Top 8: Burger Wellington 2018

The 2019 WOAP burgers have been announced, and HECK is there a lot of competition (thank god I don’t work hospo anymore). In light of the recent announcement, I thought I’d share a little bite-size breakdown of my top 8 Burger Wellington’s from 2018:

The Library – A Royal Gala: Apple tarte tatin patty with panko-crumbed leche fritter, rhubarb and burnt cinnamon cream in a cinnamon spiced bun. This was by far one of the most innovative burgers I tasted last years WOAP. I HATE dessert pizza, so I was kinda’ sceptical about this one, but holy moly. Just one bite of this blissful burger paired with a sip of their mango milkshake IPA milkshake was enough to send you to heaven. The only dessert burger I tried, but the best burger I tried.

The Botanist – The Incredible Hulk: Broccoli and pistachio patty with smoked vegan cheese, slaw, avocado, apple and kiwifruit salsa verde and herb aioli in a Pandoro spirulina bun, with beetroot crisps. This burger was the literal mean-green-vegan version of the Hulk, and I’m sure it’s something that Mark Ruffalo himself would be more than happy to sink his teeth into. The hero of the dish? That apple and kiwifruit salsa. It added the perfect pop of freshness and tartness to the burger, complementing the richness of the patty, avocado and cheese.

Monsoon Poon – Son of Siam: Thai coconut-glazed tandoor fish with lettuce, lemongrass and coriander mayo, and lime-pickled cucumber in an Arobake bun, with spiced crisps. This burger was awesome. The spicy and rich fish fillet was enough to light a fire on your tongue, but that lemongrass mayo came to the rescue, and cut through that spice perfectly – making you want to go back for another bite, and another. The burger also came with some spiced crisps, which definitely weren’t the star of the plate, but were a nice addition.  

Beach House and Kiosk – The Crusty Crab: Spicy soft-shell crab, pickled cucumber and seaweed salad, wild rocket, nam prik and furikake, with fries. THIS. THIS WAS IT. If I didn’t go to The Library and try their burger, this would have been my 2018 WOAP winner. Dockside tried to do a similar burger(which I also tried), but it wasn’t a patch on what Beach House served. Every single ingredient brought an element of freshness, spice, bitterness, sweetness, tartness, sourness to this burger, and to this day, it has still been the best savoury burger I’ve ever tasted.

WBC – Mao Khaang Burger: Thai fish cake with cucumber, chilli, mint, quick pickle, and nam jim mayo in a grilled milk bun, with sweet chilli fries. Now I froth a $3 fish cake from the supermarket, so when I heard Wholesale Boot Company was doing a fish cake burger, I knew I was in for a treat. The flavour of the fishcake was unlike any I had had before, and it really worked as a burger patty. However, the chips really took the cake. I don’t know what was in that sweet chilli seasoning, but I need more and I need it now. Best chips of the competition, hands down.

Mount Vic Chippery – Tuk Tuk Tarakihi: Prawn floss and kaffir lime-crumbed tarakihi with bean sprout, peanut and coconut salad, herbs and Sriracha mayo in a Pandoro squid-ink bun. For a place that specialises in Fish & Chips, I had high expectations for this burger – especially after reading its bougie summary. But as always, our much loved Chippery Chaps delivered a mean burger that kicks any other fish & chip shops ass. The Asian flavours and texture were an awesome match for the Tarakihi fillet, and that soft squid ink bun was definitely the best bun choice.

Leroy’s – The Ghost of Zorro: Pork chorizo patty with mango chutney, Kāpiti Smoked Havarti cheese, saffron aioli and rocket in a Zaida’s Bakery squid-ink bun, with dirty fries and gravy. This was the only meat burger I tried last year (as you know I’m mainly pescatarian), but to be honest, I reckon I broke my diet for a decent burger! Though there weren’t many elements in the burger, all the flavours still packed a punch and delivered a fire flavour combo. The mango matched the chorizos spice wonderfully, and the aioli acted as a tasty coolant against the sizzle.

Artisan – Kapiti Fish Fillet Burger: Panko crumbed smoked tuna in a soft milk bun with gribiche mayo and Kāpiti Aorangi Brie, with kūmara chips and beetroot ketchup. This was probably one of the most interesting burgers I tried, as it used ingredients and elements that I would’ve never paired together. The crunchy-fishy tuna patty packed a super strong aroma, which the gribiche mellowed down nicely with its creamy and rich eggy flavour. The chips I didn’t think matched the burger all that well, but on their own they were a tasty snack, and that beetroot ketchup was TO DIE FOR!

So that’s my summary of 2018, but let’s not dwell on the past. The 2019 WOAP schedule is out, and it is NOT playing. This year is going to bigger and better than ever, and with the split of festival dish and burger wellington, I am going to be one broke foodie. Stay tuned.

Cuisine Française à Gisborne?

Gisborne doing cuisine other than all sauces? I am shocked to say that it turns out Gisborne does have a little international culture! My little tiki tour trip to Gizzy happened to coincide with the famous French Bastille day – which I’ve never personally celebrated before, but apparently the people from Gisborne are all for it! The Marina Restaurant is Gisborne’s only French restaurant, and every year they hold a HUGE degustation dinner full of famous French dishes to celebrate Bastille day. My bf’s parents ended up buying us tickets – and who would turn down an opportunity to drink and taste some of the best French food, whilst also in French dress-up? Certainly not me, that’s for sure! So, we donned our berets and off we went to have a super dope degustation dinner.

As we walked in to the beautiful Marina restaurant, my eyes were instantly drawn to the MASSIVE croquembouche in the middle of the room, and I could tell this was going to be one hella good foodie night. The set menu was laid out on the table, with drink suggestions paired with each dish. A few of us on the table were vegetarian or vegan, and it was awesome to see that the chefs had created special versions of the set menu just for our dietary requirements.

After buying a few bottles of fancy French wine (which my bf and I probably drank waaay to much of), we were presented with our first course: escargot. I have never tried snails before, and the idea of trying it is a little off-putting, however these were paired with a super good basil pesto and toasted bruschetta which made them taste fabulous! The next course was a delicious French onion soup (very fitting) with toasted cheesy croutons which made the dish go from a 10 to a solid 11/10. After that we had a few more bottles of wine – which were also downed very fast by my boyfriend and I – and a cheeky little palette cleanser of a gin and quince sorbet which was superbly refreshing and tasty, and prepared our taste buds for the main course event. The set menu had duck confit as their main, however my boyfriend and I are pescatarian, so they whipped up a lush poached fish dish that was to die for – the fish was perfectly flaky, paired with a tangy lemon sauce and crunchy seasonal veg, you can’t fault it! For the dessert they served up a little buffet with apple Tarte Tatin, opera cake, and of course the prized Croquembouche. The Tatin was fruity and sweet, the Opera cake rich and moreish, and the Choux buns from the Croquembouche crunchy on the outside and filled with a delicious crème patisserie – each dish executed perfectly.

The evening was definitely one that I won’t forget – and I’m kind of surprised I still remember it after all the wine I had! Both the chefs and the FOH at the Marina really put on a show for bastille day, and because of their fantastical food, perfectly paired drinks and the pièce de résistance croquembouche – I have to award them an 8/10 on the CCL scale. I experienced this place when they were all putting on their best fare, however I am sure that on any normal day or evening the food, service and ambience would still boast that true classic continental charm.

Hula at The Lula

I don’t know if you heard, but Ed Sheeran arrived in New Zealand a few weeks ago to conclude his ‘Divide’ tour, and as proud fans of this ginger guitar guru my Mum, my sister and I all flew up to the big smoke, Auckland, to admire his craft in the flesh. Of course, when you travel to a new city, there are three main must-do’s; explore the area, drop tonnes of money on shopping, and most importantly check out their food scene. Auckland has an incredible number of cafes, restaurants and bars that are all influenced by a variety of different cultures and cuisines – which made choosing a place to wine and dine for our Friday night dinner immensely difficult! After about an hour of trawling Zomato and other foodie platforms, we all came to an agreement to check out one of Auckland harbours hot-spots; The Lula Inn.

We didn’t really know what to expect with this place, after a few scrolls through their menu, gallery and tags on Instagram we managed to gage a vague idea of the vibe at The Lula Inn, however we completely underestimated the sheer buzz of this place. The restaurant is split into various little sections; with a dance floor and stage as you enter, an epic bar stacked with various alcohol, and then their dining area with indoor and outdoor tables. During the day I could imagine this place is a hip little lunch spot, but at night it transforms into a bustling social scene. This place gives off a South-Pacific style ambience with its botanical décor, dim mood lighting, and loud hip music; it’s a tropical dining paradise!

Since it was a girl’s night out (and mum was paying), cocktails were a must. Every time I have a cocktail, I like to try new flavours and combinations that I wouldn’t usually go for – however the possibility of getting a cocktail that I don’t like frightens me a little! All concerns aside, I crossed my fingers and ordered their ‘Golden Ivy’ rum-based tropical cocktail. A massive weight was lifted off my shoulders as I sipped this concoction, as it was mind-blowingly delicious and punchy, with a perfect mix of sweet passionfruit and sour limes – all topped off with a warm touch of white rum. Deciding on my dinner was less risky due to all the options sounding delectable, and as we had done so much pre-dining research I already had an idea of what my tummy was craving – their prawn and scampi spaghetti. I will always choose seafood above anything else on a menu, and the chef at The Lula Inn certainly did not disappoint my fishy taste buds by serving perfectly Aldante pasta smothered in a rich garlic burnt butter sauce that was laced with beautiful freshly caught prawns and scampi. This dish made my tummy and tongue want to sing ‘under the sea’ with how utterly gorgeous it tasted!

The first night in the big city with my mother and sister was made perfect by coming to this harbour-side haven. The ambiance was vibrant and loud which created the perfect environment to enjoy punchy cocktails and drool-worthy dinners. Putting my criteria to the test, I can confidently rate The Lula Inn a solid 8.8/10. With an endless drinks menu, tantalizing food menu, and a live DJ followed by a local band performing, this place created not only a cheerful and poppy atmosphere, but some exceptional dining memories. I had high hopes for the hospitality industry of Auckland from reading fellow foodie blog posts and social media updates – and my expectations were more than exceeded with the service I was given at The Lula Inn.

Livin La Viva Mexico

Holy Moly It’s been ages since my last blog post – university really does NOT hold back on the workload in third year! That being said, I always find time to sneak in a little dinner out every now and again, so I can give you guys recommendations on our bountiful Wellington eateries, and to also keep my sanity! A few weeks ago, I went out with my girls to celebrate one of their birthdays, and instead of choosing to go into the CBD for somewhere to eat, we decided to put our faith in our local Newtown dining scene to see whether It was up to scratch. I would never have thought Newtown would be a dining destination, however over the years I have seen more and more cafés and restaurants opening here and these places have been getting excellent reviews, so we thought why not! Being students, we didn’t want anywhere too expensive – so after a quick look on Zomato we decided upon one of Newtown’s favourite dining places – Viva Mexico.

I always walk past this place on my way to and from home, and when I peer in its always packed with people laughing, socialising, and above all eating some darn good-looking meals! I was excited to try this place out as I am a firm lover of Mexican food, and let me tell you, they do a service to this central American cuisine. The interior of this restaurant makes you feel like you have been transported right into a Mexican grandma’s home, with rustic floors, walls and décor; it’s a perfectly cosy place to enjoy a hearty meal. We were welcomed enthusiastically by each and every staff member, who made us feel more like guests at a dinner party rather than customers at a restaurant. After being seated, we poured at the menu to see what Mexican eats would take our fancy.

Starting with the drinks, I was recommended one of their imported fruity sodas, however as soon as my eyes glazed over the ‘chilli lemonade’ I knew instantly, that as a lover of all things spicy, I had to try it. It’s a drink that you either love or hate, and I loved it! The mix of the sweet bubbly lemonade with the punch of the bitter and hot chilli was a true palette cleanser that added a bit of spice to the evening – in my eyes a perfect accompaniment to a flavourful Mexican dish. Now, onto the main event – The food! Quesadillas are my all-time favourite Mexican meal, and I know it sounds like a safe option, I decided to stray from the classic by ordering the Mexican cactus stuffed quesadilla. All of my friends were put off by it, but I was intrigued by what this flora would taste like; and it was delicious! The cactus has a mellow and bitter flavour, not dissimilar to a green pepper which pairs well with the bean, mushroom and cheese combo sandwiched inside two warm, toasty tortillas. This was served up with a fresh salsa, crisp salad and spicy dipping sauce which created an absolutely mouth-watering meal – and only for $13, a student dream!

Newtown has really amped up their food scene, and Viva Mexico is a perfect example of one of the local restaurants that has deliciously drool-worthy meals on offer. This restaurant perfectly captures Mexican cuisine and culture, with their lip-smacking drinks, hearty home-style meals, and loud and joyous waiters and waitresses – they don’t just provide for a meal, they provide an experience. Weighing up all these factors against the Café Crawler Lucy criteria, I have no other option but to score Viva Mexico an 8/10. This place is perfect for everyone, from kids to adults, students to retirees – there is something for everybody to enjoy (mostly the prices for students). The only thing I would critique is the wait time – it was quite a busy night, so the meals took a while, however we didn’t get our drinks until after our meals had come, leaving us in a state of crazy hunger and thirst. In my eyes, Viva Mexico is not only one of the best cheap eats in Newtown, but the whole of wellington! If you find yourself too lazy to cook dinner, but too poor to eat out – look no further, Viva Mexico has got your back and will serve you up an awesome feed.

Dime-a-Dozen Diner Dinner

Last week my girls and I were met with the common dilemma that encroaches our day-to-day lives: Valentine’s Day. In my eyes, it’s a made-up holiday so Hallmark can sell some cards and chocolate makers can make millions; an absolute and utter cop-out of a celebration that does not need to be appreciated. Usually the 14th of February is a very intimate affair between my cat and I, however this year my girls and I decided to use Valentines as an excuse to go out for some wining and dining, all whilst mocking this horrendous holiday. With so many new restaurants that offer an abundance of different cuisines popping up in Nelson, we were spoilt for choice – but a 2-for-1 milkshake deal from Al’s Deli swayed us towards their classic American diner destination. Continue reading Dime-a-Dozen Diner Dinner

Wine and Dine on the Water

We were met with a little mid-week surprise last week – our family friends from Scotland who told us they were coming at the end of February decided to arrive a month early! Naturally, when guests come over you must show them the local hot-spots and hidden hideaways that makes our beautiful Tasman region an even more desirable place to come visit or live. For our guests’ last night of their stay in Nelson, we took them out to a restaurant that we hold very dear to our hearts and tummies; The Boat Shed. Continue reading Wine and Dine on the Water

Getting the Goods at Hopgood’s

Everybody has a certain special way they like to celebrate their birthday. For me, I like to toast my existence with good food, good drink, and good company! Now, you don’t turn 20 everyday, so I wanted to celebrate the big 2-0 at somewhere a little upscale, elegant, but also somewhere where I knew the food was going to be of an incredible standard. One place instantly came to mind regarding these criteria; Hopgood’s. Continue reading Getting the Goods at Hopgood’s

The Happiest Chippy?

Kaiteriteri has been spoiling us with beautiful weather recently, makes for a perfect location to enjoy evening nosh! Unfortunately there were no Chippie’s or Dairy’s open past 7pm at the beach, so we had to make a little pit stop along the way for our fish and chips fix. Luckily ‘The Happy Chippy’ had their doors wide open, and their chips certainly did live up to their name! Continue reading The Happiest Chippy?