Our next Wellington on a Plate adventure was a cold Thursday evening visit to Wellington institution, Ortega Fish Shack. This year, each venue participating in the Dine Wellington section of the festival, is giving a back story to the dish or venue. The story behind Ortega Fish Shack’s menu starts with a Martinborough World War II veteran, Smiley Sullivan. Sullivan bought a property on Marjoribanks Street, where the restaurant is situated, which allowed him and his mother to be close to his sister and husband. (who was a butcher at Jas Farley’s shop at 12 Majoribanks Street – Ortega Fish Shack is at number 16). However, he struggled to settle into city life, and became a conservator with the then New Zealand Forest Service, with a role of keeping wild deer populations in check around the greater Wellington Region. The festival dish devised for Wellington on a Plate is in memory of Sullivan.
We opted for the three course offering with paired wines. In a good place like this, we think it worth it as we get to not only taste things we might not opt for, the choices are always excellent. The first dish was a pork and rabbit terrine, with mushrooms and mustard greens paired with a Greenhough Riesling. The terrine was lovely, crumbling into goodness when cut. The warm mushrooms paired really well, as did the mild apple sauce. The wine went well with it too – not usually a fan of Riesling but this worked well (note – I always say I am not a fan of Riesling and am always pleasantly surprised).
The second course was the festival dish, which naturally featured venison – Awatoru Wildfood red deer with braised red cabbage, caramelised celeriac and Paddy Borthwick Winery Pinot Noir gravy. The wine was Loop Road Pinot Noir. This was perfect winter food – the richness of the meat counterbalanced by the tang of the cabbage and the smoothness of the celeriac. The wine was one we will keep our eyes open for in the future.
The dessert (yes we had dessert this time) was a stout and chocolate cake with maple ice cream and little bits of bacon sprinkled on the top for a crunchy and salty counter balance that worked really well. This was the dark chocolate cake you want when the winds are blowing outside. It was served with Mas Blanc Banyuls, a granache based fortified wine that tasted of cherries and chocolate. Oh and we did have our espresso after as is the norm.
All in all a gorgeous meal, excellent service and a wonderful way to spend that cold Thursday evening.
And am adding this post to the weekend coffee share hosted by Natalie the Explorer, who, by the way, has convinced me that Toronto should be on my list of places to travel (if and when we ever can again).
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