On a dreary wet Saturday, Miramar's bright and breezy Cafe Polo is buzzing.
Just a spear's throw away from Peter Jackson's Weta Cave, the thriving eatery has earned a loyal following from locals and the movie-making fraternity.
As we enter, we are greeted and led to a spare table by a friendly waitress, who gives its surface a quick buff.
Despite the weather, the cafe is packed.
Cafe Polo is a crisp little place.
It is named after Miramar Polo Grounds in Para St, where polo matches were played in the late 1800s.
Valentina Dias took over the former Edwards Jones Cafe back in 2006 and was joined by chef/owner David Thurlow a year later.
Co-owner Josh Pointon joined the team in 2009.
The cafe's white walls are adorned with local art.
The counter is laden with pickles, jams and quinces made on site.
Homemade jam donuts, slices, yo-yos and afghans tempt anyone in need of a sugar fix.
We both order flat whites, which arrive quickly and are top notch.
Another waitress appears, as friendly as the first. We end up being served by a rotating cast of three waitresses, all attentive and helpful.
The day menu looks enticing. However, we both order from a giant blackboard.
It is festooned with classic bistro meal options, complete with suggested wine matches.
I choose the penne pasta with braised beef cheek, mushrooms and parmesan cheese ($19.50).
My companion opts for pan- fried gurnard, rosemary roasted potatoes, steamed greens and salsa verda ($21.50).
Our wines turn up well before our meals.
I'm not able to resist temptation, and almost guzzle mine before our plates arrive.
My beef pasta looks great, steaming hot on a cold day. The soft rich meat falls apart at the touch. It is slow-cooked to perfection.
My companion's fish dish is pronounced delicious, with a delicate buttery taste. Her broccoli is a touch overdone, however.
A quick visit to the shared bathroom reveals an interesting feature - a toilet seat designed to always go down.
A truce in the household battle of the sexes, perhaps?
Almost sated after our meals, we bravely manage to find the stamina to sample some sweet treats.
I choose a yo-yo, which proves to be one of the best I have ever eaten.
It's soft, not too dry and melts in my mouth.
We also demolish a donut, which is also delicious, dusted with sugar and topped with jam.
Four coffees, two lunch meals, with two wines and sweet treats cost $90.
Cafe Polo is open for breakfast and lunch from 8am Tuesday till Saturday, and dinner four nights a week (Wednesday till Saturday).
- The Wellingtonian