Nestled at the top end of Cuba Street is a quaint little restaurant called Arthur’s. For those not in the know, Arthur’s is the more masculine equivalent of the very feminine Martha’s Pantry (which I wrote a short blog post on about a year – or two ago). I have been to Arthur’s twice since I moved to Wellington and loved my experience there on both occasions. However, even though I keep telling myself to return and have a meal again, I never really got to it – at least not until this evening.
I had a lovely 2-course dinner at Arthur’s with The Snowman. He’s lived in Wellington all his life but have never set foot inside Arthur’s. He told me he’s walked past it about a hundred million times (I exaggerate) but never really thought much of it. He always thought that Arthur’s was a just a really cozy coffee shop that can accommodate a maximum of 3 patrons – so he was quite surprised to find out that it’s an honest-to-goodness restaurant where you sit and have a decent meal in.
Anyway, we arrived promptly at 6:30 pm and were greeted warmly by their staff. We were ushered up to the 1st floor and since the place wasn’t full just yet (6:30 is quite early for dinner, and since it’s a rugby night, every man and his dog were most likely at a pub, watching the rugby match between NZ and Argentina) were given the opportunity to choose where we’d want to sit. I chose a nice round table next to the stairs in the main dining area. I felt that the tables in the parlour room (2nd room in the 1st floor) were too big and overwhelming.
So we sat and settled in while our food attendant (the gentleman giving me the thumbs up in the photo above – I’m so sorry I didn’t get your name, but you were amazing!) gave us the menu (different from what’s on their website, but most likely just as yummy) and explained what was included in our dinner voucher. He then left us to our own devices while we pondered upon what to feast on. I decided to get the beetroot salad with hazelnuts and feta cheese for starters, and the fish of the day for mains (because I don’t have enough veggies and fish in my diet) . The Snowman opted to have the soup of the day (he didn’t ask what it was, just ordered it) and roasted lamb.
The Snowman and I chatted a bit about our day while we waited for our food and admired our surroundings. As mentioned earlier, Arthur’s is the more masculine counterpart of Martha’s. If Martha’s is all pink and white and frilly and girly – Arthur’s is it’s exact opposite. The colour palate revolved around earthy hues (browns, yellows and tan); the walls were decorated with old photos, mounted antlers and a few paintings; the furniture was mostly wood; accessories were earthenware pots, old books and comfortable throws and pillows. The overall feel of the whole place was very warm and homey. Think Sherlock Holmes’ at Baker Street kind of homey (all that’s missing is a violin in the corner).
Due to the size of the place, they only had one toilet for guests and it’s located on the 1st floor. The nautical-themed-unisex toilet is quite spacious and is also very very clean. There’s ample toilet paper and hand towels. I know you don’t normally photograph toilets but it’s just too cute to pass up on.
We didn’t have to wait long to be served. I got my salad, and The Snowman was given his Soup of the Day (he only asked what it was only when the bowl was placed in front of him – he’s adventurous like that). He had a honey roasted carrot and parsnip soup and four slices of (amply buttered) toasted bread. I had a bit of his soup and it was divine. It was creamy without being too rich, and the flavours blended well. You could taste a hint of the main ingredients without one overpowering the other. Sadly, I wasn’t able to get a picture of it.
My salad was absolutely delicious. The greens were fresh and crisp and lightly drizzled with olive oil (not soaking in it), the beetroot were soft enough to bite without being too soggy; and it had a substantial amount of hazelnuts and feta cheese. You can tell they didn’t scrimp on the ingredients.
When we were done, our tables were cleared to make way for our mains. My fish was lightly pan seared and laid on a bed of fresh vegetables and risotto cooked in (what I think was) lemongrass. The fish was firm enough to be speared by a fork without it flaking into small pieces; the veggies were fresh and the risotto was cooked to perfection.
The Snowman loved his roast lamb. It was baked well, with the meat tender enough to be sliced with a table knife. The mashed potatoes were creamy and the vegetables (i saw a broccoli and half a brussel sprout) were steamed and seasoned well. He said the food was flavourful and he was very VERY pleased with the portion sizes. They were big enough to be called meals. They weren’t appetizers masquerading as meals.
After we finished off our respective dishes, we were just so full had to pass up on their delectable desserts. We got 2 cups of coffee though (take away as we needed to walk off all the food we had consumed). They use Supreme Coffee Beans (which means absolutely squat to me, but might be important to coffee connoisseurs) which didn’t impress The Snowman – he prefers Havana – but he did say that his coffee was brewed properly (and that’s a lot coming from a very picky coffee drinker).
IMPECCABLE. The staff we had the pleasure of dealing with were very courteous and polite. They attended to our needs without looking too eager to please; they gave us enough time to think about our orders; asked first before they cleared our table; they were chatty without being intrusive or too friendly; enquired about our food and we felt that they genuinely wanted to know if we were satisfied with our overall dining experience.The gentleman who served us even reassured us that we didn’t have to finish our wines in a hurry and we could relax and just enjoy our meal.
And the Verdict …
We loved the place and we would definitely recommend Arthur’s to anyone and everyone. We couldn’t stop talking about how satisfied we were about practically everything – even after we’ve left the place, and even when we got home. I mean, what’s not to love? The staff were courteous and attentive, the food was tasty and the serving sizes were ample, the prices were very, very reasonable (expect to spend between $35 – $50 per person for 2 courses, a drink and dessert), the restaurant’s overall atmosphere was warm, inviting, and very comfortable. It’s a place where you can dine in your Sunday’s best or your Sunday’s worst and still feel very much at ease. We’re definitely coming back.
If you’re ever in Wellington – make it a point to stop by Arthur’s. You won’t ever regret it.
272 Cuba Street, Wellington | Ph: 04 385 7227