The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

Project Glow on the Runway

by Alan on August 17, 2017 in Events, Fashion, review

A few weeks ago we previewed the garments and accessories created for Project Glow, a fashion competition for reflective gear. Last Saturday evening we attended the Wellington show (the Auckland show is on Saturday 26th, tickets here).

Right now it’s hard to compete with all those luscious burger photos here on The Wellingtonista, so we think we need to lead this piece with the bestest model in the whole darn show: Daisy (photo stolen from the Project Glow Facebook feed).

Daisy the dog modelling at Project Glow

We’re sure you will agree that being visible is important for all members of your household, and so it was great to see pieces on show for everyone.

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How are we all going with Wellington on a Plate then? As we tweeted today, there’s no less than three alternatives to the official site in order to help you navigate your way to a burger (One, two, three). Maybe they’ll be incorporated next year?

In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been eating

  • Lock Stock burger at Concrete
  • Everything on the menu at the Glasshouse in the Thorndon Hotel
  • The Smokeaccino at Hillside Kitchen

The Lock Stock Burger at Concrete

“Smoked cheese and Rocket Fuel-stuffed Angus beef burger with coffee rub, candied bacon and tangy ranch slaw in a Pandoro bun, with fries”

three pics of the same burger

Everyone I saw at Concrete on Monday lunchtime was eating this burger, but I don’t think anyone else’s was as burnt as mine, alas. It’s a shame about the bun’s charcoal, cos the patty had a great flavour, and the slaw was good for breaking up the richness. This wasn’t the easiest burger to lift and bite into, (it was definitely an extra serviette burger with juices) but it was satisfying to eat. I would have liked maybe a bit more of the cheese. But importantly: those were the best fries I have had in a long long time. You know how when you order chips sometimes there’ll be a couple of extra crispy ones that you might end up fighting over? All of these chips were those chips.

Concrete has comfy tables & chairs along with its high tables, and the waitresses were lovely. It’s a shame I didn’t see any newspapers or magazines for solo diners though. Oh, and the toilets are really weird though, like you’re peeing on a yacht. And just so you know and don’t spend ages looking for the tap, you’ll need to push the wooden lever in the mantle to get the water to run to wash your hands afterwards. You’re welcome.

Glasshouse Bar & Grill at the Thorndon Hotel

Steph and I were invited along by the lovely new marketing manager at the Thorndon Hotel by the Rydges to come and try out their Wellington on a Plate menu, so of course we did. They’re a DB bar, which means no Garage Project to match with burgers. Instead, they’ve been really working on their Tuatara offerings, and will suggest a beer to match everything you eat.

I’ve eaten at the Glasshouse before, both at their invitation and also on my own dime because it’s in a really handy location for me, and what I really like about it is it’s very friendly, quiet (usually), and there’s room to spread out your newspaper. They primarily serve a hotel guest audience, some of whom will stay 2-3 nights a week, so they serve comfort food, but with a focus on local ingredients (brands are name-checked on the menu). I think the chef really likes the opportunity that Wellington on a Plate brings to do something different. So this is what we ate:

Festival dish: Smoked pork and pūhā croquette on hāngī-style kūmara purée, pāua meatballs, black pudding and white wine cream

Burger: That Chick’s a Real Jerk – Chargrilled jerk chicken thigh with bacon, pineapple salsa and Baxter’s Original chipotle mayonnaise in a Pandoro milk bun, with shoestring fries and stuffed jalapeño

Dessert: Sausage Roll – Choux pastry filled with Gelissimo Whittaker’s Peanut Slab gelato with cherry sauce

The Dine Menu also gives you the option of a Beef Wellington, which I have eaten and enjoyed before, but it’s kind of cheating, because they have that on their menu normally.

food at the Glasshouse

The chef sent out Steph’s hangi dish with the pāua on the side, cos I’m mildly allergic to shellfish, so happily I got to try it. There was incredible flavour in the smoked pork croquette. I must admit I have never actually had a boil-up, so I don’t know how it compares, but I did love this, and the puree too. Steph says she’s not a huge fan of the flavour of pāua in general, but thought the fritters were well-made. Meanwhile, back on my side of the table, the chicken was super juicy, and there was so much of it in the burger. I might have liked it a little spicier, but I accept that they do need to play safe in the Thorndon land of public servants. The salsa gave it freshness to balance out the bacon. The bun sadly never stood a chance against the juiciness of the chicken though, and as it fell apart the flat board it was presented on (combined with my lack of skills, no doubt) meant this was a multiple napkin event (oh yes napkins, because they’re cloth). Shoestrings are never my favourite fry, but that chargrilled chicken though, that was the business. I hope it comes back in the near future, maybe on rice?

