This place is like a home and everyone here is like family. It's five minutes from my Willis St shop so it's in the 'hood I guess.
I always recommend it to customers and when friends come from out of town, I bring them here.
I've known the owners, Potti and Roger, for years, since they started Fidels at the top of Cuba St. The restaurant used to be Havana's coffee roastery before they revamped it as a restaurant.
Potti came into my shop and he bought a few retro light shades to hang above the kitchen area. Two are probably from the 1970s and a couple are art deco. He also bought two 1950s vintage figurine wall hangings from me. That's one there, on the wall, and the other one is on a wall in the bar.
They've done a great job at making it feel quite eclectic. It's aesthetically really pleasing to the eye. I love the colours they've chosen, and it feels authentically Cuban. Even the battered vintage doorway is how it is in Cuba apparently - it's a snapshot of the building facades there.
It's how we live now, a merger of vintage and new things. Potti and Roger have a great sense of style. It's like being in a gallery, isn't it?
I love food and the tapas menu is delicious. It's great to share food with your friends and have a few tastes of things. Today, I'm having the salmon gravalax and asparagus. Asparagus always makes me feel like it's the start of summer. I usually order the haloumi cheese dishes when I come in. Holly, the maitre d' here, is a superstar.
I spent quite a bit of time travelling around the Mediterranean, through Spain and Barcelona, and trying lots of tapas and small portions. I also spent a year living in Cyprus and the haloumi there is absolutely adorable. They sell it in these big blocks. It's delicious cooked.
I like coming to the Havana bar too. Once a month, on the first Thursday or Friday of every month, we have a soiree in our store, Goodscore, in the evening, and often we'll come here for the after-party.
They often have live music, and a couple of my girlfriends, Lisa Tomlins and Vanessa Stracey, are beautiful singers who perform here.
I've just got back from Samoa, where we had a couple of weeks on Savaii. I was with my brother, sister and my mother, who is Samoan, and we stayed in open fales.
It's still quite intrepid travelling over there.
We ate a lot of chicken dishes, and I love the palusami - it's an umu food, where they take baby soft taro leaves and put coconut cream on it, and then cook it in an umu. I really loved the breadfruit too, and we ate a lot of raw fish. The mangos were just coming into season and we ate them every day. The bananas are those small, delicious creamy ones that you just pull off a branch.
I've been living in Wellington for five years, and we've had our shop, Goodscore Retro Room, in Willis St, for two years.
I run it with my sister, Nell, who makes clothes we sell at the shop. I make my jewellery there. This ring I'm wearing is a brooch that I found and turned into a ring. I love taking old pieces and making them new.
AS TOLD TO SARAH CATHERALL
Havana Bar and Restaurant, 32A-34 Wigan St, Wellington
Phone: 04 384 7039
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