Not a bad spot for a catch up with friends. Or a post-work drink. Or a quiz night. Actually, Bethel Woods has a fair bit going for it! It has a super cool buzz, with its southern American decor down pat, a cute rooftop bar upstairs, and plenty going on in the restaurant itself. The soundtrack is always full of bangers, and the menu is reasonably priced with decent food (the quality is not the best, but it is better than average) and okay portions. It’s at the opposite end of town to basically everything else, which makes for a nice change, and it’s know to do host decent functions too. Not somewhere I would go out of my way (personally) to visit, but would never resist the suggestion of going there.
Wellington on a Plate 2017: boy that sure rolled around fast. This year, my focus was more on burgers than the events, although I did make a trip to Jano to experience their Dine Menu (as the Festival Dish winners last year, it felt rude not to!). Below is a brief summary of the eight burgers I indulged in, in ascending order.
Coming in at last place (or 8th in this case) was The Library. It was the only burger I had that was genuinely disappointing. After seeing photo of its supposed decadence blasted across social media, it was underwhelming to get the burger in real life and find that it was basically just chocolate flavoured bread with what felt like Neapolitan ice-cream. All the extras were present in such minuscule amounts we actually had trouble identifying them. It would have been better if it had cost $11, but the $19 we paid was just too much. Rating: 3/10
Seventh place is WBC. Somewhat hard to believe (and it actually received a highly recommended in the official competition), because I did really enjoy the burger. The flavours were bang on, and the chips were well seasoned and tasty. The only problem was there was only about 4 of them! Also I wasn’t entirely sold on the pork patty – somewhere between a glamorous pork schnitzel and a mince patty… it was nice, but maybe it could have been nicer. I also had the dessert, and in classic WBC style the dish was quirky and interesting with Asian influence. I was fascinated by the dessert with every mouthful! Rating: 6/10
Another burger whose flavours really hit the mark was the Haiku burger from The Ramen Shop (this place just continues to please!). Using Longbush Free Range Pork in a bao bun, it was basically like eating an over-sized dumpling! The textures teetered dangerously close to being too mushy, but thankfully the picked veges saved it by adding that essential crunch. I did hear feedback from others though that thought the texture just lacked, and I could see why. This was the first savoury burger, and at $14 I thought it was finish the competition ranked a whole lot higher than it did. Rating: 7/10.
Dillingers provided a pleasant burger and it slotted right in at number 5. Yet another pork burger (and it’s certainly not the last) this was on my short list of 5 based on description only going into the competition, so it was nice to see it retain its top five ranking after tasting. The bacon mayonnaise was delicious, I just thought the burger itself was a little small (the hearty portion of shoestring fries ensured we didn’t walk away hungry though) and the beer match was not quite as good as some of the others I had. Rating: 7.2/10
Last years winning beer and burger match sure put up a good fight for a repeat. Laundry never fails to please, especially when it comes to burgers. The Garage Project Hazelnut Bruin appealed from the get-go, and followed through nicely. The pork burger came with candied bacon and so many fries (unfortunately I didn’t really think the fries were particularly nice) but the beer battered pickles were a real winner. Very much a hearty American style burger, the flavours combined well. Rating: 8/10
In similar fashion, Five & Dime’s Impossible Burger was the epitome of an American cheeseburger with a hearty patty, gherkins and oh-so-much cheese. The only catch: the burger was completely vegetarian! To be perfectly honest, I went to Five & Dime too late to receive the actual Impossible Burger, instead we received the Not-So-Impossible Burger. No qualms though; it was the only burger I ate that made the official WOAP Top 5, and I can understand why all the vegetarians would have voted for it. It would sit higher on my list, except that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of cheesy greasy burgers. Having visited with my sweet-toothed gal pals, of course we got the dessert to finish! Each flavour and texture of the dish was perfect, similar to WBC’s dessert it had Asian influence, and was quirky and delicious. I just wish there had been more! Rating 8.5/10
Silver medal is awarded to Bebemos. Admittedly I’m considering more than just the burger itself (which was still pretty good) when I give it this rating, but the entire experience was absolutely epic, from start to finish. Done in good ol’ fashioned Happy Meal style, it came in a Garage Project Hapi Daze themed box, with everything individually wrapped, just as McDonald’s would. Convenient for Bebemos too, minimal dishes! The burger tasted like a home-made burger, with a fresh bun and a big dense patty (pork, but to me it tasted like beef), and it came with (sub-par) shoestrings and Hapi Daze beer battered nuggets. Also, we can’t forget the toy! Kudos to Bebemos who must have sourced goodness knows how many old school toys from back in the day. To finish up, we all got a soft serve ice-cream – and in a waffle cone too! Rating: 9/10
Overall winner (in my humble opinion) for the 2017 WOAP burger award goes to Neo. A pulled pork burger may be a simple concept nowadays, but when it’s done right, it is certainly hard to beat. And boy oh boy, Neo did it right. The chips were yum and the burger was better. The slaw was so fresh and delicious (the apple is just the best addition). Hopefully Neo keeps this burger around for awhile, because I highly recommend y’all try it and I know I’ll be keen for round two! Rating: 9.5/10
Danger Danger is a retro-themed bar on Courtenay Place. Bordering on tacky, but with a certain charm about it, by day it serves up jugs, pizza and burgers and by night it turns into more of a club. Slightly unattractive is the stench of alcohol that hits you as you open the front door, but you soon look past it as your eyes hone in on the neon lighting, high tables and music videos screening from the walls. There is an upstairs part to it as well, so overall the place is pretty massive.