Meanwhile, speaking of public servants, the sausage roll dessert! Excellent! I think this was a logical followup to their peanut butter & jelly sandwich dessert they had last year, and it was fun. The pistachios scattered across the plate gave a good contrast to the Peanut Slab gelato, which was very very tasty.  I really enjoyed eating this, but thought maybe there was a bit too much lemon curd and cherry sauce for my less sweet palate – Steph cleaned hers up for contrast.

The Smokaccino at Hillside Kitchen

Smokaccino burger: Smoked Italian sausage with brisket, bacon, red-eye mayonnaise and pickles, in a dinner roll (NF). Matched w Garage Project Hazelnut Bruin

This burger. Oh sweet Lorde. Oh my stars. This burger. Hooooooooly. The brisket was so thinly sliced it seemed to melt in your mouth, while the sausage was really satisfyingly chewy. Having the pickles on the side was ideal for being able to control your own level of bitterness, and the bun was absolutely perfect. This burger was ideal to pick up and was the perfect level of moist to eat without making a mess. But that redeye mayonaise, that was truly the crowning glory. I’ve just looked it up cos I didn’t know what it was, and it’s mayo made with coffee and sriracha. I want a huge vat of it to swim in please. I want to spread it on everything. The burger went incredibly well with the delicious Garage Project Hazelnut bruin too. My only complaint is now my burger is but a memory. I might have to go back. I think this is going to be very hard to beat. Don’t forget Hillside is pretty tiny, so remember to book. Hurry up, do it now.



It’s day five of this year’s Wellington on a Plate and the city seems to be buzzing. So let’s get down to it. Here’s two events I went to on Saturday.

  • Tapas & Tastings with Matahiwi Wines at Avida Bar
  • Woodfire & Whisky at Sterling

Tapas & Tastings

I wrote about this last year, which maybe I shouldn’t have. I shouldn’t have told everyone how good it was before I secured my own tickets for this year. I missed out in the first allocation  (rookie mistake: I stupidly went for tickets to an event that had multiple sessions first instead of this one-off) but I managed to get them when more went on sale. Phew. Dammit, I’m telling you again how good this is. When will I learn???? But seriously, I really recommend you go next year. Avida does great food and Matahiwi make amazing wine. What’s not to love?

four courses

So you try seven different wines with four mini courses. You get to learn about the wines. You get a chance to win prizes in a quiz. It’s generous hospitality with wait staff coming around to top up glasses “because the bottles are open anyway”. The food is delicious. The room has a great buzz. You don’t have to know a lot about wine to take part – you’ll learn along the way.  You can then order casefuls of wine at discounts (if you want to – there’s no hard sell). It’s a lot of fun. And it’s only $50! This is definitely the best value WOAP event I’ve been to.

Woodfire & Whisky

After a nap, it was back into town and to Sterling Eatery for their Woodfire & Whisky event. Over on the WOAP site they’re calling it “Whiskey” but given that we were drinking Scotch, I’m gonna lose the E (But did you know that if the country has an E in the name, it’s generally “whiskey” ala Ireland and America, but no E for Canada or Scotland or Japan? Cool story Jo. Actually on that, one of the whiskys we tried was Thomson from New Zealand, so I guess that is a whiskey).

menu details

At $159 a ticket, plus having a drink (we were recommended to arrive around 6.30 for a 7pm start), and ordering additional whisky during the dinner course at $14 a glass, this was a pricier affair. But it was a thoroughly delightful time, and worth it, if you’re prepared to accept that you’re the bourgeoisie. Which clearly I am. I didn’t love the mackerel course, but I could have expected that because I don’t like very fishy fish. But I could write poems about the maple-whipped butter on the cornbread. It would go something like “Get in me now plz / I want to eat more of you / butter and whisky”. many courses

