Last night a friend and I tried the new restaurant in Leeds Street/Eva Street - Shepherd. Shepherd is a collaboration between Shepherd Elliot - Ti Kouka and Leeds Street Bakery - and Sean Golding - Goldings FreeDive Bar. Wellingtonians already love these haunts. I sure do. Together, there have been great expectations around the opening of this newest venture.
I arrived and was given a warm welcome by Chelsea Godinet, the front of house manager. While we had never properly been introduced in real life, somehow we ended up Instagram/Facebook friends. The rest is history. Sean Golding greeted me and we had a quick chat where he told me the space used to be the canteen for the Hannah's factory workers back in the day.
Once settled at my table I had a Garage Project Beer Beer to start. Then my friend arrived and we perused the menu together. We ended up settling on half a dozen Oysters, Umami broth, egg, nori & noodles, and Dashi steamed Fish with ginger, broth and daikon.
Everything was light and fresh which was a lovely change from the deep-fried craze that has taken over Wellington. Shepherd is a true innovator when it comes to food and always uses the best ingredients. It was also incredibly strong for a restaurant on its first night. I couldn't fault a thing about our dishes, but a particular shout out goes to the Oysters - the best I've ever tasted! They were heaven!
We had a lovely glass of pinot noir to accompany the meal and watched the punters roll in. By 8pm the place was packed out. The staff are amazing - so relaxed and professional - our Waiter who I hadn't met before (oh Wellington) was particularly on the ball. When the table wobbled a bit at the start, I mentioned this to him. Quick as a flash he was down and adjusting the leg. It wobbled no more. He was seriously charming and lovely so for that alone I will be back.
Finally, we had some light dessert of sweet potato set custard, miso cookies and smoked mandarin and apple jelly, apple sous vide, and compressed apple. The flavours leapt out and created an interesting portrait of subtle stories on the palate - sweet, smokey, creamy and gelatinous.
The whole atmosphere at Shepherd is interesting, homely and inspiring - like being invited to a creative, well-travelled relative's lounge-pad with a slight fetish for 1970's vibes. I would highly recommend booking a table soon - my guess is this one is going to be booked out for months to come.
Shepherd will be open from about 5.30-11pm, Wednesday-Sunday, with plans for a multi-course set menu on Tuesdays.
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