Any port in a storm
The long-awaited Port Café at Chaffers Dock finally opened yesterday, and I had a chance to pop in for lunch today. I nearly had a heart attack, but not from the grease: the mains were mostly over $20, which was not what I was expecting from a casual café and takeaway! It turns out that there's a separate takeaway menu, with fillets for around a tenner and "family feasts" starting at $29.95 for 6 fish & chips, which sounds like much better value, and a rather good fishburger & chips for $14.90.
One should remember that this is a "gourmet seafood restaurant" rather than the corner chippie, and certainly the crumbed fillets and beer-battered chips are a step or two above the takeaway norm. There's also a counter with a rather glorious array of brightly-coloured fresh salmon, tuna and the like, all of which is reminiscent of the Wellington Trawling Company in Cuba St and gives it something of a "fish market" feeling. They also have a BYO license (though I'm not 100% sure whether that's active yet), making this a reasonable choice for a (relatively) cheap & cheerful dinner.
Combining "gourmet seafood" and takeaways is a tricky balancing act, and I'm not sure they've quite pulled it off. There are a few attempts to make the décor interesting, but the indoor chairs look like they've been grabbed from a clearance sale at Warehouse Stationery, and they really need to do something about the music (Linkin Park, anyone?). Nevertheless, it's great to have another evening dining venue on the waterfront, and it's about time that we had some fish & chips available right next to both the marina and Waitangi Park. Plenty of other people seem to think so too: it's only been open for a day, and it's already attracting plenty of custom.