I was really impressed with the service at Sterling. The event was a sellout, and it’s a medium big restaurant, but plates were coming out impressively fast for each course (as opposed to the dreadful Foxglove kitchen failures at their event for example). We didn’t have to sit with strangers, which is nice. We had talks from Glenmorangie/Ardberg reps about what we were drinking, but the talks didn’t go on for too long. I’m not a whisky buff by any means, but I didn’t feel talked down to or lost, so it was pitched right for me. I learned that adding a few drops of water really can open up the flavours of your whisky as it takes off the alcohol burn.

The creativity in the food was really great. The only problem was trying to make sure there was still something left in your glass by the time the food came out (which we solved by ordering more whisky). The main was very generously sized and I was worried I wouldn’t have room for dessert, but it turns out fresh banana chips are actually bloody delicious (more like french fries rather than those atrocities they put in muesli), especially when dipped in tonka bean ice cream (which is kind of like vanilla) so that wasn’t too much of a problem. If they do a similar event next year – this was their first Wellington on a Plate event ever – do go along if you’re a whisky fan. But pack something for heartburn afterwards.



The Lock


Bike share comes to Wellington

by Alan on August 15, 2017 in Outdoors

Around town in the last few weeks you may have noticed some small black and green bikes with signage on them. These turn out to have been set free on the town by Mighty Share (a.k.a. MTShare), Wellington’s (if not New Zealand’s) first dockless bike sharing scheme.

MTShare bikes
These kinds of bike-sharing schemes have gotten very big overseas, very quickly: instead of being tied to special stands, the hire bikes are just scattered around the town and may be unlocked by a any potential rider who has a mobile phone and an account with the bike share scheme.

The idea first originated in China and has spread to many other countries in the last six months or so, not always with uniformly positive results.

Here in Wellington though, the launch is a bit smaller, with 18 bikes of a fairly basic quality, but at least equipped with a wide range of gears as befitting our landscape. At the moment usage of the service is free; and helmets are provided (though this latter point is not without a certain ick-factor, YMMV).

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More posts…

WOAP 2017: Portlander

by Joanna August 12, 2017

The Portlander at the Rydges Wellington is well-known for its beef – they are a steak restaurant after all. So of course their newish head chef decided to do a chicken burger for Wellington on a Plate, because it was his chance to do something different. I was lucky enough to be invited in to […]

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Preview: Caging skies

by librarykris August 11, 2017

Opening tomorrow night at Circa Theatre is the world premiere of Caging Skies. It’s a “haunting story of love and obsession that explores truth and lies at both political and personal levels.” “Johannes, a zealous member of the Vienna Hitler Youth, discovers a fateful secret – his family is hiding a young Jewish woman, Elsa, […]

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If you’re a food business, enter the Good Food Boost

by Joanna August 9, 2017

When the world seems so gut-wrenchingly awful and determined to crush the most vulnerable even further into the ground it’s kind of hard to write about events and launches and delicious food (yes, truly we are the ones suffering, etc. Not). So if we can spotlight people doing good work, like Epuni School’s Unity Garden I […]

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Preview: The Swimmer

by librarykris August 7, 2017

“The Swimmer” is a story of love between two young women who are both professional swimmers. Despite their love for each other their story is not simple. Anna’s mother is deeply involved in her life and she works tirelessly to shape her daughter to be the successful swimmer she never was. She will do anything to make sure […]

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Film : Where There Is Life

by Martha Craig July 31, 2017

The task of caring for his terminally ill wife Margaret falls squarely on the broad shoulders of Stephen Lee. He would not have it any other way. Wellington film maker Gwen Isaac’s observational documentary was shot over the four years following Eastbourne woman Margaret’s diagnosis with motor neuron disease. We watch as the focus of the […]

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Review: One Night Only

by librarykris July 20, 2017

“The world’s most famous boy band, FourEver, is nearly ready to take the stage for their only New Zealand show. All that stands in their way is each other, their fans, the media, and the ghosts of their dodgy past.” Stella Reid directs this Young & Hungry play by Finnius Teppett. In her Director’s note she describes […]

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