Wellington, the world’s coolest little capital has over 300 cafe, bars and restaurants that’s more places to eat and drink per capita than New York! With over 100 food events (e.g. Wellington on a Plate, Beervana), it truly is a mecca for foodies or travellers who enjoy experiencing a place through its food and beverage scene. Now, I know what you are thinking, with only a limited amount of time visiting Wellington, which cafe, bar or restaurant must I visit? When we pose this question to Jon Salter, owner and experienced tour guide who first lived in Wellington in 1974, even he was hard pressed to select his top picks.
But, the show must go on, so we sat Jon down to get him to reveal his favourites:
Tell us a little about yourself, Jon? And how did you end up in Wellington and starting Food and Spice Odyssey?
I was born in England and brought up in Portugal. At 16 I joined the merchant navy and meet my wife Jocelyn in Wellington. I love food, eating, making, selling, looking – all of it! Even on holidays, my favourite part would be to visit as many cafes, bars, restaurants, delis, unique and artisan food stores as possible on the trip. On a visit to Sydney I was offered a partnership in restaurant but the books were cooked, so I bought a coffee shop which was the start of my adventure in the food odyssey world. On my return to Wellington I still wanted to continue working within the F&B scene and what better way than sharing with people what Wellington has to offer.
How long have you lived in Wellington?
I first came to Wellington when I was in the merchant navy in 1974 and meet Jocelyn then came back in 1975 and got married and lived in Wellington till 1981 when I went to Sydney, had a series of businesses including a cafe, and importing food products from Sweden and ended up with a food service company which I sold in 2014 and came back to Wellington. We also came back to visit Wellington Jocelyn’s family.
What do you love about Wellington?
Being close and able to walk to city. Great variety of cafes, bars and eateries. Friendly people, city not too big or too small. There is a real buzz in this city especially in the areas of art & culture and there is a lot of talent in this city; from the street art to award winning baristas and mixologists
Wellington is the coffee and craft beer capital of NZ, which are your favourite (a) coffee roaster (b)craft beer producer?
The cafe and brunch culture is so vibrant in Wellington, and so many to choose from. Which are your favorites and why?
Poquitos, Caribe Café, Café Lafarre, Havana Cafe You won’t find these cafes on the high street, they are probably tucked away in the laneways and mostly packed with locals – the atmosphere is lively, friendly with exceptionally good food. For an all rounded brunch experience, you cannot go wrong with these.
Photo credit: newzealand.com
If one has never been to Wellington before and only has one dinner opportunity, which restaurant(s) should one try? and for an aperitif afterwards?
Havanna Bar & Restaurant because it has a quirky atmosphere (great for people watching, dancing and often live music) and great food of course. Hanging Ditch afterwards for great cocktails and friendly staff and Poquito Bar which is small and intimate. The Thistle Inn, which is on our food tour, is one of my trade secret, it is New Zealand’s oldest pub (est 1840) and has a comprehensive selection of craft beers, NZ wine with great gastropub grub to match.
Photo credit: poquito bar
One uncommonly known fact about Wellington?
It has the biggest wooden building in the South Hemisphere, the Old Government Building.
Photo credit: newzealand.com