Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wellington Pop-Up Restaurant

I am getting this post up awfully late, as there are but just a few precious days left of the Wellington Pop-up restaurant in Fitzroy, which closes up shop and goes back to land of rolling Lord of the Rings scenery, on the 27th of November.

WLG Pop-up gives us a slice of Wellington's finest food, produce, even service! Having taken over Rue de Fleurus in FItzroy, chefs, food, drink and waitstaff were flown over to entertain and seduce Melbournians to of course, eventually visit them in Wellington.

Well they've done well. The WLG Pop-up has successfully managed to get me continuously nagging Brad about taking a trip to New Zealand to have more Chocolate Pave. Seriously, ask him.

We were lucky enough that it was an absolutely beautiful Wednesday evening when we popped by at 6pm, greeted by a waiter with the best moustache I had ever seen.

I personally love the work they've done with the branding of the whole restaurant. Even though it was only two weeks, I was honestly quite surprised at how cohesive, playful and vibrant the overall look was. The menu, the banners on the wall, the little tickets in our glasses, every detail was paid attention to.

Absolutely everything was New Zealand tonight, even the water, I queried about getting tap water…but no, they served none of that here, that's Australian! Antipodes it was, not that I had a problem with that, I've always been smitten by the rather minimal and elegant glass bottle. I contemplated with Brad stealing it away in my bag later but thought that would be a little too crass…

I started with the Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc, which was a lively, fruity wine. A nice way to start the night.

Brad's MOA Pale Ale I found was also very refreshing, quite smooth and full.

The deal at WLG Pop-Up was $35 for three courses (steal anyone?!), a share plate appetiser, a main and dessert.

It wasn't long before our share plate came out, and like on the ark, everything were in very pretty pairs.

Our plate consisted of:

- Manuka salt cured lamb shortloin with beetroot, walnut and white balsamic salsa

- Grilled marlborough scallops, celeriac puree and pancetta crumbs

- Fried goat's cheese balls with manuka honey and kiwi chutney

- Maple syrup smoked Regal King Salmon with horseradish creme fraiche and tiny capers

- Pig's cheek 'schnitzel' with roast lemon chutney

Yum. Everything was yum.

Should I say more? Fine.

My favourite was easily the goat's cheese balls, totally crisp and perfectly round outside, but the cheese inside was just, divine. There's something about fried cheese that just doesn't fail. I loved the sweetness of the manuka honey with it as well, it was an interesting combination that really worked well.

The scallops were also exceptionally delicious, they tasted surprisingly earthy, from the celeriac puree. And that pig's cheek? I don't think I had ever had pig's cheek before, but after this, I need to find more of it. In much larger quantities. Salty, peppery and crisp on the outside but melt in your mouth soft inside. Yum.

Surprisingly for mains, Brad got the vegetarian option, and I went with lots and lots and lots of red meat. Was obviously feeling like a caveman that night.

However, the beetroot gnocchi with green asparagus, parmesan cream and truffle pecorino came with very, very high praise from the waiter with the best moustache I had ever seen in my life, who (quietly) rated it higher than the meat dishes. Sacre Bleu! But who can deny that moustache?!

Oh but it indeed was beautiful. I have never seen gnocchi that colour before, and I was smitten with the playful mix of colours. From the nibble (or three) that I had, I died for the truffled pecorino.

My main though, was also to die for. A braised lamb shoulder timbale, with dukkah-crusted lamb rack and wilted mixed greens with thyme and garlic braising liquor. Oh my lord. It arrived in front of me and things turned a little primitive. The best way to get the meat from the bones is to hold it in your own hands y'know!

I found the lamb rack a touch more cooked than I like it, but I like it quite pink. Despite that, it still had a lovely texture and was bursting with flavour. The lamb shoulder timbale though, was absolutely the star. It was beautifully seasoned, and so tender. Swoon.

I've very cleverly forgotten to record the red wines we were recommended, as I commented I liked a heavier Pinot Noir. We were instead directed to a Merlot and another blend I've forgotten, which we both enjoyed quite a bit. Unfortunately I was driving, so Brad was more than happy to slurp up whatever I couldn't finish…

Then it was, my favourite course, dessert. I don't ever understand it why Brad says that ice-cream and chocolate can't be a meal. Honestly!

We of course went one each, as it would have been a crime not to try both!

The Lioricello panna cotta, with vodka lime parfait and pistachio wafer was gorgeous. The panna cotta was as wobbly and smooth as you would expect it to be and had the other dessert not existed, this would have easily satisfied me.

Although as it was, how could you go past the Whittaker's dark chocolate pave with fresh raspberries, manuka honey cream and damson plum coulees. The only reason you wouldn't like this, is because you're allergic to chocolate. Seriously. It was smooth, rich but intensely dark, saving it from being too sweet. Every mouthful was just a dream and for a moment, my mind wafted away from the fact Brad was next to me, as I had a moment with the chocolate. I was so sad when it finished. So sad. Would die for that recipe. No wait, already died over the mains. Darn.

So now I certainly do hope that I can go to Wellington to have more dessert and of course, see the city and sights.

If you have a randomly free night in the next few days, until the 27th, I'd certainly encourage a stroll down Gertrude to see if you can score one of the outdoor unreserved seats, since all the tickets have unfortunately been sold out.

In the mean time though, I'm going to continue bugging Brad about that trip…

More posts about the pop up restaurant:

Iron Chef Shellie

Off the Spork

The Chronicles of Ms I-Hua

Melb: HOT or NOT

Wellington Pop-Up Restaurant
153 Gertrude Street