Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Lyall Bay and Kilbirnie (A Local's Guide to Wellington)

Lyall Bay is Wellington's main surf beach and it also overlooks the airport. Being quite close to the city (while not too close), many families as well as groups of friends come here to sunbathe, swim and ride the waves. 

Maranui Cafe
The white building above is the Surf Life Saving Club, which houses Maranui Cafe. Ideally situated right on the beach, this heritage building had a tussle with fire in 2009 but with the help of the community was brought back to life. 
The interior brings a colourful and quirky side to the sometimes overused beach theme, staying away from kitch (apart from a palm reading machine at the counter). 
The food here is known far and wide to be outstanding, and it lives up to its reputation. The only problem is finding a spare seat and waiting times for meals. It's so popular that I would recommend having breakfast here as early as you can muster yourself, as you'll have a quiet meal with a view of the sunrise over the bay. The pancakes are a winner with fresh berry compote (the first and only time I've had cranberries that weren't dried, juiced, or jammed). I can't stop giggling at the greek yoghurt because it looks like a white turd, but even with that unfortunate swirl I want to eat those pancakes so bad. 

Spruce Goose
We only ate here once and briefly, but I did enjoy it. I can't say much of my own experience as we just had a main and a drink, but I have heard that it's overpriced and overrated.


Inland from Lyall Bay, Kilbirnie as a suburb is known for having Pak 'n Save, a large and cheap supermarket. We lived in Kilbirnie for a year, and while it was handy living so close to affordable groceries, I was frustrated by the lack of quality cafes and restaurants at times. However, there are a few gems.

A Taste of Greece
This tiny cafe provides authentic Greek fare that ignites the taste buds. From honey-soaked baklava and walnut cake to the triple cheese flaky pastry 'tiropita', you will be coming back for more time and time again. It was dangerous having this so close to my house.

Brezelmania
A German bakery which also operates out of Kelburn, Brezelmania offers a wide range of baked goods including loaves of bread and made-to-order cakes. I would often get a few croissants for our breakfast to go with hot chocolate, or jam filled doughnuts for Yannick (still not sure how he eats something so sweet for his first meal of the day). The croissants may not be as good as that of a French bakery, but they were more than adequate.

The Little Teapot

A funky cafe started up on our corner and I was immediately intrigued and put off at the same time, as their sign read High Tea - bookings essential. I wasn't aware initially that they were a cafe that you could go into and order drinks and cabinet food from, rather than being an exclusive high tea salon that required bookings to even step in the door.
So I had never entered until I booked high tea, and I was delighted. The decor is light and floral, and the treats are scrumptious. At $25 per person this was the cheapest high tea I've had yet, and while it did feel a bit more home-style than the more expensive high teas, it was a wonderful experience. We were even provided a little goodie bag to take home with cake balls rolled in coconut, which I thought was a nice touch.
The mark of a successful high tea was whether it made you feel fancy, and boy did I feel fancy.