Wellingtonians of all stripes collectively mourned the loss of an icon when Memphis Belle closed for good in early 2019. It hasn't taken long, though, for a new coffee dispensary to take over the spot. Early indications are that Swimsuit is doing a stellar job of filling some big shoes (or should we say, flippers?).
Memphis Belle devotees will step into their erstwhile stomping ground and be greeted with that surreal feeling of the old mixed seamlessly in with the new. Structurally, Swimsuit retains much of its predecessor's bones, from the prominent counter to the alcove by the entrance. Yet there's no denying the place has had more than a complete makeover. The walls are decked in a slick royal blue livery, and smooth, polished wooden surfaces abound, emanating classic Kiwi bach vibes.
It's a small, intimate space, offering a variety of seating arrangements to suit most parties, from the magazine-laden benchtop for solo diners to the smattering of tables outside. There's even a standing table for those wanting to stretch their legs while downing their brew.
A handful of simple cafe bites complements the Peoples coffee on offer, and an order was placed for a BLT toastie ($10) and a mocha ($4.50). In keeping with the easy-going nature of the place, the service is friendly and it didn't take long for a glass of sparkling water to appear. The mocha followed shortly after, accompanied by a chocolate fish.
The toastie was pleasantly sizeable and robust, with the tangy sourdough slices, toasted to perfection, packing some seriously generous fillings. The real star of the show has to be that gooey, beautifully melted cheese, ever so cheekily spilling out the sides. You get a side of relish and, somewhat bizarrely, a bottle of hot sauce as well, like some sort of subtle challenge. Weird flex, but trust us, it's a testament to the quality of the toastie that it goes superbly with either condiment.
We hear Swimsuit's cheese scones are famous too, and more food options are on the way, including vegan baguettes. It's early days, but Swimsuit has well and truly taken over that coveted Courtenay Place spot, and is wasting no time in making its presence felt.