Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Thorndon: Not Molesworth Street (A Local's Guide to Wellington)

There is of course more to a suburb than its main road (usually). These are some of my favourite places that aren't on Molesworth Street.

Set in an old timber frame building, the Thistle caters for many businessmen on their lunch break, for meetings and for after work drinks. They even have bookable meeting rooms upstairs. Shown here is a starter - the scallops with black pudding over smoked mash with pinot jus. The duck liver parfait with toasted bread is particularly delicious as well.  

The mains are just as delectable. In the back is the venison loin with a beetroot and feta salad and crumbed sweetbreads. In the foreground is the lamb rump with kumara mash, green beans and jus. It's around $25-30 for mains, but you get what you pay for here. I've never left unsatisfied.

The lunch set menu (Formule Compl├Ęte) is fantastic value for money at $35, and who doesn't love a wine with lunch? Out of the three times I've been here, I've ordered the salade de chevre chaud (goat's cheese salad with bacon, pear and walnuts) twice, as it is too good to pass up.
The Toulouse sausages are also excellent, and I hear that the confit duck wings also are. The chocolate mousse for dessert is very rich and I have had it every single time I've been. (I have tasted the other desserts but there's nothing quite like a great chocolate mousse with slivers of roasted almond on top.)

Mari Luca Ristoro
A charming little Italian restaurant tucked away on Mulgrave Street, Mari Luca Ristoro serves traditional fare at reasonable prices (especially if you get the set menu). The first time we went, I got the beef ravioli with sage and burnt butter sauce. The beef was super tender and the sauce just right. Above you can see the squab with roast potatoes, which was a beautifully cooked dish. As a starter, they offer a bruschetta of the day of which I have had good and mediocre versions. 

The dining area is welcoming and there's even a fireplace for cold nights.

Old Saint Paul's 
Contrasting the huge pink blemish on Moleswoth Street that is New Saint Paul's cathedral, Old Saint Paul's is an old church built entirely of native timber located on Mulgrave Street. It's nice to wander in and look at the colonial architecture and the stained glass windows, and to read about the history of such a building. 

Bordeaux Bakery
The main Bordeaux on Thorndon Quay has a huge range of desserts and pastries, including some of the best mille feuille in New Zealand (or so I've been told - I'm not much of a fan of custardy desserts myself). The opera cake would be my recommendation. You can also buy whole cakes for special occasions, most of them costing around the $50 mark. Bordeaux also has smaller offshoots such as the Bordeaux Express on Featherston Street.

I always sit upstairs as it's a bit quieter. It's lovely to get breakfast here, whether it be crepes or a pastry with coffee, but be warned: the hot beverages can be hit or miss.

Another French cafe, this one is located in the Woolstore building. The experience was nice but nothing really jumped out to me as being special. A decent yet average cafe, which I will probably not return to as there are much better options for French fare. 

Technically in Kaiwharawhara, another great place to get breakfast or a cheeky pastry is La Cloche, where we ordered 'Ze French Breakfast' ($15). This includes a croissant, a pain au chocolat (they had run out so we got 2 croissants), baguette with jam and butter, a hot beverage and juice. It was so big we should have shared one breakfast between us!

Yannick (looking beardier than usual) humours me while I take pictures of the food. When I don't forget to whip out the iPad once food comes (and I often do), I have to tell him to wait. It can sometimes be a huge effort to resist just for those few seconds, especially when the food smells waft up at you whispering eat me.