Dining In Wellington, New Zealand
Wellington, New Zealand is a fairly small city for being national capital, only 412,500 inhabitants, by the most recent census. It is the world's windiest city, with an average wind speed of over 16 miles per hour or 26 km/h, and the world's southernmost capital of a sovereign state. Because it’s in the Southern Hemisphere things are opposite to the the way they are in the US. It’s summer in January and February. The northern cities are semi-tropical. They drive on the left, back to front of the US.
Because it has such a limited population, most restaurants are usually small by US standards. However, their size doesn’t mean that the cuisine isn't top notch. The Daily Meal's first stop was The Larder Restaurant, where we had a very fine pasta made in their kitchen and chatted with Jacob Brown, the principal chef and owner. Brown has opened a wall to the Larder’s cookery, so that diners can have a view of the chefs at work and have conversations with them about the cuisine.
The chef is very proud of his restaurant, located in Miramar, a suburb of Wellington, about 10 minutes from the city center. He and his partner, Sarah Bullock, have a unique philosophy. They source from local farms, exclusively, and use all parts of the animal. They call this “nose to tail eating” wherein all parts of the animal are honored and utilized. The Larder has been open for several years in a converted home near a town called Weta. Weta is where Sir Peter Jackson has created supply shops for his New Zealand films. Like the other spots we dined at in Wellington, the Larder is very small, less than about 50 seats.
Shepherd Elliot is the owner of two restaurants in Wellington. The Daily Meal met him in the Leeds Street Bakery, a small place seating no more than 15 customers. They make their muffins and breads and sweets from organic and local ingredients.
Dinner that night was at Rita Restaurant at 89 Aro Street in Wellington. It’s a tiny place built into the living room of a small villa. It’s a place with no menu, so, go with an open mind and be willing to try new things. The chef and co-owner at Rita, Kelda Hains, owns her own restaurant, the Salty Pidgin Bistro, on Todman Street, in Brooklyn– a section of Wellington five-minutes away from the city center. We lunched there the next day and discovered that the menu had choices from beef schnitzel to marinated chicken thigh.
The last dinner of the trip was held in Shepherd Restaurant. We enjoyed custard with a bacon vinaigrette and toast, Cloudy Bay clams, pork broth, nduja, and grilled bread.