Not even a downpour of late afternoon rain could dampen the enthusiasm of diners at the opening night of the WLG Wellington pop-up restaurant in Sydney last night.
The old Bayswater Brasserie site has been transformed into a showcase of Wellington's finest produce, an impressive display of wines, chocolates and fresh vegetables creating a vibrant market atmosphere that spills throughout the cosy bistro.
Fresh produce that doubles as the chefs' larder
In the kitchen are Wellingtonian chefs who have been brought over especially for the pop-up restaurant's two-week duration. Sean Connelly pulls me into the kitchen to take a photo of him and current resident head chef, Jacob Brown, from The Larder, Wellington. Jacob's no stranger to Sydney, with an extensive CV that includes stints at Sean's Panaroma, Bennelong Restaurant, Hyde Park Cafe, Fuel Bistro, Echoes Boutique Hotel, and seven years at Tabou Restaurant.
Sean Connelly with Jacob Brown (The Larder, Wellington)
"Take another one!" Sean insists, and pulls Jacob a little closer.
He bounds over for a look and nods with approval. "Awww.... we look like a couple!"
Wellington food heroes in a photo shoot for Wellington on a Plate 2010
The atmosphere is casual if a little chaotic, although everyone seems happy to relax and join in the fun. Many of the staff are working together for the first time, and the kitchen is foreign to everyone. Tonight they are almost at capacity with 188 guests booked, a herculean feat given that this concept was only floated six months ago.
Diners beneath a photo of Wellington by night
Diners sit at communal tables below a huge print of Wellington by night. If you squint a little, you could almost convince yourself you were looking out a window onto Wellington Harbour.
No amount of detail has been spared in adding as many touches of Wellington throughout the restaurant. There are cookbooks by the door, a table groaning with bars of Whittaker's Chocolates and even little tiki pendants hanging from elegant water bottles on the shelves above the coffee machine. The mirror in the hallway is festooned with postcards and photos of everyday Wellington life, and in the bathroom you'll even find the liquid soap has been brought over from across the ditch.
Diners in the front dining room
Diners share a tasting plate for entree, then choose their own main. A set dessert and tea/coffee with chocolates is also included. Three courses costs $29 with wines priced at $7 per glass.
I'm dining with Suze and D, and between us we try the Giesen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008, The Doctor's Riseling Marlborough 2009 and the Giesen Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008.
Shared tasting plate:
- Crispy West Coast New Zealand white bait;
- Lot Eight spiced olives;
- venison rillettes with spiced pear and watercress;
- fried goat's cheese balls with Manuka honey and kiwi chutney;
- and citrus-cured Regal King Salmon gravlax with New Zealand wasabi panna cotta
Snapper fillet with Cloudy Bay Diamond Clams,
baby peas, fennel, crayfish butter and chervil
With Jacob Brown at the helm, I find a few similar dishes to the ones we'd sampled at the original pop-up in Wellington.
Venison short loin in puff pastry
with portobello mushrooms, smoked bacon, sage and peppercorn sauce
Making the bombe Alaska
Whittaker's chocolate and Mojo coffee praline bomb Alaska with raspberry consomme
The bombe Alaska is a new addition, a surprise combination of rich chocolate and coffee gelato smothered in a flambed meringue that tastes intriguingly salty.
Keen to try the WLG Wellington pop-up restaurant yourself? Then enter the Freebie Friday competition to WIN DINNER FOR TWO here. Entries will also be accepted by Facebook. Entries close this Thursday (tomorrow).
The WLG pop-up restaurant is fully booked however a limited number of walk-ins places have been allocated for each night, Tuesday 14 to Sunday 26 September 2010. These will be allocated on a first come first served basis. Dinner service starts each night at 6pm and costs $29 per person for three courses. More info at Time Out Sydney and the WLG Facebook group.
Otherwise sit back at relax at the WLG wine bar which will be serving New Zealand wines and cheese for $15 per person. No bookings are required for the wine bar. The wine bar is open from 5pm weekdays, and from 3pm on Saturday and Sunday.
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WLG Wellington Pop-Up Restaurant
Location: 32 Bayswater Road, Kings Cross
Open from Tuesday 14 to Sunday 26 September (closed Mondays)
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9/15/2010 02:38:00 am