Address: 199 Cuba St, Te Aro, Wellington 6011
It’s been a gusty day in Wellington, with a wintry chill that’s whipped straight through my springtime jacket and feels biting to this soft Auckland girl. Stepping in from the wind gives me a warm tingle. Inside the low light is seductive, candles lit at each table. The space is compact, with couples dining almost elbow to elbow with the couples on the tables either side. There are old-fashioned cotton drapes in the window, but this is no outdated bistro.
The smell is divine, making my mouth water instantly. Fragrant garlic and sizzling chorizo fill the atmosphere. Mr C eyes the menu and I catch a flicker of irritation when he notices it’s sharing plate style. Wine, I think, trying to divert attention from the heinous small plates. But our waiter is flitting from table to table, avoiding my increasingly manic eyes and smile as I try to flag him over. Not a good start.
When he finally makes our table my stomach is growling and my impatience is overflowing. We ask for the house red. He recommends we opt for a more expensive bottle. Mr C is unimpressed. I’m past caring; I just want a glass of wine. Any wine. To move things along, I agree to the pricier plonk.
Stellar mains and a carafe of said wine help the situation. Flavoursome meatballs, juicy mushrooms, crispy polenta chips and hot, fresh bread.
It’s crunch time: the all-important dessert. While I can’t skip the tiramisu ($7) – obviously – the chocolate mousse on the table diagonally over from us is making me salivate. We order both.
The cream has a full, thick texture, but is somehow still light. A good lick of vanilla infused through the creaminess gives it something different. The sponge is light and not soggy. Impressive. The problem? It’s too sweet. There isn’t that boozy punch, that needed kick of espresso, to balance out the sugariness. Overall? It’s a solid effort, and I’m satisfied, but not wowed.