The Matterhorn – new bathwater, same baby
When I first moved here, I was lucky enough to make friends with two women, a little older and a lot wiser than me, who seemed to already have Wellington sussed.
Their names were Pagan and Ebony and neither of them were at all as sinister as that pair of names might suggest. To me they epitomised big city chic, and their fondness for the Matterhorn was part of that.
They’d meet after work for a drink, looking effortless in their work-to-evening ensembles. I was still stuck in the uni student phase where ‘having a drink in town’ meant a) I was already drunk from having a head start on cheap stuff at someone’s flat, or b) …um no, it was pretty much always ‘a’.
By latching on to these two and attempting a mimicry of what I considered their utter sophistication, I began to appreciate that a wine list wasn’t just table clutter and that a bar may well have more to offer than just a sticky dancefloor. And it was in the Matterhorn that I refined the truly Wellington skill of not blinking an eye when a celeb enters the room.
Since first opening its doors (at the end of the long corridor) in the 60s, the Matterhorn has passed through several incarnations. Last week they relaunched with a weekend of free live music. Aficionados will be pleased to hear that the atmosphere has changed not a jot. In fact, I was hard pressed to point out what had been reno’ed. This place is eternally cool, with the perfect mixture of right-now retro.
The dining menu and wine list, however, have been completely and most distinctly overhauled. The focus is now on sharing plates, with nearly 30 options to collectively drool over. And the cocktails? They have added 10 new exclusive concoctions.
I was fortunate enough to spend a night out during Visa Wellington On a Plate, working my way through their vegetarian degustation. The meal in its many courses was so diverse that it was an event in itself. I stuck the menu up on our fridge at home the next morning, so that we could remind ourselves of the delectable journey.
It’s brilliant to see that a couple of those dishes have made their way onto the current list of offerings. I recommend that next time you have room for dessert, you order the Thai-style eight textures of chocolate. It won’t be what you expect, but it will be amazing.