And all quite different.
Found upstairs above Tommy Millions at the Press Hall in Willis Street, with a pleasant balcony to watch the world go by (albiet more peacefully in the weekends and at night!), Amador has a nice cruisy vibe.
With stalwarts Andy Gray of Hanging Ditch and Gordie Carlyle from the former Motel cocktail bar in charge, there’s an expectation of quality in both service and food. And it didn’t disappoint on our first visit.
To be fair we were using the WellingtonNZ advent calendar voucher for Laurent Perrier Rose bubbles and tasting board each (combined into one board below), so didn’t need to test their expertise for wine suggestions. But the service was prompt and personable, so I have no doubt they’d be happy to make recommendations when needed.
The menu is very simple – daytime focus on bagels, and by night a couple of meats, cheeses and oysters. Yay for not overtaxing the brain!
There are a good number of wines by the glass, ranging from NZ classics like Craggy Range Te Muna Sauvignon Blanc through to European Destination of Origin certified wines.
The name Amador is a type of font, a further nod to the Dominion Post Press Hall heritage, and presently open 7.30am to 11pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 10pm Saturdays.
Ascot is at the other end of the scale – minimalist, rustic and low brow. A place for an unadorned natural wine and hotdog.
On the rooftop above 1154 on the corner of Cuba and Ghuznee, Ascot is found by climbing the stairs off Ghuznee (past Nightflower, another new cocktail bar halfway up).
I entirely failed to get a picture of my friend’s organic and cloudy-looking (unfiltered) wine because I was so focussed on the fabulous carrotdog in front of me, but can tell you it had a slightly sour nose and almost yeasty backnote to the taste. At one point we wondered if she’d actually grabbed a sour beer and was conning us, but no, it was actually a natural wine. Most interesting.
The hotdogs are either pork or a whole carrot gently marinated and cleverly impersonating a standard dog in a bun. And kinda with the texture of meat too. I thoroughly enjoyed my carrot dog with curry sauce (the special of the day), and can see how Ascot fits the Cuba vibe nicely.
Cheap, simple and effective.
Tuesday to Saturday 4pm til late.
Glass in Chews Lane is owned and operated by Jonathan Brookes, former Restaurant Manager of Whitebait, and confirmed kiwi-lad who lived and worked in French restaurants for some time.
Because of that background, Jonathan imports his own French wines (mostly natural), and showcases them alongside quality, and sometimes quite unusual, local wines. He and his staff are extremely knowledgeable about all the wines and can effortlessly match you with a cheeky little number that ticks all your boxes, or give you something to think about if you’re in an experimental mood.
The food is also carefully crafted using local, fresh and seasonal, with delicacy in the execution. There are a couple of smaller tapas-style options and a couple of bigger plates depending on whether you just fancy a small bite with your wine after work/before a show/after a show, or more substance because you’re parked there for the duration.
I might have visited a few times since I live very nearby, but can attest to the consistency of the service and quality over those visits.
Roast duck breast with burnt purple cabbage and turnips anyone?
Brekkie to dins/supper Monday to Friday 7am to late, and Saturday 10am til late.