Fun fine dining at Ortega Fish Shack
Ordering steak frites at Wellington's top seafood restaurant will feel like a form of sacrilege, but trust us and go with it.
16 Majoribanks St
Ortega is one of those restaurants equally beloved by locals and visitors. Described by one reviewer as ‘fine dining in disguise', Ortega is upmarket dining with a laidback, good-time vibe.
Ortega's popularity is down to its two owners: award-winning maitre d' Davey McDonald, who'll welcome you to the Shack with a grin and fondly farewell you by the door at the end of the night; and Mark Limacher, an award-winning chef who has been quietly influential in the food world. The likes of Ben Shewry of Melbourne's Attica, voted one of the world's top 50 restaurants in 2018, started out working under him.
Ortega's aesthetic is beachside bistro: weatherboard shutters, mosaic-tiled floors, walls covered with nautical paraphernalia and mounted fish. The waitstaff are clad in casual clothes and leather aprons and like Davey, they're the perfect mix of knowledgeable, attentive and friendly.
Despite how good the steak is, Ortega is a seafood restaurant serving up fresh and sustainably-caught New Zealand kaimoana (seafood). The menu changes each day, depending on what fish is available but whatever comes in, there's always ceviche on the menu – fresh raw fish with Asian herbs, crispy shallots and ginger-spiked dressing - this is a dish that would cause a riot among regulars if it were ever taken off the menu.
Ortega has a drinks list which can only be described as epic. With descriptive chapters that will make you smile and make you thirsty, Davey and his crew will merrily take you on a guided tour or lead you straight to what you didn't know you felt like drinking. And if sherry is your thing, you've come to the right place. Ortega isn't cheap, but as Citizens of the World so aptly put it, "...you're spending upwards of $NZ34 for a main but you're almost not even aware of it because you're enjoying yourself too much to mind."
Fun, friendly fine dining - you heard it here first, folks.
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