Besides the illustrious Trax Bar or the highly rated Waterloo Bar and Grill, the railway station end of town has always been somewhat lacking in decent spots for an after work beverage. Thankfully, the magnates of the Wellington Hospitality Group have stepped up to the plate, opening up a colourful new joint in an otherwise dull part of town.
Located at the base of the swanky new PwC building on the waterfront, Flamingo Joe's serves up Pacific-inspired dishes, jazzy cocktails and beaut harbour views. Not only is it is well-suited to the suits from PwC, it's sure to become a go-to for the commuter crowd given its close proximity to the train station.
Flamingo Joe's is bright and flamboyant. Decked out with palm trees and flamingos (obvs), its Hawaiian/tiki bar vibe echoes that of Courtenay Place hot spot, Lulu. The spacious layout includes a bar as well as a dining area, so whether you're in for a work-day lunch or an evening tipple, you're covered.
With a focus on seafood and a nod to Hawaiian cuisine, there's a tasty mix of light bites and more substantial dishes up for grabs. Populated with interesting items like a blow-torched tuna poke bowl and a soft shell crab burger, the menu certainly looks promising.
On my visit, I couldn't go past the haloumi fries as a starter. These chunky slabs of battered cheese with a yoghurt dip were a definite highlight. We also tried the fried pickles, which were tasty enough but quite stodgy. While a tad on the heavy side, these snacks are perfect Friday night drinks fodder.
Next up I opted for the "Philly" cheesesteak dragon bowl, which in essence was a deconstructed, healthier version of a cheesesteak sandwich. I should have guessed from the confusing name and the quote marks that this would be a let down. The dish was bland and had none of the gooey, cheesy goodness of your classic Philly cheesesteak. Instead I was treated to dry kale, next to no cheese and only a few pieces of gristly, unseasoned steak.
My pal got the quinoa and beetroot burger, a hearty burger with a pink bun and a generous side of chips. The patty was crunchy and flavoursome, and the pumpkin crisps were a nice touch. However, the smashed avo was missing (with no explanation). Overall it was just a little underwhelming for its $24 price tag.
As for the drinks, the offering is decent, with a solid range of New Zealand wines available. You can buy small or large glasses or go for a full bottle. Fortune Favours is the house beer and the usual imported brews are also on offer. If you want to shake things up, opt for a cocktail with a fun name like Pretty Fly for Mai Tai or Popcorn Leghorn.
For a fairly quiet Wednesday night, the service was rather ho-hum. Our request for hot sauce was forgotten and had to be chased up. My dining partner also noted that the staff seemed to be avoiding eye contact with us; a sure sign of subpar service. Their lack of attention was disappointing and I do hope they were just having an off night.
Despite a few niggles, Flamingo Joe's dishes out plenty of fun and is the ideal spot for after work bevvies and bites with your colleagues. If you feel like painting the town red (or pink in this case), Flamingo Joe's is a great place to kick off your night.