Wellington has plenty to offer when it comes to food, however we decided to take a more casual approach to our dining, hoping to discover some of the more ‘tucked away’ venues. Armed with some great recommendations and a map, we took to the streets and found these three great establishments.
Duke Carvell’s Swan Lane Emporium
3 Swan Ln, Te Aro 6011, New Zealand (www)
Located in the Cuba precinct, Duke Carvell’s has hipster flare in an old pub environment. The slightly segmented seating areas mean it feels crowded without being packed and the bubbly staff make you feel at home the moment you step foot in the door. Duke’s is focused on great food and drink in a relaxed environment. The menu’s designed to share, with a strong selection of starters and mains. The mystery of the charcuterie board was enough to get us started and the house special, flaming ouzo cheese, is also a must.
After a couple of glasses of the Duke Carvell’s Pinot Noir 09 we were ready for the mains, opting for the roast lamb rack, the house gnocchi and a whipped goats cheese and beetroot salad. All were fantastic and with the sharing nature of the menu we were able to try our hand at each offering. I’m a big believer in the shared menu approach, which allows patrons to get a great insight into the personality of the chef and menu. Duke Carvell’s was a perfect introduction to the Wellington culinary world and a must do for any Wellingtonian, tourist or not.
Sweet Mother’s Kitchen
5 Courtenay Pl, Te Aro 6011, New Zealand (www)
Home style cooking with an Ameri-mexican flare. Sweet Mother’s Kitchen is a perfect night starter where the drinks are cheap and the food is delicious. Drawing on influences from New Orleans, Jamaica and Mexico the menu covers a lot of ground, however with the help of the friendly staff you’ll find your feet pretty quickly. We ate here twice over the weekend, and it was the Jerk chicken that had us hooked – a luscious chicken breast tenderised in Carribbean spiced marinade with a hint of rum, then coated in a house-made jerk rub and grilled – and yes, it tastes as good as it sounds. The atmosphere is super relaxed, the music is fun and the décor is a perfect mix of tacky and hippy.
14 Jessie St, Te Aro, Wellington 6011, New Zealand (www)
With Wellington boasting the best coffee in New Zealand we had to take a trip to Prefab – a unique and unpretentious eatery space with extraordinary natural light, large North-West facing terrace and the Southern Hemisphere’s longest espresso bar. The fit out was distinctly ‘New York’ and I hate using that term as a reference, but it’s the best way to describe it. Hardwood timber detailing, brushed metal chairs and of course the polished concrete floors create a great space capable of seating at least 100 people. We both ordered the Cheeseburger with house-made fries; it was beautifully messy and went down a treat with a homemade lemonade. We had to scrape ourselves off the sun drenched terrace to continue the day’s activities, if the afternoon had been free there’s few better places to settle into a few beers or local wines than Prefab.