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Meet the 2023 Dine and Cocktail Wellington Finalists

May 22, 2023

The people have spoken, the votes are in, and judging is underway for the 2023 Dine and Cocktail Wellington Finalists! This year we saw even more people out and about trying dishes and tasting cocktails with nearly double the ratings compared to last year. Are you curious to know if you tried one of the dishes or drinks in the running for the top prize? Without further ado, meet our Visa Wellington On a Plate 2023 finalists below:


Damascus - Sharing is Caring

This Dine dish for two encourages people to not only share, but enjoy a little bit of everything on the Damascus menu.  With delicious dips, spreads and meats grilled to perfection (or felafel fried to a crisp) this really was all about savouring and sharing the flavours of the Middle East.

Neo Cafe and Eatery - Would You Could You Wasabi Pie

Last year's Dine Wellington Winners are back with another strong entry. A celebration of two sweet and savoury flavours of Japan served up in a beautiful pie.  Yuzu and Wasabi were the heroes of the dish, with a bespoke gelato made by local producer Gelissimo. Belissimo!

The Jaya's Wine Bar - Chocolate Modak

This unique Dine dish was a twist on Ukadiche Modak, which means a "small part of bliss". A Maharashtrian sweet dish, traditionally a soft rice shell filled with a coconut and jaggery mixture. These are offered to Ganesha during the Ganesh Festival in India.


The Old Quarter - Berlin Meats Hanoi

This year The Old Quarter had chosen to break the mould by having a crack at a German barbecue classic; Schweinshaxe. To showcase their adaptability, they stepped out of their comfort zone to serve European cuisine for the first time, and had fun while doing it! 


Zelati Dessert Cafe - Absolutely Avo-licious

This year the Zelati team presented avocado toast like you’ve never had before! Diners were encouraged to 'break the mould' with Zelati’s housemade real avocado gelato encased in a chocolate ‘avocado skin’. And, the peanut butter sorbet 'avocado pip' nestled in the centre was a truly delightful surprise!


A fun (and adult take) take on a kiwi classic. Irish cream, blue curaçao and salted caramel milk punch. Accompanied by a Whittaker's chocolate cream horn "cone".


Oak & Vine Restaurant - La Nouvelle Façon

This was a four-course cocktail degustation menu inspired by the theme 'breaking the mould' which featured:

Amuse-Bouche: Gelée D'Orange - A gin-based orange cocktail served in an orange peel
Entrée: I Am Not A Tomato - a cocktail transformed into a tomato
Main Course: Pomme Blanc - which featured Reid + Reid Native Gin, housemade makrut lime, kawakawa and apple syrup, and more.
Night Cap: Beer Sphere -  a spherified cocktail bubble with Duncan's Pastry Stout

All of this was accompanied by grilled octopus with black rice, verde and seaweed. 


Pravda Cafe & Grill - Blue Gold

Saffron and apricot infused Lighthouse gin, botrytis viognier, dry sherry, burnt pōhutukawa honey and clarified lemon garnished with apricot dust which deliciously encouraged drinkers to lick the rim of their glass. Accompanied by a Kāpiti blue cheese madeleine with ginger marmalade.


The Jaya’s Wine Bar - Pop ‘N Top

This delectable drop featured Poppies Rosé, Scapegrace gin, fresh mint, lemon, simple syrup, mānuka honey and roohafza, all served in a glass half rimmed with chaat masala. Accompanied by tongue tingling  housemade masala paneer, coriander chutney, tamarind chutney, fresh mint, chaat masala and nylon sev on an oven baked lightly salted Monaco.


The Lobby Lounge - Wrecking Ball

Guests were invited to wield a hammer and unleash their frustrations in The Lobby Lounge with The Wrecking Ball! This gorgeous tipple featured Imagination strawberry gin and housemade berry shrub with cranberry and citrus encapsulated in a sphere of ice. Accompanied by a mini mixed berry meringue.

A huge thank you to all the talented individuals who contributed - from the bartenders to the hoteliers, business owners, event organisers, producers, suppliers, partners, sponsors, and all the adventurous Wellingtonians who sipped and savoured their way through the competition. Your passion and support are what make this event worth it! Festival winners will be announced on May 29, 2023 so watch this space!