Wellington & Wairarapa Watering Holes – Part 1

As part of a 4-day weekend away (based around the awesomeness of attending the Toast Martinborough  Wine, Food & Music Festival), a group of us spent some quality time in our fair nation’s capital and re-acquainted ourselves with this fantastically funky city. I always seem to somehow forget how much fun Wellington is and I never seem to spend enough time there. This time I managed to squeeze in a quite a few places of interest during my (approximately) 33 hours in this windy-yet-loveable (much like myself) city:

1. The Occidental, Lambton Quay

A typical Monteiths bar with old wooden furniture, “craft” beer and a distinct Irish feel to it. Also, this one had the advantage of employing staff that are as fun to talk to as letterboxes.  In fact, I’d probably get a higher degree of conversational response out of a bottle of malt vinegar (I was stuck for an appropriate analogy so resorted to the first inanimate object I could find). Anyhow, the beer was cold and good, the chicken fillets & chips were fantastic and… to be fair, any bar was going to suffice when each of our significant others were creating havoc in the local shopping precinct.

After leaving The Occidental refreshed, yet somewhat underwhlemed, I can imagine that after-work drinks would fill the place up and (according to a good source) the location would provide a fantastic “pit-stop” for those making their way from the CBD to the “Cake Tin”. There’s nothing wrong with this place really, it’s just nothing spectacular. And, like the red Powerade (ooh, controversial) on the following Saturday morning, it served its purpose.

2. The Matterhorn, Cuba Street

This place is choice. Located right next to the famous bucket fountain on the Cuba Street Mall, I found friendly staff and a chilled-out-yet-busy atmosphere. The Matterhorn was also the bar that I had my favouritest yummy beer of the weekend – Emerson’s Pilsner. But back to the bar…

Pleasantly low-lit surroundings inside, bordering on dark, and a concrete courtyard packed with the early-arrivers greeted our arrival. Despite this, I felt both settings were comfortable and funky and was a little gutted the outside part was so packed – so ended up at a quiet table inside. The waitstaff seemed relaxed enough to have a laugh, make sure you’re looked after and, all importantly, ensure you have a full drink! I will definitely be back to this place.

3. Istanbul, Cuba Street

Conveniently located further up Cuba Street from the Matterhorn, this place does Turkish and does it well! The service is super-awesome with real-life Turks strolling around being all Turkish-like, hitting on ladies, getting away with it, laughing far too loudly at their own jokes and generally making everyone feel right at home. The relatively high ceilings amplify the rowdiness but that’s all part of the appeal as, by look of the clientele, eating here serves as a segue from one level of rowdiness (home) to another (town). The food was good, not fantastic, but decent enough to leave you satisfied while ensuring you can fit in another Efe’s Pilsner. Yum.

Istanbul also have one of the most enthusiastic belly dancers I’ve seen. But, then again, I’ve yet to visit Turkey.

Part 2 to come… Excited? Nah. Neither.

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