Wellington Restaurants and Pubs
There are a couple of events that serious food buffs should look out for
when visiting Wellington. The New Zealand Wine and Food Festival is
typically held in mid-November at the Civic Square. The following
week, there is the Martinborough food and wine festival held in
Martinborough (one hour north of Wellington), and in February there is
the Marlborough Food and Wine festival in Blenheim (in the South Island,
but not far from Wellington).
General Note on Bringing Your Own Wine/Alcohol
Restaurants in New Zealand describe themselves either as
licensed, which means they are able to sell alcohol, BYO (bring your
own), or unlicensed (meaning they can't serve alcohol on the
premises). Just to make things confusing some places are both
licensed and BYO, meaning they will both sell you alcohol or let you
bring your own.
Quite a few restaurants in New Zealand let you take your own wine,
which lets you enjoy the wines you really prefer and which you think
will best complement your meal. This also tends to cut the price of
the meal significantly. Even places that have a liquor license
will usually let you bring your own
wine/alcohol, but will often charge a 'corkage fee'. Sometimes
they will try to dissuade you, but if you are polite and persistant
they'll usually agree. A reasonable amount to expect to pay for
corkage is no more than 2 dollars. (Even with the corkage fee, it's
usually much cheaper to bring your own.) It's always worth calling
ahead to check.
Some recommended restaurants in Wellington
Zeno's, for great, ultra-fresh seafood and Mediterrenean cuisine. The
restaurant is in Island Bay, right next to the seashore. Zeno's has
seafood that is as fresh as it gets - sometimes one can see them
bringing in bags of shellfish that have the water streaming out of
them and which have literally just been taken from the sea. The owner
and head chef, Alex Shaw, manages to bring together a rigorous
knowledge of traditional French/Italian cuisine, with some inspired
innovation and the freshest produce. He's also a very sociable chap,
so don't be surprised if you find him perched at your table
introducing himself. Prices vary but are pretty reasonable, with
mains averaging between NZ$12.00 and NZ$15.00. You may need to book
early as Zeno's tends to be very popular.
Cafe Paradiso is the place where the hip young crowd can be found.
It offers French and Italian cuisine in a rather chic setting.
Main courses average around NZ$16-20.00. There is also a bar and good
coffee. It's located on the corner of Courtney Place and Blair St.
Pharazyn House in Lower Hutt is about 20 minutes from Wellington, a
bit off the beaten path, but is definitely worth the effort. It has
great food, and especially good game food. The gentleman who runs it
is a chef instructor, and has his chefs in training cook under
his supervision, so the food varies a bit, but is usually
brilliant, occasionally mediocre and sometimes sublime. The
restaurant is in a big, old, remodelled mansion, and you can ask for one of
several different sized rooms.
The Mount Victoria Cafe has great vegetarian food. It doesn't
serve haute cuisine, but it is very cheap and serves excellent
food. One should arrive early - it opens at 6:00 pm - since the food usually
goes quite fast. You can get a great view of the city by driving up a
bit to the Mount Victoria lookout area. The Mount Victoria
Cafe is on the corner of Brougham and Queen St.
Strawberry Fare is another great specialist dessert restaurant
which also has some nice main dishes. Situated in a converted house,
the restaurant is friendly and cosey. Won't traumatize your arteries the way
Death by Chocolate will, but that can be nice too. Open 11am-late, 7
days. 25 Kent Terrace, Wellington, Ph. 0-4 385 2551.
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