[Wellington] Southern Cross Garden Bar Restaurant: Abel Smith Street

I can’t believe it’s already February! I know everyone else says it, but it really did feel like January just whooshed past us so quickly. A friend of ours will be leaving for a 2-week trip to Mexico mid-February as part of her company’s recognition program and we had a little dinner to celebrate her success. We headed to Southern Cross Garden Bar, which wasn’t too far away from where we all lived. The inside of the place was absolutely gorgeous; so spacious and way bigger than what it looked like from the outside.

pork belly bites
Pork Belly Bites

cauliflower and chicken
Cauliflower Nibbles (left) and Chicken Nibbles (right)

Small Plates. Our dinner began with this assortment of starters which came highly recommended to us: Pork Belly Bites (NZ$16.00), Sticky Sesame Cauliflower Nibbles (NZ$12.00), and Crispy Chicken Nibbles (NZ$14.00). The cauliflower and the chicken had the same sticky, sweet sauce coating them. They were pretty good, although the chicken was more popular in our group. I took the leftover cauliflower ones home and reheated them the next day, and they still tasted fantastic.

cross burger
Cross Burger
halloumi burger
Halloumi Burger

Burgers. Our friends loved the two types of burgers they chose off the menu. The Cross Burger (NZ$23.00) was perfect for our friend who’s into beef and bacon. I was more interested in the Halloumi Burger (NZ$21.00), which had portobello mushroom, chili jam and aioli. I’m definitely trying that one out next!

porterhouse
Porterhouse Steak
buddha bowl with prawns
Buddha Bowl

Other Mains.  The Premium Porterhouse Steak (NZ$30.00) wasn’t the prettiest one on the table that night, but those who ordered it (hint: one of them was S) enjoyed it immensely. Each piece of meat was cooked according to how they liked it, and the dark mushroom sauce gave it that extra boost. We all agreed that the fries which came with the steak and the burgers were an absolute gem because they weren’t bland. It’s something we’d love to order again and again.

I had a hard time choosing what to have that night, but in the end I went with the Buddha Bowl with Wild Prawns (NZ$25.00). The wild rice pilaf with cranberries and the spiced carrots were two of my favorite components. The prawns themselves weren’t anything special, and really wasn’t worth the extra $8 from the plain Buddha bowl. The almond dressing, on the other hand, was lovely especially with the toasted chickpeas since those are quite dry.

summer breeze

Drinks. None of us were up for alcohol that evening, but we did try the Summer Breeze (NZ$7.50), a mix of pineapple, apple, orange and lime.

We spent a good chunk of our evening eating and chatting at Southern Cross. Most of the things we tried were pretty good and we all enjoyed the atmosphere of the place. Despite it being packed and us having a table near the bar, we were all still able to have a fun evening without having to shout. We made the right decision in celebrating a happy event at this very chill place.

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