Friday, 26 September 2014

Cuba Street: Part One (A Local's Guide to Wellington)

When visiting Wellington, there's one street that everyone says you have to go to, and that's Cuba Street. It has good food, good coffee, and good entertainment. Because it is so full of exciting things, this post will come in multiple parts.

As the name may suggest, this place makes coffee. They make a lot of coffee and if you don't order coffee when you go here, you might be a little strange. While the food is average cafe fare, I've only had good coffees here. 

There is plenty of seating, including comfy booth seats, so it's good to go to at peak times because you'll probably be able to snag a seat unlike some other cramped cafes. 

This was around midday on a Sunday.

It deems itself a Venetian Bacaro serving Italian tapas. However, we didn't know what a bacaro was, and wasn't told that tapas were served. Because of this, we ordered the duck risotto and roast lamb which didn't quite fill us up enough (but did leave room for dessert - a rather disappointing tiramisu). There were so many things on the menu that I would like to return and try a few more, but it's not at the top of my list.

Scopa is my favourite restaurant in Wellington, which is high praise and well deserved. The pizzas are delicious, and I can never pass up the Rosa Maria - a white pizza with confit garlic, slices of potato, rosemary and feta. The pastas give the pizza a run for their money, and Scopa offer Meatball Mondays, which provides a bowl of pork and herb meatballs over handmade spaghetti for $15 (add a glass of house red for an extra $6). Whenever I go there, I have a difficult time deciding which delicious meal I should order.
The vibe feels more casual than a restaurant such as Nicollini's or Fratelli, and if you sit by the window you can take in a good helping of people-watching.
One time we were looking for dinner at nearly ten at night on a Thursday, and we knew that if anywhere was still open, it would be Scopa. And lo and behold, it was. The kitchen was still serving actual meals too; we thought we would have to just get prosecco and tiramisu (though you'd force no complaints out of me with that). The tiramisu is some of the best I have had outside Italy, but Pizzeria Napoli ties for first place as I cannot choose between them. 

Lighthouse Cinema
An arthouse cinema off a side street which has very comfortable couches in all its three tiny cinemas. It's our first choice when going out to see a film, as it provides a more interesting range (not just the mainstream films). Once the film is about to begin, the projectionist comes in and introduces themselves, telling you their name and to please turn off your phone and not talk during the screening as it can disturb other viewers. I am so glad they do this, and I wish every cinema would. I did, however, get a loud-breather the last time we went, and they can't really mandate the way you breathe. But the point is that they care about your cinema-going experience and don't want giggly asshole tweenagers ruining your day. 

Flying Burrito Brothers
On the corner of Cuba and Ghuznee Street, FBB offers affordable Mexican food and sizeable portions. 
The frozen margaritas come in a large selection of flavours, and there's always a flavour of the day to boot! You've got to try the passionfruit margaritas (pictured here) as well as the strawberry ones. I'm determined to try all the flavours, even if it takes me many trips.

There are many options for food as well, but I often go with the burritos (not flying, surprisingly) or the chimichangas. I only discovered the queso starter recently, which makes me sad to know that I have been missing out on so much melted cheesy goodness. If you like cheese, even a little bit, you need this in your mouth.

Stay tuned for Cuba Street Part Two and Cuba Mall (the pedestrian section of Cuba Street). 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Streets off Lambton Quay (A Local's Guide to Wellington)

Cafe Breton

The predecessor of this cafe was Bistro Breton in the suburb of Kelburn. Now based on Brandon Street, the creperie is smaller but serves the same traditional French food.
Me on the left has a caramel crepe, and me on the right has a galette with goats cheese, walnuts and honey. We shared a bottle of French cider.

Alaturka kebabs
Arguably one of the best kebab houses in the CBD (and certainly the best at the Parliament end of town), Alaturka uses loads of fresh ingredients to deliver tasty and filling food that you will want to eat even when you're not on the piss at one o'clock in the morning. I appreciate that they always ask whether I want onion or not, as the answer is always no, and some places do not ask. 
Alaturka is located on Waring Taylor Street, just off Midland Park.

Juniper Bar
On the other side of Midland Park, Juniper Bar can be found on Johnston Street. As the name may suggest, there are many gin-based drinks amid a huge list of cocktails (all of which are only $10 each on Fridays). They have fruity drinks and creamy drinks, sour drinks and sweet drinks. Whatever your taste, you will find something you like. Their bar snacks are better than your average bar snack, but also more expensive. I usually get the kumara chips. 
They do a good Pimm's cup. I had to mention it. I love Pimm's (perhaps that makes me biased).