Beloved Bowling Club Pop-Up Damascus Has Just Opened a Brick and Mortar Eatery in Wellington's CBD

A fresh new fit-out but the same delicious Middle Eastern food locals know and love.
Sarah Templeton
September 23, 2022

After years of being a successful food truck and beloved bowling club pop-up, Middle Eastern eatery Damascus has just opened its first cityside restaurant.

Husband and wife duo Hasan Alwarhani and Flora Quintana have served up authentic Syrian food since they moved to Wellington, serving up delicious dishes out of a successful food truck for their first four years. They then found a slightly quirky permanent home: the Vogelmorn Bowling Club in the hills of Brooklyn, Wellington. It was there in the comfy seventies-era surroundings diners fell in love with their flavourful share plates like falafel, hummus and other mezze dishes.

This week the pair have opened their first official brick-and-mortar eatery cityside on Tory Street, making it a short walk for those in Te Aro.

The new restaurant has a fresh fit-out but is still offering the same delicious Middle Eastern-inspired food locals know and love, with everything homemade from scratch additive-free, GM-free and made to a supremely high standard. Even their tahini is made from scratch, with Hasan telling WellingtonNZ he estimates they go through about 25-50kg of sesame seeds each month.

But it definitely is a shinier version in many respects, thanks to the architect Sam Donald designing the space according to Hasan and Flora's choice of colours, lights and furnishings.

"We have had some customised things made for us - like the reception desk for the front from Todd from Fox and Table, and our wall art made from designer Wallace Gollan," says Hasan.

"We also have a customised homemade charcoal grill just for us from our friend Agustin Gonzales. This allows us to do everything on the grill, fresh."

They're still waiting on their alcohol licence, but in the meantime, diners can sip on some house-made Middle Easter-inspired mocktails, as well as lemonade, ginger beer and juices from HardieBoys.

If you're heading in with a group above 10, opt for the set menu for $65 pp. If you're ordering a la carte, opt for a wide selection of sharing dishes, including falafels, tabbouleh salad, lamb shish off the grill — and the must-try mutabel: a creamy dip of smoky chargrilled eggplant.

Damasus is open now at 4/100 Tory Street, Te Aro, Wellington from Wednesday — Saturday. It's open for lunch from 11am - 2pm and for dinner from 5pm - 9pm.

Published on September 23, 2022 by Sarah Templeton
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