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By Tom• 7 Feb 2019
You might expect February to be quiet on the new bar/eatery front, but Wellington is practically bursting at the seams with enticing new venues. We rounded up some of the newest haunts vying for your attention, your taste buds and your waistline:
The Ascot has become something of a secret hangout for those in hospitality. Perhaps it’s the old Krazy Lounge sign and recycled timber (a throwback to the late 90s), or perhaps it’s the secluded rooftop space above 1154 Pastaria and Nightflower. Either way, it’s an unassuming, blank canvas, ready to be painted by its patrons – and testament that sometimes we don’t need all the fancy trimmings to make a venue appealing.
For some time, owner Cosmo, has wanted to modernise the hotdog stand. His “Hawke Dogs” idea transformed into ''The Ascot"" wine bar only by chance when he stumbled across the old Ascot cinema sign – a fortuitous discovery considering his grandparents once ran the cinema’s candy store. Sunshine, natural wines, and loaded hotdogs (or carrot “not-dogs” for the vegetarians) – what more could you need on a summer’s evening?
Amador is a classy and cosy new rooftop bar, perched above the Press Hall laneway on Willis Street.
The owners' attention to detail has provided it with a rich history befitting the former heart of the Wellington Newspapers Group: “Amador” is the name of a font once used in The Evening Post, and much of the bar is made from an impressive selection of recycled timbers, including old Kauri flooring.
As for its menu, Amador boasts an extensive local and international wine list, as well as food to match – including freshly shucked oysters, charcuterie, and cheeses. It's open all day for breakfast and lunch with cabinet food provided by Egmont Street Eatery. Yes, beer drinkers, there are local taps for you here too!
Situated at 99 Manners Street, Eden is the city’s only Iranian fusion eatery and coffee house. It’s family run, proud to support the local refugee community, and prides itself on its sustainability and sourcing of local produce.
The menu is split in two parts: what’s on display (you can pick any number of cabinet dishes to eat in or takeaway), and special pre-orders (requiring at least 24 hours’ notice to prepare). You’ll find a range of rice, stews, and salads – all light and fresh – including a number of gluten free and vegetarian options. There are also traditional Iranian saffron teas on offer and the city’s only Arabic coffee brewed with cardamom.
Goldie’s mural “Never Grow Up” illustrates its commitment to being young and fun – immediately appealing to Instagrammers looking for that light, cutesy, neon vibe. It’s also part of the growing Taiwanese bubble-tea movement, offering a variety of teas in either fruit or milk flavours, with or without tapioca balls, and sweetened to your taste.
It seems all of the Asian-fusion offerings at Goldie are made to be Insta-worthy: from the longest fries in town, to the loaded hot dogz (vegan options available), the impressive bubble waffles, and – last but not least – specialty gold-leaf soft-serve in a charcoal cone.
The team from Egmont Street Eatery and Sterling Woodfire Eatery is now slinging burgers every weekday on The Terrace. Within two weeks of opening, queues of passionate burger fans have started spilling onto the street.
Choose from beef, cheese, chicken, or vege (with further customisation available on request), and you'll receive a classic American burger-shack offering: juicy, balanced, well-seasoned, in a great bun. The pickles and sauce are house-made, the vege burger boasts a whole portobello mushroom, and the shoestring fries are perfectly cooked. The best part is – there’s more to come, with a breakfast menu and a weekly “Rogue Burger” special on the way!
6. Lord of the Fries
Wellington has been waiting for its first Lord of the Fries for some time – and it arrived suddenly on Cuba Street without any real fuss or fanfare. It’s fairly typical of the Melbourne-based chain, which offers something unique without getting up in your face about it: all of the food offerings here are vegan, kosher and halal.
Seriously, this is one of the few burger joints with true stories of meat-eaters not realising the food was vegan. If you’re not convinced, try the Original or Spicy and you’ll see why – the presentation and flavours are indeed beefy. Also on the menu are of course fries (classic, chunky, shoestring, or sweet potato), ‘chickn’ nuggets, hotdogs, brekky buns, waffles, and shakes – need we reiterate, all 100% vegan.