A tour of foodie Wellington with a foodie
There's no dispute that Wellington is a damn fine foodie capital.
Quirky, sophisticated, authentic - the capital's eateries satisfy all those niche words that get thrown around in culinary circles.
As well as all the guidebooks and online reviews, one vital ingredient needed when sampling a city's culture - local knowledge.
Enter Joshua - one of the new hosts participating in the New Zealand's Airbnb Experiences. A Maitre'D in a local restaurant, student, and a self-confessed foodie, he has decided to lend out his knowledge on "Experiences" - activities which are designed and led by locals.
* Review: Noble Rot wine bar, Wellington
* Restaurant review: Charley Noble adds special dishes for winter
* Airbnb Trips: Is it better than Lonely Planet?
* What to do on a weekend away in Wellington
Airbnb started to roll out its "Experiences" around the world in 2016. It now offers more than 20,000 activities in 800 cities globally. After testing the New Zealand waters with Queenstown last year, the web service is starting a big push in other cities and towns here - hence Joshua's "Cuba Street Culinary Tour".
Meeting in Joshua's CBD flat (not an Airbnb let by the way), he explains that the Culinary Tour is a hobby that he is keen to turn into a bit of a money-spinner. After a quick glass of Russian Jack pinot noir from down-the-road Martinborough, it was off into the crisp Wellington night for our first stop - Noble Rot.
The wine bar on Swan Lane is dark and inviting, and we are seated straight away. The way the tour goes is that Joshua has selected the best of the à la carte menu. You can choose something else though, say if you have any food intolerances or don't fancy some chicken liver parfait (which you should definitely try at Noble Rot). My partner and I trusted Joshua, and he didn't disappoint with his three entrée choices.
Then it was off to second stop Olive, just round the corner on Cuba Street. I'd eaten here before for breakfast but never for dinner, and the institution didn't disappoint - the roast lamb rump a highlight.
Timing is everything, and something that Joshua admits is a bit tricky when negotiating with different restaurants. The weekend we were out was the Wellington On A Plate food festival, so many venues were packed. There was a bit of a delay before finally getting seated at Five Boroughs (further down Cuba Street) - however, the straightforward nature of Joshua meant the conversation never fell into an awkward silence of a date night.
Five Boroughs is more of a gourmet, American-diner style eaterie. It's more relaxed approach was a perfect end to a four-hour tour of the "quirky to fancy" food Joshua promised on his "Experience".
Cuba Street Culinary Tour - $109 per person, restaurants may vary. The writer was hosted by Airbnb.