What a weekend. As always good times to be had in Wellington. We arrived on a wet & wild June evening & hit Matterhorn for cocktails & a little dinner. Matterhorn is a bit of Wellington institution, ensconced at the end of a corridor up some stairs on Cuba St. It was originally a Swiss coffee house back in 1963 before ending up as a cocktail bar & restaurant.
For me a little aperitif, a Botanical Gimlet; gin, lime juice, coriander, mint, orange & lemon bitters & lemon sugar. The perfect herbal tonic to wake up the taste buds before diving in to some very tasty morsels.
We opted for sharing, my preference as that means a little taste of everything & the avoidance of any plate envy. On the meaty side some slow cooked merino lamb with an anchovy, mint salsa verde on the side. The meat was tender & full of flavour, the salsa verde delivering just the right amount of sharpness. However it was the crispy pork belly with house made kimchi that was my pick of the night. Being a fan of the pickle, I could have eaten buckets of kimchi, sharp & tangy it made for a trinity of deliciousness with the pork & the golden, crunchy crackling.
The other star of the night...the potatoes. Off the chart golden & crispy they were ambrosial! Given that they were roasted in wagyu fat & topped with a beurre noisette & slivers of toasted almonds it is not surprising that they were up there in the sublime & most definitely moreish category.
Along with the cocktails & the scrumptious food the service also hit the spot. Friendly, attentive & also very kindly recommended the Hawthorne Lounge for a post dinner cocktail & for that they get extra credit. It is a little bar hidden up some stairs; you need to know where to look to find this little gem. And once you find it you will want to return.
It is most definitely a lounge, leather sofas around the fire & even marshmallows; if you feel like a little toasting. It is all about the cocktails here & to finish off the evening I picked the Bardstown Bitters for my night cap. Bourbon, bitters, orange peel & some other aromatics I can’t remember served over ice, fireside it was the perfect way to end the evening. If you don’t see anything on the menu that you like just them know what you do like they will whip something up especially for you. My travel buddy loves passionfruit & they made a wonderfully fruity concoction to order. This little bar, we wanted to take back to Auckland.
106 Cuba Street
Ph: 04 384 3359
82 Tory St
Ph: 04 890 3724
After a little snoozing & taking it easy as one should on a long weekend away for a little breakfast we headed to Nikau Cafe, a lovely little spot almost hidden away in the Wellington City Art Gallery. On a coffee free*kick it was green tea for me & some very good coffee for my breakfast buddy.
I am not really one for a sweet breakfast so I bypassed the fresh & poached fruits with zany zeus yoghurt & I am not a fan of porridge so the porridge with cardamom & date compote was not going to do. I almost had the scrambled eggs with herbs but then I spotted the toasted rye with salmon & horseradish creme fraiche & I was sold. This is my kind of breakfast, good bread, fresh smoked salmon & sharp hit from the horseradish to waken up the taste buds.
City Art Gallery Civic Square
101 Wakefield St
ph: 04 801 4168
*Yes coffee free for almost a month! I am surprised, but clearer headed & a lot more relaxed!
After breakfast a little culture by way of the Andy Warhol exhibition; Warhol Immortal at Te Papa. A great collection of some of his iconic images & his words...
“In the future, everybody will be world famous for 15 minutes”
...more pertinent & relevant today than ever in the 24/7 social network, reality TV, You Tube, ever connected world that we live in.
It is great exhibition featuring many early sketches & then moving on to the more famous screen prints of famous friends, celebrities, socialites & rock stars that we are all so familiar with. The exhibition is on until 25 August, so if you're in Wellington check it out.
As he once said: ‘Isn't life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?”
Post the art a little lunch with friends at Floriditas, for it is not a trip to Wellington without, at least a couple of visits to Floriditas. It never disappoints & we enjoyed lovely long lazy lunch with friends over few glasses of vino.
To start a just a little nibble of bread, dukkhah & soft feta cheese before heading in for the main event. The fish pie looked delicious & many customers would seem to agree as a multitude of these making their from the kitchen to hungry patrons. I opted for the radicchio, ricotta & caramelised onion fritters which were the perfect light lunch post breakfast & an eye on dinner!
And to finish a perfect little sweet treat, thanks to Marc for some delectable little bambelinos, just the name rolls off the tongue, as do these sugar coated, custard filled little balls of deliciousness straight in to your mouth. No matter how full you feel, you will always be able to find a little spot for a bambelino!
161 Cuba Street
Ph: 04 381 2212
And all of that was just the first round, post which a siesta was in order pre the evenings festivities, more to come on this soon.