welly on a plateWe didn’t present you with suggestions for events to book, I know. That’s partly because they all sell out so quickly, but mostly because I think the Dine menus are really the best opportunity to truly sample Wellington’s hospitality. So, with things kicking off tomorrow, and 108 options on offer, where should you go and what should you eat? Here’s my thoughts.

Go to Ti Kouka. Their soup last year, oh my stars. If you only do one Welly on a Plate menu this year, make it theirs. But don’t all go on the day that I intend to go, or THERE WILL BE TROUBLE.

Pulled pork is so hot right now. It’s on more menus than I can count. We remember back in the old days when pulled pork was a special thing you had to beg for at Monterey. Also: brisket is the new pulled pork.

Go for special menus that are actually special:
For example, while the food at Capitol is always great, and their service impeccable, their Dine Wellington options are the same as things on their regular menu. So save that for another time. I’ve also noticed that some places are offering pretty much the exactly the same thing as they did last year – looking at you, Pravda and Arthur’s. The rabbit pot pie was delicious, but I still think that’s cheating (and the pork crackling is waaaay too salty, and I say that as a salt lover).

A place I absolutely would not recommend though is Finc, who last year used their special Wellington on a Plate menu as an excuse to raise their prices. Likewise, we’d avoid Monsoon Poon because they’re dreadful and also Boulcott St Bistro because of the rudeness of Rex Morgan last year when he talked the whole way through Nadia Lim’s master class.

Meanwhile, we love, love, love the food at Hummingbird, but actually, I think their meat for two is a better offering than their Dine Wellington menu, so I would go there another time for that. (And also please go to former Hummingbird chef Glen Taylor’s excellent new restaurant Taylor’s in Petone – full review coming soon).

Won’t someone please think of the vegetarians?

If you don’t eat meat, I hope you’re in the mood for Parkvale mushroom risotto or haloumi, because they’re reoccurring features. St John’s at least offers Chestnut and butternut risotto, while Artisan offer up a whopping five different kinds of vegetarian burgers as sliders (they’re also doing a gluten-free event, but that’s sold out). Little Beer Quarter actually offers full-on vegan food, assuming you can actually get some service, which we couldn’t last year.

Drinking at lunch time?

As André Simon once said “Food without wine is a corpse; wine without food is a ghost; united and well matched they are as body and soul, living partners.”

Look, we know heaps of you are public servants, but the government won’t fall if you’re seen having one glass of wine (or two half glasses in the case of Arbitraguer, who get mad props for that allowing you to better match it to your food). Or maybe it will, and in that case, please do drink up. Assuming you like wine, of course.

Beers matched with food has become a big trend this year (when do we reach Peak Craft Beer? I can’t wait for Wellington to be less beardy), and Six Barrel Soda is a great offering on many menus for those who can’t or won’t drink booze.

Finally, if you’re curious about where I’m going, here’s a handy spreadsheet of my wishlist that I’ve shared so people can book themselves in with me. Shall we have lunch together? Awesome.