New Wellington wine bar, The Puffin, ostensibly has minimalism at its core. That may be true of its food and drink, but one glance at its lavishly classy interior and you'd be forgiven for assuming otherwise.
Tucked well away from the noise of Ghuznee Street down a long, dark hallway, The Puffin feels like an exclusive club. Operated by Sean Golding (Golding's Free Dive, Shepherd) and business partner Hannah Wells, it will eventually serve as the ground floor of new boutique hotel, The Intrepid. We ventured here on a drizzly August evening and having dried ourselves off once inside, felt we were a world away from Wellington. The rough brick walls and exposed pillars offer a sharp contrast to the plush green booths, with the globe lights providing a dim but welcoming ambience.
Simply put, if you're after a secluded spot for an intimate date, we may have just found the place.
Having perched ourselves inside a wine bar, we simply couldn't forgo the drinks menu and it didn't take long for one of us to settle down with a negroni ($13), which came garnished with orange peel and hit the right notes. The Puffin also offers a selection of small sharing plates, which we were more than willing to investigate.
First up was the mortadella sandwich ($16), which resembled a small burger. It packed a bit of grease but we found it surprisingly hearty and approachable, with the mortadella, cheese and pesto combining really well to provide a counterpoint to some of the more tart beverages on offer.
The broccolini ($12) proved to be a real treat as well, with the minute slices of pickled chilli offering a superb contrast to the tahini dressing and greens. A delightful snack to go with your wine, but given the price point, the serving could have been bigger.
For a more traditional barside option, we also ordered the coppa platter ($12), which came accompanied with pickled vegetables and crackers. As expected, the saltiness of the coppa turned out to be an excellent wine pairing and played off the richness of the mortadella and broccolini well.
With a dazzling array of wine, cocktails and other beverages, coupled with one of the classiest new venues in Wellington, The Puffin is a perfect place to wind down after hours with a drink and some nibbles to graze on.
Images: Lesley Wild.
57 Ghuznee Street, Wellington