Fatoush Salad (Lebanese bread salad) Vibrant Hutt - Eponymous Epicurean Column - September 2018 Originally…
The Crooked Elm featured in the Vibrant Hutt – The Hutt Valley’s FREE lifestyle magazine.
THE CROOKED ELM
AN ENGLISH PUB WITH KIWI ROOTS
Lower Hutt’s CBD has taken on new vibrancy with the opening of The Crooked Elm in the distinctive former i-Site building opposite the City’s new Events Centre and refurbished Town Hall.
This English Pub with Kiwi Roots, which takes its name from the glorious Elm tree found alongside and now with its own previously ‘Untold Legend’, is the latest venture of multi-awarding winning master chef Paul Rowan. He ran the upmarket Lower Hutt restaurant Mange Tout for four years and has long planned a return to the central city.
Paul Rowan’s new venture complements rather than replicates his popular and successful multi-award winning gastro pub The Butcher and Brewer in Jackson Street, Petone.
“The Crooked Elm is very much a community hub,” he says. “It’s about meeting and socialisation. There’s no big TV screen. No Sports TV.”
However, there will be a mute screen featuring ongoing quizzes to feed into the socialisation aspect. Paul sees a scenario whereby a customer looks at a question and is moved to answer out loud. This in turn will draw in other people who will then start answering together …and all without the aid of someone on a microphone.
Paul also plans to install a jukebox, but there we will be no heavy metal or the like on offer, only easy listening music. And he foresees future occasions when customers bring along their own musical instruments.
“Basically The Crooked Elm is about being the local like in England where people leave their home to pop down for a pint or glass of wine. It’s not for huge groups looking for a drinking session which would detract from the core value of a comfortable community facility.”
The Crooked Elm’s generous outdoor decking surround and more intimate interior perfectly evoke the relaxed vibe found in English and Irish pubs – a place for casual eating, drinking and socialising. The outside deck is totally smokefree.
And there’s also the unexpected and the quirky.
Enter through the front doors to be met by a stunning soft steel version of the
Hutt City Elm created by Wairarapa-based sculptor David Irons who has had extensive involvement with Weta Workshops.
A digitalised version of the Elm features in the pub branding.
The unisex toilets display helpful hygiene tips: If you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be a sweetie and wipe the seatie; Our aim is to keep this bathroom clean, gentlemen your aim will help!
MENU PERFECTLY FORMED
Paul Rowan describes The Crooked Elm menu as “very simple in its composition and perfectly formed”.
“I’ve gone for keen pricing,” he says, “value for money which doesn’t mean cheap but rather quality produce at the right price.”
Options include a range of delicious Tidbits including Pigs-In-Blankets with mustard dip, Welsh Rarebit (Posh Cheese on Toast) and Special Sausage Rolls with ketchup. There’s Platters for sharing like the very English Ploughman’s Platter. Handcrafted Pies with choices like Steak and Ale or Meat and Potato come served on IPA herb mash and gravy with real mushy peas or the Elm Slaw.
There’s a selection of main dishes all priced at a very reasonable $25. Choices include two Salmon options – Molasses Glazed Salmon or Cajun Salmon Salad, Chargrill Sirloin, Confit Chicken Leg, Herbed Goat Cheese Ravioli, Parmesan and Panko Crumbed Fish (bought fresh daily) and Paul’s Pork N Leek Bangers.
Paul Rowan says the Desserts are very English. .. “classic dishes with a modern Paul Rowan twist. For example Bread and Butter Pudding comes as a Terrine served with Bread and Butter Ice Cream.”
There is no table service, you order and pay at the bar.
“We are offering value for money with as less fuss as possible to keep cost down,” says Paul Rowan, “therefore we are not able to offer customers the option of swapping menu items. To do so would increase time and labour resulting in increased costs.”
The Crooked Elm has a good range of Craft Beer. Black Dog and Tuatara are available on tap along with a hand pull English Ale…
”with no fizz, and not chilled but served at the correct temperature”.
There’s a huge range of craft beer in bottles, and it’s also a Heineken Bar and has mainstream beer like Monteith’s Gold and Pale Ale Cider on offer.
Paul Rowan brews his own beer in small 20 litre batches at The Butcher and Brewer and plans to increase the volume so he can also make it available at The Crooked Elm.
There’s a “small perfectly formed” Wine List with European organic options, and the pub is also something of a Gin specialist with 11 different types from New Zealand, England and Colombia – Wednesdays between 5pm and 7pm has a 2.4.1 Gin Cocktails special.
Karamu Coffee is served and available from 8am Monday to Friday through The Crooked Elm’s looking glass takeaway window. Gelato will also be available through this hatch which opens onto the deck.
Brunch is available Saturday and Sundays from 10am to 2pm while Dinner is served from 2pm to 9pm daily.
Bookings are only taken for groups of 10 or more.