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New Zealand Home & Building, October-November 1998

streets ahead — Wellington's revamped Cuba Street is the hip spot to shop, browse and eat

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streets ahead
Wellington's revamped Cuba Street is the hip spot to shop, browse and eat.

Cuba Street is the place to go for a taste of old Wellington and a slice of the new. It boasts more Edwardian and late Victorian buildings than any other street in the Capital, one of New Zealand's first pedestrian malls and an eclectic mix of alternative and mainstream shops. A recent $1.3 million revamp has improved the street's lower reaches but not diminished its character and laid-back charm. The colourful bucket fountain - designed in 1969 at the same time as the mall - is delighting a new generation of children and dogs, while shoppers and diners discover new haunts and savour old favourites. Here's a taste of what's on offer.

Gloria Daniel The colourful array of furniture and objects that fill this old butcher shop will appeal to anyone with a bent for the 50s, 60s and 70s, but don't be surprised to find older gems among the plastic, steel and glass. The mix includes an 1890s globe, Victorian dress model, black leather Le Corbusier chaise longue, limited edition pop art prints by British artist Peter Marsh and a twisted wrought iron coat stand with colourful wooden balls on top. Owner Gloria Daniel, who grew up and worked in the antique mecca of London's Portobello Road, is into fun, funky things and customer delight. "I like people to go past the window and have a smile."

Olive Stop for a coffee or something to eat and enjoy the light, airy surroundings or courtyard this relative newcomer to the Capital's café scene offers. Thai pumpkin soup, fresh grilled sardines with tomatoes, and pumpkin gnocchi with roasted red onions and blue cheese are an indication of the tastes in store, but the menu changes almost daily to utilise the freshest produce. Uncluttered surroundings and regular exhibitions - mostly

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Gloria Daniel and her eponymously named retro store.

Gloria Daniel and her eponymously named retro store.

A newcomer to the Capital's café scene, Olive, was formerly a grocery store.

A newcomer to the Capital's café scene, Olive, was formerly a grocery store.

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photography - help give the café an ordered, modern feel but Karen Krogh and Julie Hansen have also managed to retain the original character. The old shop front, the high ceiling and the match-lined walls are all testimony to years of use as a grocery shop.

Janne Land Gallery It's up a few stairs, but anyone interested in contemporary New Zealand art will want to check out Janne Land's gallery, two floors up from Olive. She's been a Wellington dealer for 21 years and likes the turn-of-the-century building's interior dimensions and light. Ralph Hotere, Para Matchitt, Philippa Blair, Michael Smither, Peter Gibson Smith and Brent Wong are among the more established artists who regularly exhibit there, but the gallery also shows works by promising, younger artists.

Trash Palace Second-hand heaven for anyone into formica, Kiwiana, cane or plastic, Simon Manchester's shop treads the fine line between kitsch and collectable. It specialises in 50s, 60s and 70s retro and is the perfect place to check out if you are looking for a 1964 pink Frigidaire or a Charles McPhee velvet painting. There's also ceramics from as far afield as Italy and Japan, brand new Swiss Baaz watches that have been in storage since the 1960s and a good collection of shell lamps.

The Orange Dining Room With a brick Edwardian bake-house as the location for their restaurant, Ming Poon and Diane Langman regularly get people coming in looking for bread. While their regularly changing menu includes bread made on the premises, the place is no bakery. Ming once worked as pastry chef at the famous Hong Kong Peninsula Hotel's Felix Restaurant and now spe-page 187cialises in innovative dishes that fuse together the best of Asian and European cuisine. Creations like Japanese crispy skin salmon fillet with sautéed julienne of vegetables and scallop and white wine butter tantalise the tastebuds.

Peter McLeavey Gallery Veteran art dealer Peter McLeavey has had more than 360 exhibitions since he set up in Cuba Street 30 years ago. The gallery made its name exhibiting artists like Colin McCahon and Sir Toss Woollaston and continues to deal in contemporary New Zealand art - paintings, works on paper, sculpture and photography - including works by Richard Killeen, WD Hammond, Peter Robinson, Simon Endres and Laurence Aberhart. Built at the turn of the century as the reception room for a photographic studio, the gallery has "beautiful, flattering light", a wonderful pressed-metal ceiling and stained glass windows.

The Matterhorn Open until 3am seven days a week, the Matterhorn has transformed from a largely original but somewhat rundown 1960s coffee lounge into a popular late night haunt. The name, a mural of the Swiss peak, some furnishings and fixtures, and the courtyard remain, but new owners Leon Surynt and Tim Ward have given the place new style. A bar-come-café with a Cuba Street feel, it offers a good wine list and an intriguing range of tapas-style dishes, like parmesan-encrusted artichoke hearts or cocoa spiced chicken with chocolate stuffing and green chillies. It's open from 11am Monday to Saturday (6pm Sundays), has live jazz on Wednesday nights and a diverse DJ-inspired mix of music other nights that includes funk, jazz, reggae and electronic music.

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