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(B)eating the trend

The recession may be grinding on, but it seems there are plenty of hospitality operators willing to take a bet on a new venture. In recent weeks, we’ve heard of the following (re-)openings and upcoming rumours:

  • Keenan’s (formerly New Orleans)
  • Wasabi Sushi (formerly Beaujolais)
  • Capri (formerly Koi)
  • Victorian Ale House (formerly Stanley Rd)
  • Ancestral (formerly United Video in Courtenay Pl)
  • Ozeki (brand new, on the corner of Tory St and Francis Pl)

The first three have already opened, with mixed results. Capri has had at least one very good review; Wasabi is part of the respected Kazu empire; and Keenan’s … not so much. If any of you have experiences to share about those, or juicy gossip to share about the others, let us know!

Eating our way through the recession

Remember a few months ago, when doom and gloom dominated the hospo news? Well, there certainly have been a lot of closures in central Wellington, but many of those places have re-opened, and we’ve even got a few brand-new bars and restaurants to celebrate.

Here’s a list of reincarnations:

  • Vintage → Hashigo Zake
  • Calypso → Elixir
  • Epic → Rhythm
  • Chow Cabaret → The Library
  • Paradiso → Betty’s (I insist on the apostrophe)
  • State Opera House Espresso Bar → Pollux

Some brand-new places:

  • Portofino (at Kumutoto)
  • Red Ginger (underneath Hawthorn Lounge)
  • Lychee (in the wilderness of Arthur St)

A couple of rumoured upcoming openings:

  • "Cuba" (replacing Zeal in Garrett St)
  • Yet another Irish pub, replacing New Orleans in Allen St

That leaves a handful of recent failures yet to be revived:

  • Herd St Brasserie
  • Subway at Chaffers Dock
  • Emporio in Chews Lane

If anything, the industry looks to be healthier than a few months ago, and a few of the new places (Pollux, Hashigo Zake and The Library in particular) are among our new favourites. If this means that consumers have stopped spending on Plasma TVs while still dining out, then I applaud their good taste. Of course, it could mean that we’re all committing kuidaore (a Japanese term roughly meaning "to ruin oneself through extravagance in food"). But what a lovely way to go.

Comings and Goings

The start of each year often sees a shake-up of the bar and restaurant scene, and with the Current Economic ClimateTM one might expect a few more closures than usual. Let’s not dwell on such morbid speculation, and look at a few closings and openings that we do know about.

While discussing the demise of Temperance (which didn’t reopen this weekend, despite DB’s threats assurances), Blair mentioned that the Courtenay Arms had been replaced by something called "The Kiwi Pub". It doesn’t look quite as dire as I had feared, and its light, airy feel is more beach café than six-o’clock swill. It’s still nostalgia-by-numbers, though, presumably aimed at the backpacker market, and despite the odd decent beer on the list, the Society Of Beer Advocates is not impressed.

The Kiwi Pub

Across the road, New Orleans will open its new Allen St location in a a couple of weeks, in the space long left vacant by the unlamented Play. I hope it lasts longer than its cursed Lambton Quay incarnation, and while it’s presumably aiming at a different demographic, its Cajun cuisine will have stiff competition from Sweet Mother’s Kitchen around the corner.

Read more…

Music to brew your beer to

Wellington on a Plate is well known for its exquisite dining, incredible burgers and interesting events and this year San Fran are putting on a fantastic series. Music2Brew2 brings together three Wellington breweries who have been brewing under the influence. Inspired by three Wellington bands Panhead, Garage Project and Tuatara have all brewed a beer that […]

Do I look like a burger yet?

So a further update on the WOAP menus and burgers (some just because they’re within easy striking distance of one’s corporate workplace)… Pan de Muerto’s Mollete (pictured minus its lid for photographic purposes) was pretty good but could have done with more pork in proportion to the nasty beans. Charlie Bill’s Miss Piggy is Hot to […]

The power of Voodoo (who do?)

When we talked about the Rapture, we mentioned Voodoo Restaurant on Manners Street in brief, but that really wasn’t enough. Seeing it’s got the Grabone treatment today (hurry! Only three hours left!), we do need to tell you just how damn delicious Voodoo is. In the wacked out Disneyland atmosphere of the old Harem, Voodoo is trying […]

Stuff our readers like

We have a guest post for you by the voluble Anna Jane Wilson who also likes hats, boots, coats and scarves.

My goodness, it’s already July – I can’t quite believe we’re halfway through our Roman calendars, but all evidence says – 10 July 2009. July, albeit cold and windy in this wonderful city, is going to be a large one.

The four main things that keep me warm in winter are jazz, walking, films, and dance. I’m new to Wellington, but apparently this city has a lot of jazz, thus, my soul will be kept very warm.

continues after the jump…


Die-hard Espressoholic fans seem to be happy that it will continue in a new location, taking over from Dorothy’s Patisserie in Cuba St. There are still grumblings about its previous location being taken over by "another godawful Courtenay Place bar", but there are signs that its replacement, "Enigma", might not be another Shooters or Electric Avenue. For a start, the sign in the window describes it as a "café/bar", and the painting going on inside seems to have a similar graffiti theme to the old place. Some have even said that there are links to the old Espressoholic management, so perhaps some of whatever it was that people saw in the place will remain, for better or worse. But are we to expect a soundtrack of Gregorian chants and shakuhachi samples?

There are plenty of other changes going on in the bar and café world, and it’s not all doom & gloom. I’ll keep you in on the gossip after the jump.