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By Heather• 11 Jan 2016 • 1 Comments
Astoria have been a part of Wellington’s fabric for as long as I can remember – in fact 20 years this 23rd of January.
Their birthday festivities will commence on the 23rd and run for upwards of a month, including a menu of favourite dishes from the 20 years, various coffee giveaways, bubbly in the evenings for regulars, and activities to thank their treasured partners like Kaibosh food rescue (and keep an eye on the Ruth Pretty weekender favourite recipes around that time too).
You can read their history here, with more stories to be added soon about the adventures of past staff - you’d be surprised at how many are around the city with their own fantastic businesses now. I had a wee chuckle at what they got away with in London coffee-wise back in the day (The Beginnings post) and how they entertained the taxi drivers outside Cafe Braga in the 90’s (the Café Braga and Get Stuffed Catering post).
Given I live locally and pop in and out of Astoria reasonably often, below are some images from recent visits.
I particularly enjoy that Astoria's food is fresh, seasonal and without frill, and that they maintain a nice balance of signature dishes (the mince on toast, and bacon sandwich) with new innovations (the chicken and prawn nasi goreng). Their dishes are well balanced in both flavour and texture, are light in the stomach, and leave me feeling happy – the bircher muesli nicely dense with creamy greek yoghurt and tangy fruit, and the parmesan chicken moist and lightly parmesany against crisp corn, avocado and tomato.
You might want to make sure though that you take an empty belly to brunch, as my neighbour recently discovered when a veritable mountain arrived at his table (to be fair I think the chunky bread beneath the bacon and eggs were the low-lying foothills to the spectacular mountain).
As to the coffee, Astoria still roast their own in-house daily at 5am. In typical Kiwi and Astoria fashion, the lad who roasts their coffee started out in the kitchen, moved to a mix of roasting and baking, then undertook a building apprenticeship while continuing to roast, and now still pops by to roast before heading off to build for the day.
The coffee is rich, toasty and dark, and they go through approx 175 kg of roasted coffee a week (and yes, the remainder of that white chocolate and berry brioche was delicious with gelato later too!).
Astoria always has a buzz, even when only part full, and despite how busy they sometimes get, the place runs like a well oiled machine. Kudos to the staff.
Don’t forget you can have an after work cocktail or early evening graze, purchase gift vouchers including coffee card packs (who says you can’t gift yourself?), or take away their delicious coffee for home use. AND they have low-gluten, vegetarian, vegan and dairy free menus.
So, my friends, you are invited to come and help Sue, Janice and team celebrate their well-deserved 20th birthday. Presents not required.
Astoria, Wellington's iconic cafe, has proudly served over 1000 customers daily, since 1996.