fancy plans and pants to match: soda jerk night at six barrel soda

Yikes, so this happened ages ago, and because I am the worst kid in school I only just remembered it. So with an awkward flourish, welcome to another installment of Fancy Plans and Pants To Match, where I acknowledge that sometimes cool things happen to me, with the aim of doing it in a way that makes you not hate me as you read it. Vicarious thrills ahoy. This segment is named for a quote by Jimmy James, a character in the wonderful 90s sitcom NewsRadio. 
So here’s the thing: I got invited to Six Barrel Soda’s Visa Wellington on a Plate event, Soda Jerk Diner Night. Yes, the same Wellington on a Plate which finished back in August. 
The pitch: As if Six Barrel Soda wasn’t a fun enough place to spend your time, for several nights they transformed themselves into a classic American diner and served up four courses of comfort food, each with a drinks match. 
New Zealand needs more American biscuits. Biscuits > all of us.

What happened: It really had been an unusual day. In the afternoon there was an earthquake large enough for both Tim’s and my workplace to tell us to go home, the kind of earthquake where no-one gets hurt but it’s big enough to make you cry in public. After we’d found each other and got home and sat there for a bit, the pub instantly seemed like the next logical step. Later on, aftershocks still happening regularly, Tim and I went to Six Barrel Soda where they were admirably sticking to their schedule and continuing with the scheduled diner night. Lucky for us, because the menu went like so:

Round 1:
Biscuits and Island Bay Sausage Gravy with a Mulberry Street, which is Aperol with house-made raspberry and lemon soda.
Round 2:
Mac’n’cheese, served with parmesan and bacon wafers and a Maria La Blanca, made with house chilli vodka, house celery tonic, celery, salt, pepper and hot sauce.
Round 3:
Little Pulled Pork Burger with a kola float, made with house-made Kola Nut soda and Gelissimo gelato.
Round 4:
Pie a la Mode, pumpkin pie with Gelissimo vanilla bean gelato and a filter coffee.

So what we’re talking about here is food that’s intensely comforting, like the meal equivalent of putting on an old jersey that’s recently emerged, cosy and soft, from the drier. But also food that’s beautifully, perfectly made, like an expensive jersey that you really shouldn’t put in the drier because it will shrink the fabric and ruin it.

mac and cheese, in a cute lil coffee cup. 

Maria la Blanca. Super delicious.

Pulled pork marinated in kola and lime. Could hardly process how good it was. 

The house-made tomato sauce was fantastic too, all sweet and smoky. 

The best bit: Every course was more excellent than the one before, but I particularly loved that they served us American biscuits, those scone-like delights which I firmly believe should be more popular here in New Zealand. And on a practical note, it really was lovely that they continued with the event despite the quakes, because there was no better place to be during nervewracking aftershocks than in the noisy, busy, familiar, wonderful Six Barrel Soda, eating the kind of food that pats your soul on its head reassuringly. Creamy mac and cheese with crisp, salty bacon and parmesan wafers. Rich, dark gravy to dip pieces of buttery, tender biscuit into. Saucy falling-to-pieces pork with crisp slaw. Sweetly spicy pumpkin pie. Their own sodas, hand made with seasonal ingredients. It was just a really brilliant evening. 

pie: not their first rodeo. I do enjoy implying that things might not be someone’s first rodeo. 

On a scale of 1 to Is This A Dream: Around a five. This isn’t a bad thing: recreating an American diner for the evening means it’s going to be relaxed and casual by necessity, but it was still a pleasingly fancy way to spend some time. The whole earthquake context plus the fact that we’d just been to the pub for three hours made it a little surreal, to be fair.

Would I do this for not-free? Indubitably. Six Barrel Soda is one of my very favourite places in Wellington, a home away from home, and it was only that this event sold out so quickly that I didn’t spend my own money to go along. They just have an excellent thing going – all convivial, and open, and instagrammable, and if you’re in the mood to not just take one person’s word for it, let me direct you to my friend Jason’s beauteous photos of the place. (He was also one of the photographers for my cookbook. Lucky me.)

Earnest thanks for making me feel fancy to: The nice kids at Six Barrel Soda Co, and the good sorts at Visa Wellington on a Plate. The cafe itself is upstairs on Eva Street – just look out for the sparkly-cool sign – and you can find their marvelous soda at lots of different places, so there’s a good chance you can have some vicarious thrills of your own. Thus making them not so vicarious, I guess.

5 thoughts on “fancy plans and pants to match: soda jerk night at six barrel soda

  1. Amy says:

    biscuits are a lovely lovely thing, but the only american missing from these pictures is the serving size – I am just now realizing that the rest of the world serves portions of food that are like 1/3 or less the size of what's served out in the US haha


  2. Anonymous says:

    lol. I was just thinking that it was great to see smaller serving sizes. I love comfort food but anytime I eat it, it is a bucketload followed by a food coma. I can't imagine having to eat 4 courses of comfort food in full US sizes!

    This concept would have made for a fun pot luck too. A comfort food pot luck followed by a blankets and a movie.


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