I dated a Kiwi for 3 years. His mum was a chef and I always knew we were in for a treat whenever we ‘popped next door’ to New Zealand for a visit. It’s been some time since I’ve ventured outside the bubble of Sydney and admittedly I had become rather ignorant about the food scene outside of the hood. Attending the WLG Wellington pop-up dinner on Wednesday made me consider reigniting my love affair…with New Zealand that is. Best of all I didn’t even need to leave the 10km radius of my beloved 2010 and Wellington was gracious enough to save me the airfare.
Between 14th-26th September Kings Cross will be home to some of Wellingtons top chefs and restaurant owners who have crossed the ditch to share their skills at a pop-up restaurant in the old Bayswater Brasserie. Four chefs, one pop-up restaurant, a bar and a few hundred Sydney diners will be lucky enough to enjoy this unique dining experience. Having missed out on tickets I was lucky enough to join fellow bloggers to see what the fuss was all about and compare notes.
Cooking for us on Wednesday was the very talented Mr Jacob Brown. Jacob is no stranger to the Sydney food scene. He was Head Chef at Tabou restaurant for seven years. Unfortunately we lost him to Wellington where he now runs his own restaurant The Larder. Perhaps it’s the chip on my shoulder or competitive rivalry with our little brother country but I did get some satisfaction when he confessed he misses Sydney!
Meeting at the pop-up bar we sampled a number of New Zealand wines including the Palliser Estate Sauvigonon Blanc which was memorable and wasn’t the last glass I’d have for the evening.
Being seated at the front of the restaurant I was amongst some familiar faces on the foodie scene including my favourite cocktail connoisseur Mr Barzine, who made for an entertaining evening. I think he mentioned his beloved cat 5 times while we waited for the first dish of our 3-course meal to arrive.
The pop-up restaurant had an almost market feel with fresh produce lay through out. The fit out was warm, cozy and had an amazing energy in the air. It was obvious the staff were just as excited to share in the experience as the diners.
The first dish to arrive was the tasting plate shared between two that included:
- Lot eight spiced olives
- Citrus cured regal king salmon gravlax w wassabi panna cotta
- Fried goat’s cheese balls w manuka honey and kiwi chutney
- Crispy west coast NZ white bait, grilled asparagus w chopped egg and caper mayo
- Venison rillettes w spiced pear and watercress
The white bait and the fried goat’s cheese balls were my favourite. I particularly liked the manuka honey chutney as a nice compliment to the flavorsome cheese balls.
Next we had the hard task of selecting one main from the mouth-watering menu. I’d heard from a few food bloggers that the venison was the way to go. I wasn’t disappointed. How often do you see venison short loin in puff pastry w portobello mushrooms, smoked bacon, sage and peppercorn sauce on a menu?
Fortunately my fellow food bloggers completely understood when I asked to photograph their meals for your viewing pleasure!
Portobello mushrooms and swiss chard baked in filo w braised fennel, olives, goats curd and green lentils
Snapper fillet with CLoudy Bay diamond clams, baby peas, fennel, crayfish butter and chervil
I have a massive sweet tooth and it wouldn’t be an indulgent dinner without an indulgent desert to finish the evening. Let’s not tell my personal trainer about this one but who could resist the whittaker’s chocolate mojo coffee praline bombe alaska with raspberry consomme? Certainly not me! I applaud Jacob for such a delectable creation worth boarding a plane and traveling for.
Unfortunately Jacobs ‘shift’ is up and it’s on to the next Kiwi chef to turn on the charm and spoil Sydney foodies. Next up is Shaun Clouston, Head Chef of Logan Brown until the 19th September when Tom Hutchison from Capitol will take over and turn up the heat. Finishing the foodie love affair is Rex Morgan Co-Owner and Chef at Boulcott St Bistro.
Tickets have sold out but there is space for walks ins so do try your luck, if not you can head to the bar for a drink but this may just be a big tease if you can’t eat the food. Alternatively, get on a place for 3 hours and you can try it all yourself in Wellington…Kiwi lover in tow is of course optional.
WLG Pop-Up Dinner
September 16th-26th September
32 Bayswater Road, Kings Cross