August – an epic Greek food odyssey

From the glow of its walls to the menu, August serves up a warm Mediterranean twist on flavour and feel


Taranaki Street


75 Taranaki Street
Te Aro




During the pandemic lockdown, friends Lisa Lee and Tanase Antipas were on the phone having a catch-up. They were commiserating over Tanase’s redundancy from his head chef position at a local restaurant. Lisa joked, “let’s open a restaurant – you cook and I’ll manage!” And so, they did.

Housed in a hospitality space at the front of a heritage-listed Methodist church in central Wellington, August is a Mediterranean-inspired cafe and restaurant. With a moody colour palette and an intriguing menu, it's not your run-of-the-mill brunch spot. Lisa and Tanase have infused a personal touch into every aspect of the business, creating an experience that's warm, welcoming, and polished.

Behind the name

For Lisa and Tanase the name ‘August’ was a no-brainer. “There were a lot of eights floating around when we discussed names – we first decided to pursue the idea in August, it took eight months in between discussing and opening, and the search for the right venue took eight weeks.”

By definition, ‘august’ means respected and impressive. Lisa and Tanase hadn't considered that angle when choosing names, but walking into the Taranaki Street space you’d think it had informed their decoration brief. The walls and ceiling are uniformly one colour – an arresting Volcanic Brick by Resene – the serving counter is tiled in a complementing dark terracotta, and from the high vaulted ceiling, three neat rows of white orb light fittings hang over the tables. The whole space glows with a burgundy-hued warmth.

The colour and tiles also serve as a reference to Tanese’s Greek background. The rustic reds are common in the towns Tanase grew up in. It’s seen on crockery, buildings, and the dust whipped up on country roads.

The menu

Tanase’s Greek heritage, along with his Romanian roots, also influence the menu. Instead of French toast, August serves tsoureki, a Greek brioche traditionally made at Easter. Tanase adds a wicked streak of chocolate ganache through the middle for extra decadence. Instead of halloumi as a side dish, you’ll find mititei, which are Romanian skinless sausages made from ground beef, pork, garlic and paprika.

Lisa distils the Greek flavour at August down to three ingredients: olive oil (“it goes into virtually everything on the menu”), dill, and Aleppo. Aleppo comes from a burgundy chilli also known as the Halaby pepper and is akin to a mixture of sweet paprika and cayenne. The kitchen goes through 5kg of the spice per week. Aleppo chilli butter is a main ingredient for August’s famous Istanbul eggs. It has become a signature dish, with more than 400 portions a week coming out of the kitchen.

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