The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

Hats off…

by Heather C on July 16, 2014 in Food & Drink

To Logan Brown (2 hats), Ortega Fish Shack, The Larder, Charley Noble and Taylors on Jackson (1 hat each) – Logan Brown being the only non-Auckland restaurant to be awarded 2 hats in 2014 (rating alongside Baduzzi and The Grill by Sean Connolly, and just one point below Masu and Kazuya). Well done Wellington!

Now what’s this hat business I hear you say?  You’re definitely not alone in feeling a bit unhatted…

The Australian Good Food and Travel Guide (AGFG) developed the hat rating system in 1977 to reward exceptional chefs. According to their website, hats are awarded for the food alone based on the French Michelin model of rating, and by anonymous experts dining (and paying) a’la’normal customers.

The extension into NZ over the last two years appears to allocate points slightly differently across food, service and ambience (see a much clearer version of the below on the Cuisine Good Food Guide). I understand the judges (still anonymous a’la’normal customers) start at the maximum points in each category and then deduct half marks for each ‘fault’.

Apparently a perfect score has never been awarded in the history of the hat system, and very few near perfect scores, so it appears to have some rigour.

The intention is to have a system that provides some reference of quality dining experiences, so it will be interesting to see how this system is taken up over coming years.

Good Food Guide Ratings

It also got me thinking about how easily we tend to forget about long-standing restaurants like Logan Brown as we rush from new establishment to new establishment given they’re so set in our psyche that we just assume they’ll always be there. But they just may not if they don’t get support (witness Martin Bosley’s end and the Whitehouse opening with a new [probably less formal] concept at Clyde Quay around October).

LB Sean and Steve

So if we want to retain some (any?) places of this caliber in Wellington, maybe we all need to give them another look. There are often options that’ll give you a good taste of their quality without breaking the bank, in the case of LB $49.59pp pre-theatre 3-course meal as long as out at 7.30pm, $35 Saturday high teas or a gustatory experience for a fixed price up front that might not end up being all that much more than having 5 tapas somewhere else at $15+ each ($95 five-course or $125 seven-course Saturday night degustation).

So how about it Wellington, do we want to support a few of the good high end places as well as the new and exciting?


It’s less than 2 weeks till The Wellington round of the New Zealand International Film Festival

Typical Wellington behaviour at this time often includes
- Courtenay Place place being full during daylight hours
- people taking no lunch breaks to allow for an extra long lunch break to catch a film
- taking a day off work to see 4 films in a row
- Taking 2 weeks off work to spend the time in a darkened cinema
- Catching up with people you only see once a year at film festival
- taking mini trips to other Cities just to see films you missed in Wellington
- excessive listening to the Rancho Notorious podcast to see what Dan or Kailey think of a film or special watching tips
- running between the Paramount and the Embassy to catch a film
- eating while standing in line for a film
- trying to guess which film will come back when caught in a timetable dilemma


In light of what will be a wonderful 2 weeks in Wellington, here’s our personal tips for what to catch during the festival. Also trust us if you can see something at Film Festival see it at Film Festival. Don’t wait for a film to  return, for Video on Demand. nothing beats the big screen and nothing beats a big screen filled with fellow film fans, even worse the returning film might be something edited down for timing or some other stupid reason.

CocteausHeather C


Aunty and the Star People – inspiring, uplifting and she’s a local.

Beauty and the Beast – one of the great original classic fairytales which looks to have amazing detail..

Beloved Sisters – for the emotion and passion of two centuries prior.


RealitiTom Beard

REALITi: While NZ doesn’t have a stellar track record for science fiction movies, Chad Taylor and Jonathan King make an intriguing team that should bring dark, literate menace to this existential dystopian thriller.
Particle Fever: Themes don’t come much bigger than the nature and fate of the universe, so this documentary about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson should appeal to more than just physics junkies.
Goodbye to Language 3D: Godard infamously said that “a film should have a beginning, a middle and an end but not necessarily in that order”. He continues to throw out the rules, not just for the 3D technology normally reserved for popcorn fodder, but for language itself.

. Because of the idea of the lead aging from 6 to 18 over the course of the story, and because it’s a Richard Linklater picture.
Hard to Be a God. Never heard of the director but the NZIFF write-up is irresistible.
Under the Skin. Jonathan Glazer’s long-evolving back catalogue points to him eventually doing something extraordinary and I’m hoping this is it.
Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? I’m a Michel Gondry nut. He can do no wrong. I actually have a crush on him.
The Tale of The Princess Kaguya – for what is film festival without a Studio Ghibli film
National Gallery – behind the scenes at the national gallery, it looks like all the things i crave in a documentary
The Lady from Shanghai - I love the old restored films that are brought back every year. I still remember the year Rear Window played at The Embassy and despite having seen that film on video many of times it blew my mind. So to not see anything Orson Welles would be a crime against cinema

Bonus Track
The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness – behind the scenes at Studio Ghibli the year that Miyazaki Hayao was completing his last film The Wind Rises and Takahata Isao worked on The Tale of Princess Kaguya


Emma from Emma Makes kindly visited and revisited  - Wunderrūma: New Zealand Jewellery  exhibition at The Dowse  for us.


Each time I return to Wunderrūma: New Zealand Jewellery I find something new I want to own. It began at the opening with Emily Valentine’s Kingfisher Brooch (2013).

“Is that a bird?” said the friend I was with.

Yes it is – literally a whole bird mounted flat out as if ready to take off, its bright blue under-feathers poking through sensible brown and looking at once like a museum specimen and something I’d be keen to break out of its case.

