Ti Kouka believes that local, seasonal produce is best, and based on the magic they create with it, I can't help but agree. They compost their food scraps, and recycle everything they can. You can almost taste the ethics. Amazing Wellington-quality coffee is sourced from Red Rabbit Coffee Co, a stones-throw away in Leeds St. It's not surprising to discover that Ti Kouka co-founders, brothers Jesse Simpson and Sheperd (Shep) Elliott, are behind the thriving Leeds Street Bakery, which is right next door to Red Rabbit Coffee Co. What is it with Wellington and dynamic brother duos?
At the top of a set of stairs that are easy to accidentally walk past three times on busy Willis St, Ti Kouka serves breakfast and lunch during the week, and brunch on Saturdays. The lunch menu is extremely broad and offers something for everyone, with platters designed either for one or to share, or larger mains if you're a bit hungrier. Nestled amongst tasty sounding seasonal salads ($18) and Boom Rock Lamb with hand-rolled mini noodles, shiitake mushrooms and black garlic ($26) are some unassuming-sounding burgers. In 2013 Ti Kouka won the Burger Wellington award, and boy oh boy can I see why. Even for the most carnivorous among us, Ti Kouka's Halloumi Burger, with iceberg lettuce, mayo, tomato chutney, gherkin and smoked beetroot relish ($17) could make you turn vegetarian. The Sticky Beef Burger with braised beef brisket, red cabbage, BBQ sauce and beetroot puree ($18) is equally sensational. I'll be back to try the organic scrambled eggs with Mexican chorizo ($16).
There's something reassuring about dining in a café where the founders and owners are working, and appear to be enjoying themselves. While the décor is unassuming, Ti Kouka is a Wellington destination to be extremely proud of, and frequented often. Also a handy resting place when trotting between shopping on Cuba St and Lambton Quay.