Review: Nikau Cafe, Wellington City Art Gallery

Chickpea fries at Nikau Cafe, Wellington
Britt Mann

Chickpea fries at Nikau Cafe, Wellington

A taste of… Nikau Cafe, Civic Square, 101 Wakefield St

We'd heard… The cafe attached to Wellington Art Gallery was a favourite haunt of Wellington's movers and shakers. 

We started with... What the best Saturdays start with: a Bloody Mary - savoury and refreshing, and uncomplicated by the presence of a celery stick, it was slurped down in no time. Then came the chickpea fries ($11.50). These were reminiscent of polenta fries, crisp on the outside, but even more velvety-smooth on the inside - ingenious. The fries were sprinkled with a black olive and rosemary salsa - big flavours that worked perfectly together. 

We also ordered duck rillettes toast ($16.50). The spread - a kind of pate made of confit duck that's been mashed up with its own fat - was delicately seasoned and decadent, without even a whiff of game. Topped off with peppery, crunchy watercress, and sliced picked green beans, it was something a bit different for brunch and like, the fries, a must-try. 

We had high expectations for Nikau's kedgeree ($23.50) - the Indian-British risotto-like dish made with creamy, curry-spiced rice, smoked fish and boiled eggs. Plenty of fellow diners were tucking into the sunshine-coloured dish, and soon we understood why. The salty fish and creamy rice were balanced with plenty of flat-leaf parsley and a squeeze of lemon, and as much cracked black pepper as we liked. Long may kedgeree stay on Nikau's menu. 

The service was… So friendly and genuine - we were impressed to be offered the kedgeree served on two dishes so we could share, without us having to ask.  

The vibe was... Relaxing - it's a small space but it doesn't feel cramped.

If you go… Visit on a rainy day - you're more likely to nab a table. 

Try to avoid… Forgetting to check out the cabinet food - there are an awful lot of good-looking treats in there. 

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Rating out of 5: 5

 - Stuff

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