Saving the Suburban Social Scene: Seatoun Sprig & Fern.

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Ah – after a whole month of Wellington on a Plate burger-binging and dessert-demolishing, it’s good to be back to exploring Wellington’s food gems. I’m not going to lie, I had an amazing time and tried some incredible things (blog post coming soon), but I was in dire need of something that wasn’t sandwiched between a bun. So, as fate would have it, during WOAP I received a message from the team at Seatoun Sprig & Fern to come along and try out their fabulous fare – and you bet I jumped at the opportunity to; A) try out the menu at a new place, and B) finally eat something normal.

I’ve lived in Wellington nearly 4 years now, but I’ve never ever set foot in Seatoun. I mean, being a student with no car and limited bus funds it’s understandable WHY I’ve never been – but honestly after spending an evening in this quaint little town – I’m definitely coming back for a full-day’s expedition. For those of you who don’t know Sprig & Fern, or who have seen them popping up around – they’re a Nelson-based hospitality franchise who are changing the face of what the definition of ‘pub’ means to New Zealand. They’re all about human interaction and conversation – and you’ll never see a TV, Pokie machine or pool table in sight in their taverns.

Now, I’m English, so to me, pubs are cozy, warm, inviting – and basically, a second living room. The Little Sprig that I visited last week had all this, but it also had something that many pubs seem to lack – style. I don’t know how they did it, but the owners have transformed this tiny area into something that appears 10 times its actual size, whilst still maintaining its warmth and snug ambiance. It was also the little things like board games, candles, raised tables & bigger family sized tables that made it so welcoming for anybody or group of people who walked through their door.

Righto – now that I’ve finished gushing over its beautiful quaint interiors (you have to go there to see why I can’t stop singing praise), it’s onto the food and drink. Obviously with it being a pub, the booze is the star of the show, which I personally believe the Sprig and Fern group perform pretty flipping well. At their usual sized-premises they have over 18 of their handcrafted beers and ciders on tap, but at The Little Sprig, they’ve narrowed it down to only 8 of their most popular brews. I’m not much of a beer-gal, so I went for a properly-massive pint of their craft cider – which tasted like the crispest and freshest apple juice, with only the faintest hint of an alcohol flavour – very dangerous, but also very delicious.

Now that I was sipping away on my succulent cider, we were ready for a few nibbles to satisfy out hunger pangs. Like I said, I’m English, so in my mind pub food consists of Sunday roast, steak and kidney pie, bangers and mash…. You get what I mean. But again, The Little Sprig is pioneering a new wave of modern pubs that serve dishes like flatbreads, calamari, vegetarian superfood salads, and even hand-made fettuccini pasta! Unfortunately, it was mid-WOAP – meaning we definitely weren’t in the mood for a family-sized feast, so instead we nibbled on a few of their tasty tapas: their portobello mushroom fries, mozzarella and balsamic flatbreads, and of course I couldn’t resist their calamari (who can???). Honestly, never has pub-food been so bougie. The calamari were freshly caught, and the cuts were so massive you got full off only 3 of them! The flatbread was like a mini Neapolitan pizza, and you could definitely taste the love and skill put into the handmade dough. And those mushroom fries. I’ve found my new love. I didn’t know what to expect, but when those crispy crumbed mushroom wedges were put in front of me, I knew that once I started eating them, I wasn’t going to be able to stop – but hey, they’re mushrooms, so they’re good for you right?

Living in central Wellington, I’m so lucky to have easy access to so many amazing cafes, restaurants and bars – however when you live in a suburb, the nightlife suddenly seems to disappear, and its an effort to go somewhere for a drink. This is why I am so excited for The Sprig and Fern group to grow throughout wellington. Sure, they have amazing food, killer craft-brews, and a classy ambiance that outshines any other tavern – but the fact that their existence now provides villagers who live in suburbs like Seatoun with a central hub to socialise with friends and neighbours, is something really quite special. If you’re ever travelling out to Seatoun, or find yourself in Karori, or even ambling around Thorndon – make one of these Sprig and Fern taverns your destination.

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