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Keeping Wellington quirky: Counter Culture & Photonflux

By Heather 7 Aug 2017

Street widening, tree planting, apartment building…. it’s all going on up Victoria Street.  

And now there are groovy new eats to go with it.

Counter Cult MAIN

Counter Culture

211 Victoria Street

Counter Culture is a board game café in the former Crafters premises, brought to us by Ahmed Bulbulia and Emma Smart (look for their awesome street art). 

The concept is inspired by Snakes and Lattes in Toronto from where Ahmed originally hails, with the name Counter Culture reflecting the resurgence of the non-electronic (although you’ll see below I still managed to get a screen in front of me with a round of good old Battleship!).

The 300+ games (they're aiming at 500) started from Ahmed and Emma’s private collection, and cover the whole gambit from kids to classics, party to cooperative (where you have to work together to beat the game rather than each other), and dexterity to Gamers’ games. To name just a few. 

But interestingly, the clientelle isn’t a whole bunch of nerdy hard-core gamers. It’s people like you and me who enjoy a tasty bite or drink over games we haven’t seen in a long time (yes we got sidetracked by the nostalgia of old favourites), or the adventure of new games (next time). And totally family friendly. 

Sam is one of the game ‘guru’s’ available over busy evening and weekend periods to help you learn new games. And was very welcoming on our visit, whipping out delicious eats, pouring crafty beers, extracting Good Fortune coffees, mixing house cocktails, and uncorking a range of New Zealand wines (yeah okay, it wasn’t all for us), on top of helping us with games.

Of course we conveniently went along at lunchtime (you would expect no less of me right?), and found the highly recommended ‘Primordial’ lentil and vegetable soup to be highly recommendable, and the bacon caesar to be light, fresh and crisp. 

There’s a range of Junior items on the menu (smaller portions of standard dishes), loads of non-alcoholics, and we loved the dish naming – Pick up Sticks (skewers), Clash of Steel (oats), Incan Gold (tabbouleh salad), Glory to Rome (burger), and Pudding Wars (brown rice pudding). 

If you just fancy a snack, you can fill a ‘Monster Mix’ cup from jars of seeds, pretzels, nuts and sweets on the counter, or simply ‘Let them Eat Cake’, from the day’s cake and slice selection. They also sell board games on site, at what looked like pretty good prices. 

From 11am til late Tuesday to Sunday. 

NOTE other than weekdays before 3pm, you need to pay a $5 per person surcharge which contributes to maintaining and expanding the games collection. And do book if you have a group.


Photon sign


176 Victoria Street

This is also a very groovy spot. A Sci Fi eatery, drinkery and photography space. Yep you read that right. 

Nina and Anton also wanted to do something a little different, combing their love of art and Sci Fi with food and drink. 

Upstairs is currently used as a photography studio by Anton (among other things), but there are ideas of turning it into a public gallery space with interesting exhibitions so you can eat, drink and be challenged.

The menu features ‘Fluxbun’ sandwiches (I so expected the Delorean to come blasting through the front door!) – South African inspired thin crispy fried dough filled with delicious things like house smoked Kahawai with curried aoili and citrus soaked raisins, or slow cooked ox tongue with pickled vegetables and grape violet mustard. Again, you read that right.

Below is the spiced broad bean fritter version with pickled red chillies and minted cream fraiche (can be made vegan as well) . Tangy and tasty, and suprisingly not fatty or unhealthy feeling at all. 

I looked hard at the warm pumkin’ cakes which are apparently an interesting mix of sweet and savoury, but instead enjoyed a couple of brownie bites made by Lashings Desserts, who share the kitchen in the premises. The Mojito bite was refreshing (a weird word to associate with brownie I know!), while the vegemite version was intriguingly umami. Both had a lovely dense chocolatey texture.

The drinks include a range of crafty beers, wines by the glass, Six Barrel Soda, kombucha, and bottomless coffee. And the décor is a veritable explosion of Sci Fi paraphernalia and art, with a collection of black and white movie prints from Back to the Future through to the harder core Aliens or Predators. I could have spent hours checking them out. 

And if you need more entertainment than that, there’s a Star Trek pinball machine, Sci Fi books to read, and a handful of games as well. 

Tuesday to Thursday 4pm til late, and Friday to Sunday noon til late.

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