Danger Danger offers great bargains most nights of the week – whether it be two for one burgers, two for one pizza or cheap jugs, all of them make the food really great value. While the food itself is nothing to write home about, it’s better than average, so makes for a very cool spot to grab a drink with friends after work.
Waiheke Island is somewhere that I wanted to visit for a very long time before I actually got the opportunity to go there. Recently (August 2017) I went to visit my brother and mum up in Auckland and we made the journey across to Waiheke. The weather was pretty good; a relatively warm winter’s day with not much wind. We hopped aboard the hop-on hop-off bus (which I would entirely endorse if you are heading over for a day-trip) and made our way around the island. It was apparent that during the winter time lots of the wineries and cafes close their doors to do some maintenance & renovations etc which meant that when we got to Onetangi we were pretty stretched for choice. And by stretched, I mean we had no choice. However, our tour guide was strongly of the opinion that even if everything had been opened, Charley Farley’s is the place he would recommend anyway. We were happy to oblige.
Charley Farley’s had a very family friendly menu with quite a few options that suggested the menu was Asian influenced. There was also a large selection of standard beach bar food – burgers, fish and chips, salads and a bunch of slices and quiche in the cabinet. Even though the place was packed, it was big enough that turnover was sufficient to allow us the choice of sitting inside or outside. It was a nice enough day that we opted for outside.
Once making our choices we ordered at the bar and settled back to wait. We didn’t have to wait long for the food, considering how busy they were the food was surprisingly quick. We then had to eat our food quickly to ensure that the hovering seagulls didn’t nab it first. I had the fried chicken burger, and although I thought the chicken tasted like it had been cooked a bit earlier and just kept warm, the rest of the burger was tasty and there were plenty of chips. The fish and chips looked delicious, and the portions were massive.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner I expect that this place is pretty popular by the locals.
Formerly known as The Bach, this sea-side spot has beautiful views of the South Coast, which even stretch as far as the South Island on a good day. A great stop off before or after visiting the Red Rocks, The Beach House and Kiosk has a very reasonably priced menu and a range of seating both indoors and out. Don’t fear the cold if you sit outside; there’s a cute little basket full of colourful picnic blankets that make the chill even more cozy. There is a delicious array of baked goods on the counter-top, which is easy to miss until you are paying. The service was pretty good, even though it was really busy they accommodated our time constraints and never let us feel as though we had been forgotten about, despite there being a bunch of other tables to be looked after also. Although it’s not one of the South Coast stops I would detour specifically for (being the massive fan of The Botanist and Maranui that I am), I wouldn’t hesitate to go here either side of Red Rocks.
Active users of Facebook, Monterey is a place that is never far from the forefront of my mind when I think of meal options in Newtown. Famed for its burgers, its food is really cheap and the menu has a bit to choose from. In terms of food quality, I’ve had mixed reviews: I think the pulled pork burger was really great (the fried chicken not so much) and the onion rings were exceptional. The shakes are yummy, and although I haven’t had dessert there the people at the table next door had good things to say. One of my favourite things about it is that it it has board games (a decent range too) and paper on the tables so that you can noughts and crosses a rainy afternoon away. I would probably never go there for the food itself, but would go there for a variety of other reasons.
Uluwatu; the ultimate southern point of Bali – most famous for its surf, and understandably so. But with good surf comes Australians, and inevitably, good food. Uluwatu is quite a spread out area; you definitely need a scooter to get around – which is handy not just for beach hopping, but also for cafe hopping.
The beach bunny that I am means that I tend to migrate towards accommodation options that mean I can situate myself as closely to the beach as possible. In the case of Uluwatu this means staying near Padang Padang, Bingin Beach or Dreamland Beach. In this instance we chose Padang Padang Beach; small and overcrowded, but otherwise idyllic.
The best spot we ate at in Padang Padang is Bukit Cafe. While the food wasn’t the cheapest, it certainly wasn’t the most expensive, and it was worth every dime. It still wasn’t as expensive as what you’d pay in New Zealand – probably between $5 – $15 for a meal, so I would happily pay the same again. The Bukit Cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and also offers drinking water for free (and it won’t make you sick!). With outdoor and indoor seating, it has an overall chilled vibe, a place where I would find it easy to pass the time. Our favourite meal was a burger special: the pulled pork burger with a black sesame bun, and french fries.
