When having a gloriously prepared meal, one likes to compliment it with a similarly beautiful drink, but there are still places that consider bland lagers to be the perfect accompaniment to every dish on their menu. I have gone through the menus of various fine dining establishments in Wellington and had a look at their beer lists. There are a couple of flaws to this technique. First, I don’t get to eat at these places. Second, if the creators of the restaurant websites don’t add the beer list to the publicly available menus, then they look like beer-free zones. With this in mind — and after running my ‘snobbish’ eye over them — here are my thoughts.
Logan Brown Let’s start with a good one. Logan Brown has had a great beer list for a while now, featuring beers from Yeastie Boys, Wigram, 8 Wired, ParrotDog and many more. They also serve Tui, which is an oddity (apparently cruise-ship tourists love it). Chef Shaun Clouston is a beer nerd and isn’t scared of putting big, bold beers on the menu.
Ortega Fish Shack & Bar Battling Logan Brown for ‘best beer list’ is Ortega. They mix in quite a few ‘premium’ beers like Heineken, Asahi, Hoegaarden and Monteiths with a very wide range of more ‘crafty’ beers. Again, the designer of this list isn’t scared to include big porters, and while I’m not sure what kind of fish they would go with, good for them!
Capitol It’s bad sign that Capitol doesn’t have their beer list online, only their wines. A bit of digging found that they served Tuatara APA during last year’s Wellington on a Plate, so maybe they still have that?
Ombra The Venetian bacaro doesn’t even have its menu on its website (Facebook is not where a good eatery should put its menu), let alone its beer list. Having eaten there recently, though, I can report that they have Garage Project beers on tap at least. This means it’s a crap-shoot over which beer is available, but at least they have something.
Hippopotamus Located in the Museum Hotel, Hippopotamus certainly gets the award for longest name. Their wine list is longer. Their beer list? Dunno. I should note that I also checked last year’s Wellington on a Plate to see what Hippopotamus served then. While the WoaP offer said there was the choice of “Wellington regional wine, beer, or non-alcoholic beverage”, the available listed drinks were two wines and a mocktail.
The White House While it has been around 20 years serving great food, The White House’s beer list is a single page at the end of the menu. Still, it’s better than most, skewing to the lighter end of the beer spectrum (two ales, a Scotch ale and a porter) but with nice choices. A good pilsner is a still a good pilsner.[info]
We’re edging slowly into winter after a long and decadently hot summer… sigh, I can’t even lie to myself. By this stage of the year you may already be cracking open porters and stouts, so let me suggest one of my favourite dark beer types: oatmeal stout. The style tends to create lovely smooth beers that don’t have the heaviness most people associate with stouts in general. Renaissance Brewing make a great one called Craftsman, which I can attest is fantastic served at room temperature with a black coffee to sip alongside.[/info]