Next on my list of covetable objects is Randell Cottage Jewellery – a quiet grouping of jewellery and trinkets found, ‘in a small hole behind the chimney’ when Thorndon’s Randell Cottage was renovated in the 1990s. They sit adjacent the case holding Kingfisher Brooch – I’d hardly taken a step into the show before finding two pieces that delighted me.

Randell Cottage Jewellery

Randell Cottage Jewellery

In essence, jewellery is art to have and to hold – pieces to covet, to wear and to want. The thing with Wunderrūma, the thing which has made me sound as demanding and materialistic as Veruca Salt, is the set up – this is a show that is designed to encourage discovery.

To say The Dowse has been ambitious in their exhibition design is an understatement. It was all hands on deck in the lead-up as the team assembled, glued and stapled a series of rather special Perspex cases. They sit three to a grouping and are stacked, which means visitors look – they really look – at the art. At the opening and at a later event I watched groups of all ages duck and weave, giggle, point and delight as they wove in and around, up and down the Perspex maze.

“Huh,” I thought towards the back of the room, “that case is empty;” only to discover the smallest of brooches hidden in the corner.

At one point I had to stop myself lying on the floor to get a better look at a set of metal leaves (Roy Mason’s Pennies from Heaven (2012)) just to prove they weren’t in fact ‘real’ leaves. They sit on the edge of the show, halfway in, but are also neatly reflected by a similar, and much more oxidised, leaf that forms part of the aforementioned Randell Cottage Jewellery collection.


It’s these kinds of ‘accidental’ themes and juxtapositions that fill the show and provide rewards on subsequent viewing.

Curators Warwick Freeman and Karl Fritsch say in their catalogue of the show ($25.00 from MINE The Dowse shop) that they chose the show based on pieces they like. Wunderrūma has clearly been developed by people who’ve held it close for a long time – taken time to think through decisions and make choices that are instinctive and ingrained so that themes of materials, styles, shapes, time and meaning are created almost as if by osmosis.

Last time I caught up with director Courtney Johnston she told me, “The complaints about the exhibition design have died down.”
There’s no doubt the curators and The Dowse are brave in their choice to show Wunderrūma in this stacked case configuration. They’ve gone one step further and removed the labels too, moving details about artists and materials to a room booklet instead.

The Dowse has created a show which, through design, encourages visitors to look and discover – much better than any text wall panels, flat screen TVs or other types of museum interpretation could achieve.


Wunderrūma is free and on at The Dowse (45 Laings Road, Lower Hutt) until 28 Sep 2014. Find out more at

About Emma Makes

Emma Makes is a crafter with a day job who lives in Wairarapa. She likes good books, smart people, making things and silly jokes. She sells online at and you can talk to her on Twitter @emmamakes


Holey pancake!

by Heather C on July 2, 2014 in Food & Drink

Who’d’ve thought a few holes could be so useful.

Yemenese pancakesFinc are doing Yemenese pancakes on their breakfast and brunch menu at the moment (with poached winter fruit warmed in a ginger syrup with thick yoghurt) – a thin spongy dinner-plate-sized pancake full of holes and great for catching and mopping up sauces and syrups.

And then there’s the new(ish) Ethiopian restaurant on Tory Street opposite Moore Wilson, The Meeting Tree, with Injera bread – also large, thin and spongy and full of holes for mopping up sauces and curries.

The Yemenese ones sometimes include fine cornmeal or semolina flour, whereas the Ethiopian ones are traditionally made from teff flour (high in iron) and are sourdough-risen over a couple of days, hence the slightly sour notes wafting through The Meeting Tree overlaying the aroma of spices.

The Meeting Tree dishes all have fabulously interesting names like doro wot and zilzil tibs (essentially marinated meats or lentils / split peas in soups or curries or dry sautéed, with accompanying rice or injera bread) and there are IMG_1387nearly as many vegan dishes as meat.

Whereas the Finc dishes have interesting asian twists courtesy of the Yee’s (and maybe the best date scones in town…?)

But essentially, aren’t we lucky to have all sorts of eating experiences in Wellington. Simple to fine, many ethnicities, small to large, quiet to noisy etc.  And a good few that won’t break your bank.

So go grab a platter at The Meeting Tree (meat or vegan to sample a little of many things) or go support some other unique, maybe struggling, maybe under-marketed, business who’s doing their level best to contribute to our rich fabric.

(The Meeting Tree have just received their liquor licence yesterday and will be serving alcohol from this Friday 3rd July, so you’ll now also be able to avoid the smart arse comments from colleagues about going out for bread and water!)



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by Heather C June 25, 2014

As if we aren’t fooded out at the moment with all the WOAP preps, the annual Monteith’s Wild Food Challenge starts on 1 July. Yep, next week. Check out the website here listing all your local outlets and options (but have a plethora of swear words ready for trying to navigate easily between the Wellington […]

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by Alf Rune June 20, 2014

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Today is World Refugee Day

by Sue Tyler June 20, 2014

Many things are going on but for the coffee obsessed why not grab an extra coffee today at  the Peoples Coffee cafe in Newtown. They’ll be donating all of the proceeds from the cafe today to MCLaSS – (Multi-Cultural Learning & Support Services). MCLaSS offers free education and support for adult refugees and migrants through beginner ESOL […]

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The Phoenix Foundation: Bob Lennon John Dylan

by noizyboy June 18, 2014

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A 5th birthday…

by Heather C June 17, 2014

The City Market (Sundays at Chaffers) is turning 5. So this Sunday they’re running a little longer than usual (til 2pm) and adding more entertainment and stalls (quite a long list actually if you check out their Facebook page). The market still has some good old favourites like Le Marche French cheeses, Rachel’s Yellow Brick Road seafood, […]

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