Get dressed up:
- Hippopotamus at the Museum Hotel – French dining amidst opulent art scattered throughout the hotel and views over the harbour. Perfect spot for dinner on Guy Fawkes night. Pretty spectacular desserts. Lunches and dinners 7 days.
Slightly more bistro but could still get dressed up:
- Whitebait at Clyde Quay – Quality eats from the Whitehouse family, in a more ‘Auckland’ waterfront bistro setting. Mostly seafood and superb desserts. 2015 Cuisine NZ best new restaurant. Dinner Tuesday to Saturday.
- Logan Brown – cnr Cuba and Vivian. Also high quality eats in a beautiful old bank building where the focus is on palate over garnish. Paua ravioli signature dish. Check out the fish tank in the bar. Wednesday to Saturday lunches and Tuesday to Sunday dinners.
- Artisan – in the Bolton Hotel up the sweeping staircase, dignified feeling. 2015 NZ Hospo awarded best dish over $25. Lunches and dinners 7 days.
- Jano Bistro on upper Willis (the old Citron) – A marriage of bistro, gastronomy and alchemy by the French Pierra-Alain Fenoux, 2015 Cuisine NZ runner up best new restaurant, and 2016 Wellington on a Plate winning festival dish. Very smart food with excellent service and ambience. Dinner Tuesday to Sunday.
More casual dress but still fine eats:
- Hillside – cnr of Hill Street and Tinakori Road. Three or four course dinners of very smart food with wine, beer or non-alcoholic matching. Tuesday to Saturday evenings.
- Matterhorn – Cuba Mall near the bucket fountain. Smart a’la’carte dishes (and delicious snacks in the two bars). Casual and sophisticated at the same time. Music late at night. Now also in Auckland. Daily from 3pm.
- Five and Dime – upper Cuba near Abel Smith Street. Very smart tasting plates with interesting components and excellent execution. A small venue, and the secret is now getting well out so do book. Tuesday to Sunday late morning to midnight.
- Shepherd – Leeds Street laneway. Playful and interesting share plates from two of Wellington’s hospo icons. With a variety of seating arrangements (tables, leaners, kitchen counter), you can pop in for a short or long visit. Wednesday to Sunday evenings.
- Tinakori Bistro – Thorndon Village. A chef with much international fine dining and Japanese cooking experience. Don’t be fooled by the suburban bistro style building. Tuesday to Sunday evenings.
Not quite fine dining, but still a classy environment:
- Shed 5 – white table cloths and a slightly formal feel in an old wool store on the waterfront at Queens Wharf (Historic Places Trust category 1). Specialise in seafood with their own fishmonger and filleting room, and have managed their pricing well. Lunches and dinners 7 days.