced Lot 8 olives and succulent Venison carpaccio weighted down with a mild horseradish cream and peppery watercress. The Citrus cured salmon gravlax paired nicely with the (also) mild NZ wasabi panna cotta and the Fried goat’s cheese balls with manuka and feijoa chutney was very good (the goat’s cheese, that is). Personally I wasn’t that taken by the chutney and found it a bit harsh against the mild goat’s cheese.
From the trio of mains I chose the roasted Groper with Marlborough mussels, clams & green pea stew. The fish came cooked perfectly pink and the clams (or pipi’s as we call them on this side of the Tasman) were a great accompaniment with the peas. After a bit of a poke around I noticed that somehow the mussels didn’t make it to my plate but I was happy with what I had anyway.
The Horopito seasoned beef with slow roasted tomato, beans & extra virgin pomme puree looked like a perfectly cooked treat. Horopito is a native plant that has been used by Maori for centuries and here the peppery flavour matches with the red meat quite nicely.
The Wairarapa wild mushroom risotto with Grana Padano is delicious and rich and is almost lost under a beautiful thicket of micro herbs. I love the colour of this dish and the strong flavour of Grana Padano cheese is heavenly.
Dessert came in the form of Mojo coffee brulee with Whittaker’s chocolate mousse. My description of it was a little more candid so allow me to quote myself. “It’s toffee-coated sex in a cup.” Seriously, it was! The Mojo coffee brand is synonymous with Wellington and is so good, in fact, that I bought a kilo of the beans to take home. And Whittaker’s chocolate is something I’ve been loving for years. Definitely one of the best brulee’s I’ve had in a long time.
hnf dined at WLG as a guest of Positively Wellington Tourism for Wellington On a Plate (WOAP)
If this dress rehearsal was anything to go by for what is about to open in Sydney, then I can safely say we’re in for a treat. Especially with the stellar line-up of kitchen talent being flown over to do the cooking. Check it out:
Jacob Brown of The Larder
Rex Morgan of Boulcott Street Bistro
Shaun Clouston of Logan Brown
Tom Hutchison of Capitol
WLG pop-up in Sydney will feature a great value $29 menu. This buys you an entree, a share platter main course, dessert and a gutsy Mojo coffee. The wine will come from boutique vineyards in Wairarapa, Marlborough and Martinborough and for those that prefer a brew you’ll be drinking artisan beers from Tuatara. First sitting from 6pm.
There will also be a Wine Bar where for $15 you can choose from three of the most popular mini-burgers, plus matching wine, from the Burger Wellington competition. First sitting from 5pm. Or just drop by on the weekend after 3pm for a tipple.
I’ve got a double pass for you and your chosen one to have dinner at the WLG pop-up in Sydney on Thursday 23 September. All you have to do is leave a comment that contains the three letter airport code for Wellington so be creative, or not. Anyone that qualifies goes into a draw and the winner will be contacted by email. The draw ends on 8 September 2010.
Other posts from my Wellington On a Plate experience: