Life-Saving Brunch at Wellington’s Maranui Life-Saving Club

This year’s Jim Beam Homegrown was a wild day of booze, bands, bar-spitting and banter. I think everybody, even people who didn’t attend, felt the forceful brunt of a full ‘11 hours’ worth of drinking’ hangover the next day. Which is where I have to send my blessing and thanks to whomever invented the delicious and astoundingly convenient weekend meal, brunch (turns out brunch originated in the 19th century to bring relief to ‘Saturday party-goers’ – and we are still VERY relieved to this day). Enough about this history of brunch (just Wikipedia it) – and onto my very own brunch adventure, at wellington’s own Maranui Café.

When I say the words Maranui Café, I would say about 10 people in earshot would perk up and say ‘Brunch?!?!’. Yes. It’s really that famous in Wellington for their impeccable brunch fare, and after dragging myself there last Sunday – I’m now tummy-triggered for brunch when somebody mentions Maranui too (Damn – I’m hungry now). The last time I came here, was about 8 years ago, which was waaay too young to appreciate the fantastic flavours and sensational skill. So, waking up Sunday morning, tired, hungry and decaffeinated – Maranui was my beckoning call.

We arrived there, and to my surprise the place was jam-packed and there were still 2 parties eagerly waiting their turn at a table in front of us – luckily, this gave us time to choose our meals – unluckily, this just made the wait for food long (what can they say, Maranui is what the people WANT!). At long last we got seated inside the bustling abode, and to avoid adding any extra time onto the 40-minute-food-wait, ordered INSTANTLY. 2 white coffees on the rocks (with a little sugar *wink face*), a portion of their finest buttermilk stacked pancakes, and a victory breakfast – with the real victory being able to get a seat in this place amirite!

Let’s just say they weren’t lying about the 40-minute wait, as I think my stomach had actually started to eat itself by the time the food came. But also, let’s just say people are not lying when they say that Maranui has the best lunch food FULL STOP. When I got that stack of thiccc buttermilk pancakes placed in front of me, my stomach filled with butterflies – the good kind of course!

Imagine this: a 3-stack of fluffy buttermilk pancakes with a big dollop of tangy mascarpone cream, berry compote drizzled all over each stack with fresh bananas sandwiched between the layers, and some of their house-made muesli to add a little crunch to the dish. Never have I ever thought I could apply the lyric ‘Drippin’ with Finesse’ to a dish, but I’ll be damned, because this one was it. I can’t apply this lyric to the taste though, because literally NO song lyric could sum up just how incredible these sour, sweet, fruity, savoury, and spiced flavours burst on my palette. The victory breakfast was also a victorious affair, with literally every good part of a classic fry-up being made vegetarian, with some added sides including fresh guacamole, tangy pesto, and a mexicano take on the classic baked bean – a bite of these all together with the poached eggs, grilled tomato and shroomies was a flavour-match made in heaven!

Let’s sum this all up into one easy equation; Fabulous location with spectacular views + super kind & attentive staff + food that I could dream about forever = an unquestionable 9/10 on the CCL scale. I know I’ve been awarding some big numbers out recently, but since starting up 2 years ago – Wellington has really upped their brunch business into something quite exciting for us foodies, you never know when the next eggs bene is going to pop up!

The question is – where should I go next? Let me know in the comments, flick me an email, or hit me up on my gram to let me know where I should crawl to next.

Slice Of Heaven

Dave Dobbyn keeps on banging on about how some girls love is a ‘slice of heaven’ – but I don’t think he’s ever been to Heaven Pizza…

Round 2 of ‘Parents pay for all my meals’ commenced last Saturday night. They had already taken us out for a wicked lunch at Karaka Cafe (link to that blog post is here ), and even though we were feeling as stuffed as a turkey on Christmas after that feast – the offer of them taking us out for dinner AS WELL was a rarity, and one too good to decline.

My parents left it down to me to decide where to wine and dine – I don’t know why, its like they think I run a food blog or something?? Even with my knowledge of restaurants, it still turned out to be a stressful and intricate operation. After dinner we were going to watch my sister in a play called ‘Almost Sober’ at club 121 – which was actually the dopest play I’ve ever seen (you’ll agree if you watched it too!) – so it had to be somewhere close so we could scoff the food, down the drinks and get to the play on time. After much deliberation with the family (having so many siblings makes it 10000000x harder), I set my sights on Heaven Woodfire Pizza – a place I had never been to before, but every time I walked past I made sure to eye up everybody’s mouthwatering meals – which was now going to be my destiny! Having a table for 10 sure made it snug, but the ambiance of this place and the family-oriented nature of Italian pizza culture made it super fun, energetic and homely!

After all the reunions and small talk – it was time to hit the booze (anybody else crave alcohol when with their family? Just me? Cool. Carry on.), so I started off with a crisp apple cider – which throughout the meal became 2 crisp apple ciders! Then came the best and worst part – choosing which pizza I was going to stuff my face with. After having a cheeky geez at other peoples pizza, we decided the old 1-between-2 method was going to be juuuuust fine – and I even let my boyfriend choose the pizza toppings (girlfriend of the year or WHAT)! In the end, he chose the jam-packed veggie pizza, and man when that bad-boy was laid down in front of us, I knew he had picked the right one. When cooking, I’m all about using a few ingredients and making them shine, however when it comes to vegetarian pizza, I want ALL THE TOPPINGS – and this puppy more than delivered. The combination of Aubergine, Capsicum, Olives, Mushroom, Sun-dried Tomato, Onion, Mozzarella, Pine Nuts, Oregano, all scattered over a crispy woodfired pizza made my tongue tingle, my heart warm, and my stomach sing! I also have to give a cheeky shout-out to the halloumi pizza – that one bit of added cheese took that pizza to an 11/10!

You can imagine after everything I’ve said about Heaven Pizza that I’m going to give them a hefty rating – and you’re not wrong! The pizza is some of the best I’ve ever had, the drinks got me VERY merry, and the people were super chill and onto it with their service. So naturally, I’m going to give them a bloody solid 9/10! I also love how this place has pretty much unlimited options for toppings – there is literally a pizza for everyone AND they’re at a super good price too! If you are feigning a pizza, definitely don’t overlook Heaven Woodfired Pizza for a more ‘Prestigious’ and ‘authentic’ restaurant, as Heaven can deffo hook you up with a feed that satisfies that craving.

The Perfect Pasta?

Now that university is all done and dusted, I literally have done nothing but work and go out with friends for food – but hey, its blog research right? My bank account seems to argue, buuut sometimes you gotta go into overdraft to provide you guys with the best recommendations of where to spend your money and fill your tummy!

If you live in Wellington or have visited wellington over the past few weeks, then you might’ve heard of a new little pasta place called 1154 Pastaria – and if you haven’t, can you please surface from that rock you’ve been living under! People have been going OFF about this place; friends, family, fellow food bloggers – all mind blown at how this little Italian eatery popped up out of nowhere and serving $12 pasta. So, naturally, being the food-blogging sheep I am, I had to try this place and see if these banging reviews are true or just fake news.

I came here with 3 other of my girls, which I instantly knew was a mistake. This place doesn’t take bookings which can make it VERY difficult to find a table – especially as it is always full to the brim. If you come here as a couple you’ve got a better chance, but definitely keep it to a 4-person maximum – otherwise you’ll be eating on the streets. Eventually we got ourselves a spot and pored over their much-anticipated menu. All their pastas and anti-pastas sounded delectable – with plenty of vegetarian, dairy free and gluten free options that don’t cost any extra. I was also gobsmacked their prices – with their most expensive item on the menu being only $17 – that’s INSANE for a massive bowl of pasta!

In the end, I decided to try out their cheapest menu option, their $12 pesto pasta just to see if they deliver as much value with their cheapest options as their more pricier dishes – and I was also persuaded by the cashier to get one of their garlic buns to mop up any excess sauce (makes sense, right??). I have to say, I was a little disappointed by both the pasta and the bun. The pasta was perfectly cooked, and the pesto sauce was tasty, however it was incredibly oily, and it was just pasta and sauce which made it very carby and filling – there is definitely potential for it to pack more excitement and flavour, with maybe the addition of some cherry tomatoes or spinach, which I would 100% pay extra for. Now, onto the bun. I feel like you can’t call something garlic bread if the whole bread itself doesn’t have the garlic flavour, and this was the case with the bun – the top was coated in a lush and flavourful garlic glaze, but the rest of the bun was plain and disappointing. My friends got the spinach ravioli and the bacon carbonara, which both gave me major food envy as they were DELICIOUS – so maybe I just chose the wrong dish!

I think for my visit to 1154, I have to give them a 6/10. Their pasta was nice, their location and ambience cosy and lively, however their buns were disheartening, and their lack of table-bookings creates a real conundrum for group outings. I feel like I may have to visit this place again to try out the other pastas on their menu, and their much talked about hazelnut cake, and maybe I’ll change my mind on my final CLL scale verdict. Don’t let my slightly negative review turn you away from this place – as it is a cute and authentic Italian eatery that is perfect for couples to come and have a hearty meal after a long day – however you will need to order the more expensive meals on the menu for real value, and don’t even consider their buns!

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.

A Fiftieth Foxglove Feast

Birthdays are a joyous occasion to throw away a little cash with friends and family and celebrate, however it’s not every day you turn 50, so to commemorate my Dad’s 50th, we pulled out all the stops! My parents had traipsed up to Wellington for Dad’s birthday as my siblings and I all live here, therefore us kids were restlessly researching places to take our dad to properly toast the big 5-0. We wanted somewhere with a drool-worthy menu, a classy ambiance, and one with great views and good reviews. After pretty much trawling through the whole internet, we all decided that the place that best met our tough criteria was; Foxglove. Continue reading A Fiftieth Foxglove Feast

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

Prefab Palavers

I took the café crawl back to Wellington for a few days as after an incredibly grueling few weeks of work I needed a detox – and what better way to detox than to go to a city with the best foodie hot-spots! I’ve lived in Wellington for a few years now, however I am constantly stunned by the number of city-famous places that I haven’t tried and tested. I met up with a few of my girls to go and have lunch, and received faces of pure shock when they found out I had never been to Prefab. I guess my inexperience with this wellington foodie hub made the decision of where to grab a bite to eat much easier! Continue reading Prefab Palavers

Ready for this Jelly(fish)

January has been a flipping busy month I tell you! I was in desperate need of a foodie outing, as was my blog, and somehow my mum read my mind and asked if I wanted to pop out for a bite to eat. I don’t actually think I verbally responded to her bequest, instead I just ran for the car excited at the prospects of yummy food and good mother daughter catch up time (and not having to pay for any of it). The sun was shining and it was an absolute scorcher, so we drove down to the beautiful Mapua Wharf to see what place took our fancy! Continue reading Ready for this Jelly(fish)

Good Morning Morri Street!

Ah Christmas. The time for giving, love and cheer. In our family, Christmas represents a time where we can love, give and cheer, but also argue, fall-out and cry. This morning we were all up early, rushing around to pick up ANOTHER sibling from the airport, and then venturing into Nelson to do some Christmas shopping. After about 3 fights, 1 cry, losing mum, getting NOWHERE with presents, we all agreed that we were in need of a feed.

Continue reading Good Morning Morri Street!

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