Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Willis Street (A Local's Guide to Wellington)

Willis Street: the street that always reminds me of Bruce Willis, who makes Die Hard my favourite Christmas film. There's a large food court at the Lambton Quay end of Willis that used to be called Food on Willis (now Taste on Willis, an inferior name), and I believe it to be an excellent idea to tile the floor with Bruce's face. 

This cafe is easy to miss as it is upstairs and there's just a little doorway in the street to ever let you know it was there. The meals are on the pricier side, but they're pretty decent. Here we have the fried chicken with waffle over bean salad on hummus. It sounds strange and is a mix of different cuisines, but it works. The crumbed chicken breast was perfectly moist and well seasoned, the waffle not too sweet. 

Capital Market
Another food court that is at the opposite end of Willis is the Capital Market. There's everything from a juice bar to Vietnamese to waffles to Indian to baked goods to sushi. It's sort of outdoor, but is covered and sheltered from rain. (Not wind though!)

This place just makes me happy. After seeing what Whitcoulls has become, Unity is a welcome glimmer of hope in the world. I do mainly read ebooks, but I still like to come in here and browse the heaped tables. It puts me in a good mood - a reading mood. 
To elaborate on the Whitcoulls jibe, instead of a store filled with books it is now a store filled more with board games, stationery, children's toys, chocolates and other assorted gifts. And they aren't even good: (rant time) I used a $25 gift voucher to buy a box of chocolates from Whitcoulls. It was a good sized box, say enough for at least six by six chocolates, and two layers. However, upon opening said box, it was revealed that there was only one layer of four by four chocolates. I could have bought two boxes of Guillian sea shells for the same price and I should have because they taste better than that sham Whitcoulls chocolate. 

A busker jamming with his guitar and harmonica. He's standing right next to an alleyway called Chews Lane that connects Willis Street to that street that runs in front of the library, which could probably get a whole post to itself but will just get this mention: Gotham Cafe is a great place for food and has free wifi as well. 

While technically on Customhouse Quay, that's close enough to Willis for me to count it. Pravda serves all of the meals, from breakfast through to dinner, and does it with class. 
You can easily come here for a muffin and a coffee before work, or you can go all out with wine and dinner followed by dessert. The mains are around the $30-35 mark, but yes that is honeyed rosemary chicken breast with braised shallots and forest mushrooms on a smoked provolone mash. I have food envy, and I ate it!

I thought it was going to be easy to talk about French Cancan because it is amazing, but I don't want to sound like I'm raving about it and nothing else. But I'm going to anyway! 
The pains au chocolat are absolutely delicious. They are the softest pains au chocolat in Wellington, and quite possibly in New Zealand. The croissants are also very nice, and when you dip them into the very chocolatey hot chocolates, you are in heaven. 
And then there's the desserts! You get the idea. 
Fun fact: I wrote a letter to Immigration New Zealand begging them to extend the visas of the owners of French Cancan because it would have been a shame for Wellington to lose such a wonderful establishment. When they (two-star Michelin chef-patissier Eric and his wife Sophie) posted on their Facebook page saying that they had been advised their visas would not be extended, and asked people to write in, I didn't hesitate. And believe me, I am not the letter-writing type.
But those pains au chocolat spurred me to action.