Ortega Fish Shack & Bar Wellington has the stated aim to “provide an atmosphere where you can really relax and enjoy an evening of fine food, fine wine and great service, that won’t break the bank”. This is certainly something that I can get on board with and, after having the restaurant recommended to me, I decided to pop in and see what it was all about.
The vibe of the restaurant is certainly very relaxed, with an eclectic “ship cabin” feel about it.
Service was very good, with the attentive staff being very knowledgeable about what was on the menu, especially when it came to describing the intricacies of some of the local seafood and ingredients that I had not come across before.
The ingredients are the focus at Ortega and head chef Mark Limacher experience working in France, Switzerland influences the food, which has a definite French influence to it. Seafood of the freshest variety is, as is to be expected, the main attraction at Ortega with whatever is available at the market that day finding it’s way onto the menu. For those who don’t like seafood, there are a range of non-seafood items on the menu too.
The wine list is impressive and contains a range of wines from across New Zealand and around the world. What impressed my friend and I even more however, was the beer list. We had several pages of craft beers, both local and international to choose from, including some rather obscure drops – all arranged by flavour profile. The staff were able to assist us in choosing beers to match with our order. Despite the explosion in craft beer in recent years, to find a restaurant that treats its beer list with the same respect as its wine list, from quantity to quality and ability to match with food is still rare.
Fresh Clevedon Pacific Oysters ($4.20 each)
One of my favourite things and these were as fresh as it gets. You can choose to have them natural or battered, with a dressing of Sherry vinegar, Ponzu dressing, Bloody Mary shot or battered Remoulade. I went for natural oysters with a Ponzu dressing.
Gruyere Souffle, Roquefort Cream, Salad Of Rocket, Walnut, Pear & Pickled Cherries ($32.90)
My friend, a non-seafood eater who on several occasions has stated that “something is not food unless it has a mother” did the unimaginable and went for one of the vegetarian options! I guess there’s always an exception to the rule, and in his case, the exception is cheese. He was very impressed with his choice.
Roasted Tarakihi, Malaysian Coconut Gravy, Prawn, Lime & Coriander Salad ($33.90)
I really enjoyed my selection. The Malaysian flavours were spot on and the mild, delicate Tarakihi was a good fish to go with this sort of dish.
Pear Souffle With Poire-Williams Custard & Valrhona Chocolate Sorbet ($15.90)
My friend enjoyed his dessert. I took a bite and thought that the flavours worked really well together. No food envy from me though, as the dessert I had was even better.
Warm Coconut Finger, Coconut & Passionfruit Cream, Mango Sorbet ($14.90)
This dessert was delicious. All of the components worked well individually so I was quite happy that I actually ended up with what was essentially 3 smaller desserts. The coconut finger was very moist and had a great texture.
Going back to the stated aim of Ortega Fish Shack & Bar, I had a very relaxed meal, enjoyed some great tasting fine food, great wine (well, great beer, but that’s a more than adequate substitute) and experienced great service. Pricing was at the higher end compared to some of the other places that I ate at in Wellington however the food was very filling, and we didn’t even need to order entrees. For the quality of food and experience you get at Ortega, it’s worth every dollar.
Ortega Fish Shack & Bar
16 Majoribanks St
Telephone: (04) 382 9559
Tue – Sat: 5:30pm to late