Just down the road from the Bukit Cafe (same side of the ride, heading towards the beach) is Trattoria, hosted within the Pink Coco’s resort. The space and vibe here is definitely the highlight. It is massive, and has both cool seating areas inside and out. With large comfy seats and tables there is something for everyone. The menu is (obviously) Italian and is several pages long. While we were deciding we were treated to some bruschetta, which always goes down well, but especially as a budget traveller.
Pizza is always a safe option, and the pizza that was ordered was mostly pretty good. You can order pizza for one, or pizza for ‘2 or more’ (which was a good size for 2 to share as a main, but it would only feed more if you weren’t hungry / were buying other food). One of the pizzas we ordered came with chilli on it, and there was certainly no shortage! The pizza was so spicy we actually had to buy another bottle of water. Some of the more adventurous ordered meat dishes – which although presentation was a little average, the food itself tasted okay. On the whole the place was pretty expensive, but for once we walked away full – so it was overall a pleasant experience.
Last but not least, The Cashew Tree. For me, this was probably my favourite dining experience in the whole of Bali. Located nearby (but not on) Bingin Beach, the Cashew Tree is fresh, delicious and beautiful. It is spread around a courtyard, with a range of seating including picnic tables, open bungalows and sprawling couches.There are spots both in the sun and shade and the middle of the courtyard is home to a large grassy area, which I suspect (but don’t know for sure) serves as the stage for live bands (Thursday nights) and yoga.
The menu is healthy, need I say more. The range of meals and ingredients available inspires confidence in the quality of the food – and rightfully so. Between the group we ordered an array of different juices and smoothies (all of which cost about IRD50) which were all cold and freshly made. We also ordered a variety of meals for lunch – my Burrito Bowl was the best meal across my two weeks in Bali. It was plentiful; an abundance of freshness and colour. The prices for meals were no more expensive than anywhere else. I would definitely recommend The Cashew Tree and was disappointed that I didn’t get to come back for dinner.
Other places in the area that we heard were also good are Buddha Soul (Pedang Pedang) and Nalu Bowls for breakfast, and on Wednesdays, Single Fin – a bar with incredible views.
The Abory (Flinders Street Railway Station, 1 Flinders Walk)
With gorgeous views stretching across the river, The Arbory provides a great hang-out spot at all times of the day. It has a menu that boasts classic dishes with modern twists, and you can eat here for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Everything is reasonably priced and you can sit almost anyway along the riverside, the place stretches on for so long. It also seems to be a very common destination for after-work drinks; probably partially due to its proximity to the train station! I like it in the mornings for its more peaceful vibe, but I wouldn’t hestitate meeting people here at any time of the day.
Lyall Bay’s latest addition, The Botanist, is off to a cracker of a start. It only opened in January 2017, and already I feel like most people I have spoken to have either been there or it’s on their to-do list. A few of us headed out there the other weekend to give it a test. Located on the corner, very close to Maranui, the cafe seems to have been converted from what looks like a house. There is a lot going on; patterned floors, lots of (fake) shrubbery and ivy, and also a rustic setting with a wall of (fake) bricks. It is light and spacious, with a nice courtyard area that seemed pretty sheltered (but who knows in Wellington!?).
We got a bit of a shock when we looked at the menu – we knew that it was supposed to vegetarian and vegan friendly, but we didn’t realise that it was strictly that – no meat whatsoever! Not that any of us were opposed to eating vegetarian, it was just odd to have that choice taken away from us. The menu was very interesting; lots on there tempted me! In the end I couldn’t resist the haloumi, mainly because I really felt like fries, but also because I was starving and I wanted to make sure it was going to be a big enough meal.
When we ordered, our waitress advised us of the 40 minute wait – which we presumed was on the conservative side, but she wasn’t kidding. Not that any of us had places to be – but the cafe just didn’t seem quite busy enough to justify that long a wait. We put it down to them still finding their feet, and it was worth the wait: the food was delicious. (Admittedly, none of us was keen to try the soy sausages or the facon (‘fake bacon’) so that part of the menu remains to be reviewed…)
Being so close to my work, my friends and I here frequent Neo often for a) breakfast, b) coffee, c) lunch or d) all of the above. I love Neo for the decor; its trendy, simple and has lots of natural light, which is exactly what I love in the mornings. The cabinet and menu are both always interesting; definitely something for everyone, but always something new to try too.
The coffee is tasty; I love having the option of bottomless filter, although on the occasions where I have requested it for breakfast I’ve had regrets – it takes so long for them to make that initial brew, that I always wish I had just ordered a normal espresso like everyone else.
My biggest fault with Neo is the service; I’ve had the vibe sometimes that it is a little understaffed. I have found myself waiting ages for the menus etc to be brought over to our table, and then ages again until our actual order is taken. It’s not bad enough to put me off going there!