Brews to chew over
At steampunk bar Fortune Favours, the menu is designed around the beers. While the food is more curated than cooked, David Burton made some good matches.
Beginning with The Loaded Hog 30 years ago, Wellington’s brewbars grew quietly with The Fork and Brewer, Black Dog, Third Eye and latterly Husk.
But now, with the opening of Fortune Favours in Leeds St and the imminent arrival of both Heyday and Whistling Sisters, Te Aro Flat is truly becoming Brewbar Central.
In view of the deleterious effect of alcohol upon my innards, I’d probably rather not be reminded that Fortune Favours brewery was previously a dip strippers. But the point of leaving the old signwriting on the building façade is presumably to underline its sensitive renovation: heritage features such as wooden ceiling rafters and brick walls have been retained, but obviously the fun multi-coloured pipes that make up the steampunk bar are new. Long communal tables are arranged as precisely as the design of a can of sardines would permit.
I loved the whimsical Meat and Cheese Bar, which resembles an over-sized woodfire oven. At the tiny hatch stands Chef Arun, cutting sausages and assembling tasting paddles.
Obviously the cured meats and cheeses are all bought in, so the exercise here is not so much about cooking as curating. Our prosciutto was the best quality San Daniele, while our unpasteurised Brie de Meaux and Roquefort were both at optimum ripeness. Later, Arun revealed that even the pork rillettes come from The Churchill.
Since the food here is designed to go with beer, I matched the pork rillettes with The Naturalist, an easy-drinking pale ale (unfiltered) which, head brewer Dale Cooper and I concurred, packed a less hoppy punch on the palate than it had threatened on the nose, but cut the fat of the rillettes nevertheless. Then I stole a sip of my partner’s sauvignon blanc, which did the job even better. The most food-friendly beer appeared to be the porter (The Gatekeeper), its toasted, malted flavours a complement to the caramelised edges of the Roasted Brisket.
Knowing this porter included cacao nibs in the mix, I saved a little to drink with a selection of chocolates from the Wellington Chocolate Factory, but there was a fundamental clash of savoury with sweet. Much better was a pairing of this Gatekeeper with the Roquefort. But even so, as matches for Roquefort go, I think I’d still have swapped an entire brewery’s worth of porter for just one small glass of sticky riesling, imbued with noble rot.