Fine dining would definitely be one of my favourite dining experiences. I love dressing up, I love myself a good degustation or wine pairing and I love the refined techniques and flavours I expect to receive when I at at a place like that. Wellington, as New Zealand’s culinary capital, offers a fair range of fine-dining options. Here are some of my favourites:
Logan Brown: I sometimes forget as I’m walking up Cuba Street that nestled among the op shops and emporiums, the hipsters and musicians, lies Logan Brown; one of Wellington’s finest dining restaurants. There are a range of dining options available; great value is the bistro menu. On Saturdays, for only $45 you can indulge in a three course set menu provided you are out by 7.30pm. Logan Brown also plays home to a number of events, especially during Wellington on a Plate. I once attended a fabulous night celebrating the cuisines of some of Wellington’s refugees. The cocktail menu at Logan Brown is exceptional and expansive, lots of classics with lots of twists.
Hippopotamus: The absolute epitome of fine-dining, this place is next level! I used to walk past it every day as I walked to work, but have never had a wallet deep enough to allow me to venture inside. One day, I somehow roped in my cousin to come with me on a Sunday evening, and after upgrading our Sunday sweatpants to our Sunday Best, we were ready to go. The place is truly magnificent. The service is exceptional; the menus is eccentric and the décor is lush. I couldn’t wait to go back. I celebrated an anniversary dinner there only recently and was again blown away by the sheer quality of the food, the intimacy our table arrangement provided and the extra efforts the staff went to on our special night. It leaves me glowing thinking about it!
Capitol: Elegant and smart, but still relaxed and welcoming, Capitol perches on the edge of the city, right by the Embassy Cinema. It has the feel of a glamourous fish bowl, due to two walls comprised predominantly of glass and traffic lights from the intersection outside glimmering in. It is much smaller than it looks anticipated, but it doesn’t feel cramped – so it just adds to the ambience. The staff are all very professional and friendly, and the service is exceptional. The food is absolutely mouth-watering: fresh, delicate and well-thought out. In the past Capitol hasn’t accepted bookings, but this has recently changed so that you can now book in and save your spot.
WBC: Tucked away upstairs and essentially invisible, the Wholesale Boot Company offers its customers so much more than what initially meets the eye. The first time I went there was during Wellington on a Plate 2015, and while mildly impressed, I didn’t see the urge to go rushing back. But after my most recent visit that opinion has changed; the decor, food and service all exceeded my expectations. Sister restaurant to Capitol, WBC is a smaller version of the same – but still boasting the same quality. Its decor is unique, with large concrete pillars crisscrossing above (apparently integral to its structure – which we are all grateful for in these earthquake decorated times). The menu itself is delicious and designed to share. It is hard to go past those freshly shucked mouthfuls of oyster goodness, and the rest of the menu contains a heavy Asian influence.
Boulcott Street Bistro: Intimate fine-dining, this cute little place had long been on my radar. They don’t take bookings after six, which is ideal for a disorganised bunch. The service is great; everyone is always really happy to answer any questions about the menu. It is bigger than I realised, basically with two separate compartments to the restaurant in addition to the bar. There is heaps of natural lighting which makes it feel even more spacious. The menu is pretty small; essentially one of each kind of protein. Everything we had was cooked to absolute perfection, so it is definitely a place to be adventurous, as you can also guarantee that it will be 10/10. There is also a voucher for it in the Entertainment Book (just in case you needed another incentive to visit).
Dragonfly: Dragonfly shines in all regards. The food is delicious, the service is exceptional, the atmosphere exclusive and the décor beautiful. It is really expensive, but honestly, I have never heard of anyone ever, say they had a bad experience there. Dragonfly is essentially Asian fusion, offering a wide range of different size plates – best for sharing in my opinion. It’s one of the few fine dining restaurants in Wellington whose atmosphere is constantly humming; it would be right at home downtown Tokyo or New York. The garden bar and courtyard is adorable; a lovely spot for one of Dragonfly’s extensive range of cocktails.
Rita: Brought to us by the lovelies from Nikau Café, Rita is small, intimate and worth booking. It is a three-course set menu for $65, excluding drinks and sides. The menu changes regularly, depending on what is seasonal and what the chef feels like making. The tables are super cute, with drawers that pull out containing all of your cutlery, napkins and pepper. The absence of salt was noted, an indicator that the chef should be trusted to accurately season the food. A set menu means I get to try things that I wouldn’t normally order, and at a nice restaurant you can put faith in the food to be delicious no matter what. The total bill usually comes to about $80 each, which for a fine dining, beautiful experience was an amount well worth spending. Rita is a great place to go for nice catch-ups, or celebratory meals.