When Alastair and I went to Wellington the other weekend, my parents happened to be there too and I happily accepted their offer to pick us up from the airport. My folks were staying with family friends, and since Alastair and I had a couple of hours to kill we went to hang out with them for a while.
The whole extended family was also there - and when I say extended family I mean three generations, which includes the grandma, three of her children plus their partners, eight grandchildren, half of whom have boyfriends, and three dogs. And us. In one house.
Everyone was gathered at the house for an early dinner. Alastair and I were meeting his father, Malcolm, for dinner later, so we weren't planning to eat. At least, that was our intention. We weren't prepared for the "persuasiveness" of a Chinese grandmother.
We tried to tell her that we ate on the plane, and that we were going out for dinner in an hour but she wouldn't take no for an answer. "Eat! Just a small amount! Go on!" We soon figured out that there was no way we were leaving the house without consuming something.
Which may explain why, when we eventually met up with Malcolm, we weren't that hungry! For dinner, Malcolm had booked us a table at St Johns Bar. Located on the Wellington waterfront, in the 1930s St Johns was an ambulance building, before being converted to a music venue and finally into a bar/restaurant. Inside it was very sleek – with a large dark chocolate timber bar in the middle of the room, and tables and chairs hidden away behind a partition in the back.
As we'd had the mini dinner, we skipped starters and went straight to mains.
Alastair ordered the Duo of Lamb ($34). On the plate were lamb cutlets, served medium rate, and braised lamb shoulder wrapped in rice paper with celeriac puree and redcurrant jus. It looked really good!
Malcolm had the fish of the day, which I think was grouper. He said that it was one of the best fish dishes he'd ever eaten - high praise!
And I ordered the pork belly. The pork belly had a manuka honey glaze and was served with sautéed green beans and fried potatoes ($29). The belly was nicely tender and you could definitely taste the flavour from the manuka honey, which to be honest didn't really work for me. And the crackling... oh the crackling... see it sitting on top of the pork tower? Doesn't it look AMAZING? It had the looks, but in reality it was incredibly hard. So hard that I had concerns about breaking my teeth!
(I managed to eat it in the end - I was very careful.)
For dessert, Alastair and I shared a serve of tiramisu. Malcolm ordered the same thing, and he was rather amused by the size of the plate versus the tiramisu. It was admittedly a small portion compared to the plate!
We had a very pleasant catch up with Malcolm - St Johns had a casual, unfussy atmosphere and the food was mostly good.
Details of more Wellington eats to come - including the discovery of my favourite Kiwi ice cream of all time - now in ice block form! Ohmy!
St Johns Bar
5 Cable Street
Phone: +64 4 801 8017