Two cocktail bars and a great French restaurant
As I mentioned in my last post, my friend Jane and I went to a wonderful French restaurant called ‘Hippopotamus Bar and Restaurant’ on our second night in Wellington.
But before we went to the restaurant, we stopped off at two bars we had researched on the internet as both sounded fabulous. From our hotel we took a taxi to Havana Bar which is accessible down an alley beside two small, colourful cottages which date back to the late 19th century. One cottage is the restaurant and the other is a bar that serves cocktails and Spanish inspired tapas.
The bar has supported international and local musicians for the past thirteen years and on the night we went, it was extremely busy and we were seated out the back with a large group of boys, who were extremely loud, so after drinking our mineral waters we decided to leave. It seemed as if the boys had been out all day drinking enjoying themselves and that is fine,but this night it was just too noisy for us. But glad we went to see the inside of the bar with its propaganda posters on the walls. A pretty funky place. A definite place to visit if you go to Wellington.
Our next stop, by taxi again as it was raining, was to The Library, a reading room and lounge bar with live music. We walked up quite a few floors to an amazing door to enter the bar. It was very dark inside and there were a series of smaller rooms; the room we were taken to looked just like an old reading room.
Jane and I enjoyed a mocktail; mine a Raspberry Lemonade with real raspberry syrup, fresh lemon juice and sparkling mineral water – absolutely refreshing and Jane ordered the Strawberry Blonde which was made with strawberry syrup and fresh lemon juice topped with ginger beer. And after this we made our way to our restaurant.
What a sight when we arrived; outside there was a huge hippopotamus on the roof and the entry has two extremely large brass head cut-outs and what looked like the cut-out of an Indian head.
The restaurant is actually located upstairs in an art gallery/hotel so fabulous art was displayed in the foyer.
Then up in the lift to the restaurant which was so beautiful!
We sat on these beautiful French provincial chairs (well I think that is the period) and ordered a cocktail whilst we waited for our table.
We were seated at our tables by a lovely French waiter and then served by an Italian waiter. Excellent service throughout the evening with fabulous views across Wellington and the water. Jane absolutely loved her meals. She first ordered the Mon Sashimi which was salmon sashimi; the restaurant’s signature dish followed by the Le boeuf dans la prairie -a medium rare beef fillet on celeriac purée, truffle aioli, mushroom quenelle, white needle mushroom, pickled red onion slivers, watercress and truffle oil caviar.
I didn’t have an entree as with French food I find there is not a lot of vegetarian dishes. Even the accompaniments had either duck fat, gruyere cheese or ricotta mixed within the dish – all things I don’t eat but grateful they are specified in the menu. But my main meal was lovely.
We were served an amuse bouche and as mine had cheese on it, Jane was happy to have them both as they were so small and delicate. Also before our main courses we were served a delicious and tangy sorbet…now that was enjoyable.
I ordered the Jardin printanier which comprised roasted baby roots vegetable in hazelnut oil, mushroom puree with soil, rain and snow. Now I was waiting to see what soil, rain and snow were and when the meal was served, our waiter poured and placed several additions on my meal which he said were to resemble those elements. Nice!!
It was a wonderful night; excellent service, wonderful ambience and Jane loved her meals. As I said mine was tasty but I didn’t really go to this restaurant for the food; it was more for the experience which I enjoyed immensely.