Martin Bosley’s former restaurant based in the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club building has one of the best locations in the city. It’s reincarnation by the Williams Pub Company in the form of bar and eatery Coene’s Provisions absolutely utilises this prime spot, with a tastefully rustic interior and abundant glass allowing the natural beauty on its doorstep to permeate each and every dining experience.
The historic nature of the site is also noted. Large photos on the walls depict the area's past, an orange line through the restaurant showing the starting line for yacht races, and the name of the restaurant itself is an homage to Commander Edgar J Coene who was Head of the United States Marines Pacific Fleet when they were based in the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club during World War II.
The service in the new restaurant is impeccable. Friendly faces greet punters as they enter the restaurant, and although dinner reservations cannot be made at this point, there were no issues in finding a seat and being made to feel comfortable and welcome. Throughout the evening the chatty and charming staff checked regularly on diners and were a pleasure to be served by.
The menu is not vast, but it is varied. Coene’s executive chef, Wil Crutchley, arrived from New York only recently, where he worked for Michelin-starred restaurants. His menu places its focus on shared eating, and thus the menu mostly consists of ‘sharers’ made to be ordered and split between dinner attendees.
The stuffed eggplant with couscous, rice, lentils, pine nuts and herbed yoghurt ($12) was beautiful, combining a plethora of different flavours and textures to create a well-rounded plate. The prawn bucket with curry mayo and cocktail sauce ($15) was perfectly cooked, and a fresh, light bite of seafood. Both of these smaller sharers were wonderfully presented, on mismatched, quirky crockery, and came out quickly after they had been ordered. The larger sharer, the blue warehau with a citrus ginger breadcrumb crust ($25) was less impressive, being a little bit too dry. However, the crust was exquisitely flavoursome.
The drinks list was very, very extensive, but then the actual drinks were very prudently sized. However they too were quickly served, and the Going Southside cocktail ($16) was utterly delightful. A light, sweet, perfectly balanced beverage, perfectly enjoyed in the seaside setting of the restaurant.
For those of you who like to eat your meals overlooking stunning ocean views, perched about bobbing vessels and watching seabirds swirling in the sea breeze (i.e. everyone) the recently opened Coene’s Provisions on Wellington’s waterfront is your port of call.