Play Four Square in Wellington!

Foursquare has arrived in Wellington – and we’re one of the first Australasian cities to be included!


But, you say, "I thought Four Square was a chain of over-sized dairies with a charmingly retro Dick Frizzell logo!" To which we’d say, "Ho ho, you cheeky post-ironic urbanites, we mean Foursquare, the location-based social networking game that’s taking the world by storm!"


You may remember back in September we wrote about Twitterplaces, which rather sadly shut up shop almost immediately thereafter. Well, Foursquare was the inspiration for Twitterplaces: when you go to a new place; a bar, restaurant, park, anything, you "check-in"; and then you can see who of your friends are there.


Four Square Wellington LeaderboardAnd that’s just the beginning. There’s an overview of it all here, but here’s the basics.


You can leave tips for things to do at each place, or add other people’s tips to your list; you earn points for check-ins outside work hours, and you can earn badges for various "achievements", like the Bender badge (when you are out for four nights in a row), or the Gym Rat badge (when you are a regular at places tagged as a "Gym").


And: you can become Mayor of a spot by being the person checking-in most often in the last 60 days (though perhaps one should exercise discretion as to where one checks-in if one doesn’t want to become Mayor of a supermarket or shopping centre, like <coff> some of our readers—whom we are too polite to name).


One of the nice things that’s happened in other cities is that Mayors are often rewarded by the proprietors of their places – and that’s what’s happened here already at Mojo Old Bank, where Matt will stand a free coffee to the newly crowned Mayor. We can think of a few other places that we’d like to see extending this sort of courtesy! (Especially the ones we go to often.)


Foursquare depends on having some sort of internet capable mobile device: there’s a mobile web version, as well as the inevitable iPhone and Android apps – and by design these are the only ways you can do check-ins.


So sign up, get out there, and see if you can unseat Pablo G. from the top of the Wellington Leaderboard!

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.


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.

Don’t need to be Koi, Roy…

…but Koi looks like it’s not too far away as the replacement for Copita, with logos all over the awning already. The food sounds quite interesting, but it will mainly be bar snacks, with the emphasis a bit more on drinking than in its illustrious fine-dining predecessor.

As my colleagues mentioned, I’ve been busily tweeting away, but for those not following the tweets, here’s a summary of recent news, gossip and speculation, plus a few other morsels…

A fistful of gelato

Caffe e Gelato has just opened on the waterfront at the base of the NZX building. With the weather like this right now, it may be worth noting that as an opening special, this week they are offering single scoop gelato cones for just $1.

Caffe e Gelato

People’s Empire

Newtown may or may not be a bit shit, but their right-on coffee company People’s Coffee (sorry, I couldn’t resist adding the apostrophe) certainly know their shit. Their presence in central Wellington is expanding, and two recently-opened cafés proudly stock the People’s brand: Meow and Mon Ami.

Meow, seen from its TV

Meow has taken over the space of the former (and much lamented) Roti, next to Quoil in Willis St. The decor’s only had a mild makeover, but the retro kitschy kiwiana theme is pretty consistent, with the usual Tretchikoffesque prints, orange lampshades and ’70s TV augmented by some nice chunky crockery. I haven’t eaten there yet, but the brunch menu included some interesting variations on the standards, such as pinenut & saffron scrambled eggs, cashew & cranberry rosti with haloumi and rocket, and all sorts of things with "wild" bacon.

In Bond St, a French café called Mon Ami has also recently opened. It’s interesting that while many French places in downtown Wellington emphasise the stylish urban theme (e.g. Simply Paris, Le Metropolitain), Mon Ami is full of outdoorsy magazines, and their website goes on about "tramping, sailing, kayaking, biking, paraglyding". The decor manages to look both rustic and sterile at the same time, but even if that’s not your thing, dishes such as rabbit terrine and roquefort & sultana loaf (at reasonable lunchtime prices) should be enough to tempt you in.

With Swagger

Often with the Wellingtonista we tell you things. Today, however, we’re asking for things. Specifically:

1. Swag: Wellington is going to be having its first Girl Geek dinner, and I’m putting together Swag Bags – if you have something you’d like to put in around 50 bags for 50 technologically-minded and intelligent women, please get in touch – johubris @

2. Contra: Last night lots of us attended a Bloggers’ Meet-Up, and the awesome Epic Beer came up with some lubrication to get us started. The Wellingtonista absolutely would be very very keen on doing this sort of thing more often. We’re working on our guidelines, and templates to allow space for brand exposure, but this is just a heads up: if you offer good products or services, and want to reach our smart readers who like disposing of their incomes, we would like to work with you, so get in touch.

Introducing: The Masked Barfly

The Masked BarflyWho (or what) is The Masked Barfly? Maybe the primly pinstriped connoisseur sipping Viognier at Arbitrageur? The earnest beer geek debating Saaz hops and top-fermented ales at Bar Edward? What about the tight-panted hipster knocking back deeply ironic cask wine at Mighty Mighty? Or perhaps all of the above and more?

We at the Wellingtonista have never been shy about our love for the delicious demon drink, but now we can introduce to you our newest and most disreputable writer: The Masked Barfly. She, he or it (it’s hard to tell with invertebrates, especially when they are inveterate inebriates) will be brought in as a specialist correspondent to bring you the latest hospitality news, the hottest drinking tips and the most salacious gossip that the libel laws will allow.

The fly has eclectic tastes, so expect everything from decadent new cocktails to cheep beer nights, with even the odd morsel of food and coffee info thrown in. It will be buzzing around the city, bringing the news on boozing in the ‘burbs as well as the fleshpots of Courtenay & Cuba. And of course if you have tips to share, or vile unsubstantiated rumours to spread, send them our way and we’ll make sure it gets to our new correspondent.

Wellingtonista on the Wheels of Steel

VBC logoSpinning the platters that matter on VBC from 7 to 9 tonight on behalf of the Wellingtonista will be… Dan S.

Hardy souls happy to be enraged or enlightened by some blasts from the past (many tunes will be conjured from actual vinyl artifacts) can tune in on 88.3FM or by visiting where they will stream the content direct to your PC speakers. I’ll try and make a recording of the show for podcast conversion but, in the likely event I am consumed by panic, I make no guarantees.

Stephen’s intro to version 2.0 still applies:

The show will go from 7 – 9 pm, NZDT (GMT+13). The studio line is +64 4 463 9994 if you feel like ringing up and abusing/encouraging me.

Wellingtonista Radio Show ep 02

Last week saw the quiet but confident debut of the Wellingtonista Radio Show on The VBC. You can listen to an edited version of the show here Wellingtonista_Show_EP01 (right-click, save as), and hopefully we’ll get our podcasting steez together and start publishing the shows as umm.. podcasts.

I’ll be presenting the second show, same time: 7pm – 9pm, tonight.

Tech info after the jump…