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17 Apr 2014
A little less than a year ago I chased down the Goose Shack at Wellington’s Harbourside Market. Less a shack, more precisely a Deco-green 1971 Morris Minor ute with a charcoal oven on the back, the Goose was flying high on delicious kai such as hot lamb sandwiches, fish fingers, baked eggs, and an unforgettable feijoa & cheddar pie. Haydn Turner – the man behind the van – told me at the time, ‘My aim is to take the Goose Shack further, and this is a really nice way to get started.’
Well, it turns out there’s no messin’ around with Turner, because in December he found the Goose some permanent digs in the Berhampore shops. And by March Goose Shack HQ was open.
Laura Nicholls – Turner’s partner and an interior designer – was instrumental in realising GSHQ’s grand design: all warm wood, tactile taupe, shiny copper, natural light, with a touch of the retro diner. A raft of recycled materials gives the Goose a characterful, pre-loved feel, modernised with floor-to-ceiling windows. A couple of long bars lend an extra-casual edge, while high chairs encourage bringing the children who can let off a little steam in the fenced courtyard.
The Morrie’s meals-on-wheels is still very much part of the service, complete with the original charcoal oven. When we called in for brunch last Sunday, Turner had tootled off to the Porirua Harvest Festival, and word on the street is that the wagon will be back at the Harbourside Market after Easter.
Back at HQ, the culinary repertoire has been expanded to fill its new space and time – suburban cafe, open almost all hours. The daytime menu sports a gentle breakfast of lemon ricotta griddle-cakes and the ubiquitous bacon & eggs, while lunchy options include ceviche, a ploughman’s, and pork schnitzel.
Dinner tends towards succulent, smoky meats, turned out from a wood-fired oven: rotisserie chicken, lamp rump, steak and fish, complemented with seasonal vege and house-baked breads. The art, according to Turner, is all in the oven, with full use made of hot skillets so the meats are roasted rather than grilled.
An a la carte selection of afters features the likes of fruit tarts and a cheeseboard, while cakes and bottomless filter coffee will no doubt tempt the morning and afternoon tea crowd. Personally, I like the look of the stronger stuff, starting with citrus vodka sorbet, and moving on to a cocktail or two made with HQ’s home-infused spirits. Such interesting drinks and shareable nibbles puts a night ‘down the local’ on the cards for the Berhamporians.
But wait, there’s more! Just inside the front door is a takeaway counter, cutely made up to look like a carnival ticket booth. Spend under a tenner for fish & house-cut agria chips, a pork belly sammy with salad on the side, or a quarter of a chook with a choice of sauce.
So far, so good. But I have a complaint. What on earth happened to the Goose’s amazing feijoa & cheddar pie? The answer: it’s being reinvented as a entrée and should turn up on the menu soon.