Sean Golding and Shepherd Elliott are two Wellingtonian chefs that have joined forces to create something fresh in an already thriving culinary neighbourhood.
Eva Street is one of Wellington’s busiest laneways. Home to a number of Wellington's finest artisan manufacturers, bars and eateries (think Leeds Street Bakery and Golding's Free Dive Bar), with Shepherd Restaurant likely to follow suit.
On arrival at Shepherd, I was immediately made to feel as though I belonged. One of the friendly staff took us to our front row seats at the kitchen pass bar, where we enjoyed the visuals of our menu selection coming to life throughout the evening.
The pass or bar is one of several cleverly divided areas designed to ensure diners enjoy a different restaurant experience, every time you visit. Restaurants can be noisy during service, one particular sound that will make you stand to attention is the ding of the pass bell. Here, the annoying noise of the bell is replaced by a clever, calming light that Shepherd turns on and off, it is this attention to detail throughout the restaurant that ensures the atmosphere here is calm and relaxed.
While we sip on a cold Garage Project beer, there was much to consider before we made our meal selection. Shepherd insisted we kick off with his take on the classic kiwi bacon and eggs. He served us steamed custard with a bacon vinaigrette and toast – beautifully simple. We started with smoked Kahawai on sprouted loaf, crispy snapper wings dusted in corn flower and fried to perfection. I couldn't pass up on the opportunity to try one of their three oyster options served with chardonnay vinegar and shallot cream, setting me up well for the main course.
For our mains we enjoyed a bowl of Cloudy Bay clams served in pork broth, Nduja Italian pork salami and house made grilled bread. I was always taught that shellfish should be cooked in water as salty as the sea, but in this case, the pork salami provides just the right amount of salt and spice to make a broth that will not be left behind.
Next, we had the beef two ways. There was a clear hero in this dish and it was both braised and corned, served with red cabbage, aged cheddar crisp and a fried pickle to top it off. We couldn't leave without trying some dessert, so we went for the rye sourdough doughnut, with rhubarb jam and sour cream. A beautiful balance of sweet and savoury, perfect for those who prefer to finish on something that's not so rich.
The menu was a showcase of good local produce, keeping things simple to make sure we don't miss out on the subtlety of flavour, while also reinventing the wheel in how we expect to see some those flavours presented.
The experience is one that has been carefully thought out. Like the saying goes, two minds are better than one, with Shepherd well and truly tending to his flock.
1/5 Eva St, Te Aro,
Wednesday – Sunday, 5.30pm until late
"While we sip on a cold Garage Project beer, there was much to consider before we made our meal selection."