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Hillside Kitchen & Cellar

By Heather 20 May 2015 • 2 Comments


Hillside Kitchen & Cellar on the corner of Hill Street and Tinakori Road has two faces – the daytime coffee, scone and light graze, or the nighttime three ($55) or four ($65) course dinner. But community remains the common thread.

Asher (he of the Ramen Shop Newtown fame) and Jules (the front of house flair and drinks genius) want you to stop, sit, and chat with your guests / friends / neighbours over good food, with minimal fuss. So, at dinner it’s simply how many courses, which dishes take your fancy (three choices per course), and whether you want drinks matching or not. And the daytime is even simpler – a scone or blackboard dish, and perhaps a coffee.

Whilst Hillside is a total contrast to Newtown’s Ramen Shop given the different suburban vibe, the focus on house-made and quality remains the same – ‘layers of quality’ is how Asher sees it. He also admits to being a vegetable fan, and likes to offer dishes a little out of the norm, so you’ll find things like butternut squash and buffalo mozzarella brioche here rather than eggs benny or pancakes.

When I stopped by one morning recently, the house-made English muffin with ricotta and Wainui honey jumped on my plate, and the coffee (Peoples) was one of the best made I’ve had in quite some time (woah, where’d they steal Barista Kris from then?). And there were indeed locals catching up as they came and went.

When they can’t make something themselves, they like to showcase and support local providers. For example, the Eastbourne Butchery, Fix and Fogg, Wellington Chocolate Factory, Six Barrel Soda and Zany Zeus, among others, all of which can be taken home for the making of your own magic (bag of duck fat or delicious andouille sausages anyone?). It’s very important to Asher that he knows all these folks personally and that there is a provider community as well as a customer community. Nice.

Jules is as passionate about drinks as Asher is about food. He believes beer is as important for food matching as wine, and likes to offer diverse styles that aren't afraid to push the limits. As a result, you can have beer, wine or non-alcoholic matching with your dinner at Hillside. On the night we trotted along, one of us did the non-alcoholic ($15 for three courses) and one did the beer ($35 for four courses).

In the interests of not wearing your eyes out, I’ve included this summary:

  • Put aside the whole evening for this experience
  • Unless you are a sparrow, you will be able to do four courses. The focus is on showcasing a range of quality ingredients not loading you up
  • Do turn the menus over and appreciate the art by barista Kris
  • All of the food was excellent in quality, presentation, flavour and texture
  • The fallow tataki is based on the Japanese version of tatare, and I did indeed get plum notes, as well as tomato and onion crispness
  • The fig, blue cheese and lamb bacon was highly regarded by all, with the cheese whipped and balanced alongside fresh figs and crispy bacon
  • The wild sheep are an 1800’s breed introduced to both Waiheke Island and North Canterbury, with meat leaner and more flavourful than usual.   Look out for the crowning glory of wafer-thin crisped baby potatoes
  • The Fix & Fogg and Wellington Chocolate Factory dessert was hidden under a fine web of toffee to start and then revealed as a delicious dish of layered cake, peanut mousse and rich chocolate sorbet
  • The roast apple, rosemary, pine and coconut dessert showcased all of those flavours across soft fruit, sharper granita and silky sorbet
  • House-made bread and Hillside’s own cultured butter precede the three or four courses, and don’t rush away after dessert because there’s a petit four finale
  • The beer match is an excellent way to try several beers you’d normally have to buy in large bottles

You can also pop by from 4.30pm for an early evening drink and plate (all $15) on your way home or out.

I’d love to hear whether you think Hillside are meeting their mission of being the facilitator of your good time.

Opening hours:

Tuesday to Friday 7am - 4pm

Saturday 8am - 4pm

(Tuesday to Saturday from 4.30pm, bookings from 5.30pm)


Hillside Kitchen & Cellar

The Hillside Kitchen & Cellar in Thorndon is a deli by day, restaurant by night.

Add your comment

  • Heather Clinton 22/05/2015 2:01pm (3 years ago)

    Hi Kristen, right at the moment no, but the lads switch the menus up often and will from time to time. Best bet is to keep an eye on their Facebook page.

  • Kristin Downey 21/05/2015 4:51pm (3 years ago)

    looks lovely. just wondering if you have any breakfast offerings for the gluten free?

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