Home' The Wellingtonian : August 18th 2011 Contents 22 THE WELLINGTONIAN, AUGUST 18, 2011
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The Ambeli sparks fond memories
By JOSEPH ROMANOS
Ihave a soft spot for The
Ambeli in Marjoribanks St.
I grew up nearby and passed
that part of Mt Victoria every day.
There used to be a butcher, a
stationer and a greengrocer, plus
a dairy that sold truly thick thick-
Since then lower Mt Victoria
has become a haven for diners.
Several quality restaurants offer a
range of ethnic fare.
The Ambeli is possibly the pick
It s been going for more than
five years, having replaced the
Roxburgh St Bistro, and before
that the Roxburgh.
Owner Shae Moleta, whose
family has lived in the area for 60
years, opened the restaurant in
The site had been empty two
years and I d walk past wishing
something could be done. When it
became available, I was so
excited, he said.
Three of us visited last week
and were impressed with the food
( fine Mediterranean dining ), the
service and the ambience -- the
three elements of the three-legged
stool restaurateurs speak of.
The service was attentive and
friendly. I appreciated being
offered the choice of sparkling
water or Wellington s finest fresh
water -- more enticing than tap
The Ambeli caters for about 60
people, including six tables in a
front room upstairs.
We were early and had nearly
finished by the time it began to
really get busy.
I was pleased because while we
were there, there was little back-
ground noise -- only some muted
music. However, as more people
poured in, the noise level rose
The food was excellent, which
tied in with previous assessments
of The Ambeli. The prices were a
little steep for my liking, but at
least the quality was assured.
We went for the cauliflower
soup ($18) and a bread, butters
and oils selection ($12.50) for
starters. The soup drew
For mains we tried vineleaf-
wrapped quail stuffed with porcini
and chorizo ($25, actually an
entree), porcini and ricotta gnoc-
chi ($35) and duck ($38) with
sides of beans ($9.50) and potatoes
The duck was the pick. It was
beautifully cooked and presented,
but the gnocchi was also satisfac-
tory and a lot more filling than it
looked as if it would be when it
was served .
The dessert offerings were well
removed from the standard ice-
cream sundae or mousse. From
the exotic sounding offerings, we
chose the vanilla and buttermilk
panna cotta and the spiced quince
semifreddo (both $16).
Again, they were packaged
attractively, and tasted great. I
could have done with a little more
panna cotta, but maybe that was
The Ambeli has a good wine list
and range of beers -- I enjoyed an
8 Wired Brown ale ($14).
The restaurant scene in
Courtenay Place and its environs
is extremely competitive. To have
thrived for six years, The Ambeli
must be doing a lot right.
The Ambeli is open for lunches
from Tuesday to Friday and din-
ner ever day.
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