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Summer beanbags and courtyards

By Heather 10 Jan 2017

Arborist Rooftop Bar
Photo credit: Arborist Facebook

Finally!  Weather for leisurely lunches, rooftop bars, beanbags and courtyards. 

In addition to Greta's favourite courtyards of a while ago (which I totally concur with), I’ve added a few more below, along with some fav beanbag spots for good measure. 

The Thorndon quarter

The Thistle Inn’s courtyard is a real sun-trap and entirely sheltered, so perfect for a cruisy lunch or after-work drink. I’ve been eyeing up their fish and chip platter for a while now (clearly my recent platter jaunt didn’t kill the desire!), and am rather partial to their kumara chips with blue cheese dip. 

The Sprig and Fern Thorndon is a perfect spot to enjoy craft beers and Siggy’s pies, with an excellent beer and pie tasting board presented for Visa Wellington On a Plate (VWOAP) these last two years (sage advice – don’t share). I also really like being able to crack out a board game while enjoying a brew or two. 

Thorndon Rydges on Hawkestone Street shouldn’t be under-estimated either. Although the bar's courtyard is a little breezier than others, it's very peaceful and there’s some good food coming out of the kitchen now for a three-star hotel. Totally under the radar. Go for lunch soon.

The Lambton/Willis quarter 

The courtyard at The General Practitioner (GP) is a great place to people-watch and produces hearty and interesting gastropub food. I remember fondly the Monteiths Wild Food-winning black beer potted pigeon with nettle butter from a few years ago. 

I also recently popped into LeRoy's Bar (the old Hideaway) to check out their refit and new courtyard, and was impressed with their tacos and fried chicken (a $16,000 pressure cooker at work), as well as the OTT décor. We’ll bring you more in another post, but do pop by and check it out. 

You can’t beat Arborist’s rooftop on a fine day, or The Bresolin courtyard. Especially on the last Sunday of the month when they hold their beast feast with live tunes, craft beer and a plateful of roasted deliciousness (Mexican themed this month). Contact The Bresolin for tickets.

The waterfront 

It's all about beanbags on the waterfront – at the Crabshack, Karaka, St John’s bar, Mac’s Brewery and Chalk.

Beanbags aren’t the most elegant thing to climb out of (try it after a few drinks, go on, I dare you…), but they’re most definitely comfortable and a wonderful way to enjoy leisurely eats and drinks. Make sure to plaster on the sunscreen first so you don’t become lobster-like. 

I recently enjoyed the muttonbird pâté on rewana bread at Karaka (there is silky pâté under that lovely buttery seal in the pic below), and even astonished myself by liking the marinated olives. A delightful interlude from the day's chores.

The Cuba quarter 

In addition to Greta's favs - Fidels, Havana, the Southern Cross, OliveMatterhorn and The Rogue & Vagabond - there's a whole bunch of other good spots tucked away in this quarter, including the recently opened Husk.

The quality and presentation of tapas in the El Matador courtyard recently impressed me. My favourite was the empanada, while the chip fiend was more into the sardines. Hey, you just can't help some people. 

If you haven’t seen the Laundry kitchen in action (i.e. the caravan in the courtyard), or enjoyed Tuatara Third Eye’s tasting experience, you really, really should. The Laundry produced the winning burger and beer match for VWOAP in both 2015 and 2016, and the Third Eye folks do excellent tastings and flights. 

I’m also heading back to Arthur's shortly to check out how the new owners are getting on (and Martha's for tea and cake because, well, just because). My first eat at the new Arthur's last year was very pleasant so I’m expecting good things. 

The Courtenay quarter

Dragonfly is currently operating as a pop-up out of Mojo St James across the road while the Reading carpark is demolished, but is definitely a favourite, along with Ancestral and The Hop Garden (now also with the Top Garden rooftop).

I also enjoy the Chow upstairs courtyard (especially with a kitchen open til midnight!), Motel’s teeny tiny courtyard with stunning art (and pineapple lumps and buttered popcorn, mmm….), Nicolini’s courtyard out back (ask when booking to be seated out there) and Basque’s fresh and open upstairs courtyard (it would be remiss not to enjoy a sangria or two). 

They're all places that'll fuel your revelry at the myriad bars and clubs in the quarter (not that we're inciting unruly behaviour!), or provide a little rest and respite from the carnage. Most of these places run into the wee smalls.

The Chocolate Fish

And I absolutely cannot finish without talking about the iconic Chocolate Fish at Shelley Bay - the ultimate beanbag and courtyard venue.

There's loads of beanbag and courtyard areas out front (complete with the delighted squeals of youngsters), and an adults only quiet courtyard out back.

What better place to enjoy a traditional BBQ sammie, followed by their signature chocolate fish cake, while gazing back at the city?


Where are your favourite courtyards or beanbag spots?

Choc fish 3

Chocolate Fish Cafe

Kiwiana kai (food) by the sea (and best whitebait fritters in town).

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