From coffee and markets to beer and roti, Wellington has something for all tastes. Restaurant critic David Burton talks us through his top 10.
1. Paua ravioli at Logan Brown
Paua can still be legally snorkelled for around Wellington's rocky south coast. More sedate travellers can check out the south coast in miniature in the form of an aquarium beneath the bar top at Logan Brown, Wellington's grandest restaurant. Housed beneath the dome of an old bank, within a circle of Corinthian columns like a Greek temple, the style here is unabashedly fine dining. One dish has never been taken off the menu: Paua ravioli with coriander, basil and lime beurre blanc.
Logan Brown, 192 Cuba St, ph: 04 801 5114
2. A decent cup of coffee
New Zealand's coffee roasting revolution began in Wellington, and today you can't walk more than 50 metres in the central city without smelling the bean's good cheer, if only from a hole in the wall. Hipsters drink Havana at Fidel's, while corporates seek a mid-morning revival at Revive. Geeks will be in sync with the hot new trend to premium single origin coffee, involving milder roasts and gentler pour-over brewing gadgetry - the Chemex, Hario V60, Swissgold, Aeropress, plunger and siphon. For such coffee, check out:
•The Hangar, the flagship cafe/roastery of Flight Coffee, in upper Dixon Street
•Customs Brew Bar, the flagship coffee bar of artisan roaster Coffee Supreme, on Ghuznee Street
•Blue Belle Cafe at Aro Park
•Lamason's. Bizarrely hidden away at ground level in a car park, Lamason's offers a $5 spectacle - the bubbling coffee siphon.
•For a seaside experience, try Maranui Café, on the top floor of a surf lifesaving club, overlooking the waves at the Capital's el primo surfing beach. Maranui Surf Lifesaving Club, The Parade, Lyall Bay, ph 04 387 4539 www.maranuicafe.co.nz
3. Moore Wilson's
It's said that if you can't find a rare food ingredient elsewhere in Wellington, you will find it at Moore Wilson's Fresh. Owned and run by the Moore family since 1918, it is a complex of three stores sprawling across two storeys - a fresh section, a dry goods section, a wine and craft beer shop, a kitchen utensil store and a new rotisserie Chook Wagon in the car park.
Cnr of Tory & College Sts, ph: 04 384 9906, www.moorewilson.co.nz
4. Sunday shopping at City Market
Wellington's leading food artisans gather to sell their wares beside the harbour. Buy ultra-fresh, line-caught fish, drool over tables of ready-ripened French cheese, drink a coffee and smell the freshly baked artisan bread.
Sunday morning, under the atrium, Chaffers Dock building, 1 Herd St. www.citymarket.co.nz
5. A Wellington-brewed craft beer at Little Beer Quarter
More craft beer is drunk in Wellington than anywhere else in New Zealand, and of the dozen or more independent craft breweries and beer halls that have sprung up around the city in recent years, one of the liveliest is Little Beer Quarter, tucked away with a handful of other bars and live music venues in Edward Street.
6 Edward St, ph 04 803 3304, littlebeerquarter.co.nz
6. A cafe/bar crawl of Cuba Street
Now known as the Cuba Quarter, Wellington's last remaining precinct of Victorian/Edwardian brick buildings is today a bohemian concentration of cafes, bars, second hand bookstores and fashion boutiques, as colourful as the hipsters and emos who frequent them.
7. Roti Canai at Roti Chenai
Ethnic restaurants from all over Asia now account for half the eating houses in Wellington, but for some odd reason, Wellingtonians have developed a particular taste for Malaysian food. Roti Chenai is one of the central city's oldest Malaysian restaurants, and its freshly made roti canai flatbread, served with a curry of your choice, is still one of the best.
120 Victoria St, ph 04 4382 9807, www.rotichenai.co.nz
8. A food tour of Petone
Jackson Street and environs in suburban Petone is home to a surprising collection of spice shops, gourmet stores and coffee roasters. Buy aged gouda and salted licorice from the Dutch Store, Italian specialties of all kinds from importer La Bella Italia, fresh spices from various Indian-run shops. Finally, ramble around the Aladdin's Cave that is On Trays Emporium.
9. Day trip - a vineyard tour of Martinborough
Once a sleepy farming service centre, Martinborough has steadily risen upon the district's international reputation as a premium producer of pinot noir. Today Martinborough's immaculately restored colonial buildings serve as restaurants, bars, wine shops, delis and frou frou boutiques. Most (though not all) of the notable wineries can be found near the town, along the Martinborough Terrace.
10. Patisserie at La Cloche
The stretch of road leading from Aotea Quay around the corner to The Hutt Road is only half-jokingly nick-named The French Quarter: begin by buying a loaf of artisan-baked bread at Bordeaux Bakery, proceed to taste Wellington's widest selection of imported French cheeses at the deli attached to Le Marche Francais cafe, then stop for coffee and patisserie at La Cloche.
134 Hutt Road, ph 04 4 473 4892, www.lacloche.co.nz
- Good Food