BIG BAD WOLF 262 Wakefield St (next to Commonsense Organics)
ph: 382 9111
Open Tues-Fri 9am-7pm, Sat & Sun 10am-3pm.
Price range of sausages & terrines: $32-$84/kg
Cost: $50 for two (excluding wine)
Gabriel Hall and Manni Hunt never set out to open another restaurant.
Gabriel had had Boulot, Hunt had owned Eateria de Manon, and neither wanted to hear the words "Check arriving for table five, please" ever again.
That's why they opened Big Bad Wolf Gourmet Charcuterie, a swish, highly renovated space now totally unrecognisable as the old Satay Kampong.
From his mother Rosaria Hall's Victorian house in Kelburn, Hall has acquired a window and joined totara stair treads to form the front counter, the base of which is paved with 1875-era Cuba St factory bricks.
The vision was for a cruisy retail/wholesale shop attached to a production kitchen, supplying restaurants and delicatessens with sausages and terrines, cured meats and bacon; Hunt and assistant to make the stuff out the back, Hall to schmooze the bourgeoisie and hipsters out front.
Originally, Hall envisioned just a couple of token tables, where customers could eat their purchases off white enamel plates and drink wine from tumblers.
But you can't take the restaurant out of Remiro Bresolin's boy, so by the time opening day rolled around on October 10, the two outside tables had mysteriously morphed into seven indoors, with seating for 26.
Now there's a compact but serious wine list and two craft beers on tap, not to mention a soup and a couple of stews du jour, in addition to that massive array of charcuterie. Everything can be taken away or eaten in: Hunt will fry your sausages for you and serve them in a natty frying pan with some onion jam, a garnish of mesclun and great crusty baguette from Le Moulin.
There's still no formal written menu; you order at the counter and carry your own cutlery and napkin to the table. But even so, we punters can't be blamed for getting the wrong idea.
Actually, it's a good thing we have, since on the two successive lunchtimes I called in, half of Wellington's restaurant mafia also trooped in - the very bigwigs Wolfie badly needs to woo. First came Martin of Bosley's, accompanied by Rachel of Yellow Brick Road.
Then Clay and Tom from Capitol and Blair of Vivo. Finally there was Richard who, having sold Maria Pia's, is now a recovering restaurateur.
Through his business Artigiano Imports, he supplies Big Bad Wolf with lardo, that legendary, slightly spicy melt-on-the- tongue cured pig fat from Italy.
James from Floriditas called in for a selection of sausages to take home as a try-out.
Asked what he was buying, James told me he had really wanted the alpaca sausage, only his son is nagging him to get a pet alpaca; I agreed a portion of minced hindquarter might not prove the ideal first instalment.
For my own part, I had no qualms about consuming a morsel of Peter Rabbit, not just because I felt good about doing Otago's eco system a favour, but also because it had been so deliciously dressed as rillettes, covered with its own fat.
The admirable boast is that no terrine or sausage here is a slavish copy of anything classical.
Rather, they're based on flavours that work together - in Hunt 's words, chef's sausages, not butcher's sausages - made with love.
Some are based on dishes from his past, such as the snail, pork, parsley and garlic entree he used to serve at Manon, here ground together and stuffed into a sausage. Another winner is Wild Venison, Raspberry Tarragon.
But as lovely as the sausages are, I still don't think I'll be passing on the spit-roasted pig next time I'm in.
Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin.
ONE THING YOU SHOULD TRY
Spit Roast Pork Sandwich
Big Bad Wolf's pigs are happy pigs. They have no house to be huffed and puffed and blown in, not of straw, sticks, bricks, nor even a pen of cold concrete - just their Otaki orchard fringed with sheltering pines. They have no steroids for breakfast, nor even rings in their noses. Rather, they snuffle around the windfall apples and pears until the day they end up being spit roasted and served up with sweet pickled cabbage and a hint of apple in a piece of baguette, along with neatly cut rectangles of crunchy crackling. Little pig, little pig, yum, yum, yum.
- The Dominion Post