It’s the time of year when all we want to do is snuggle into a comfortable chair, eat satisfying food and be cosseted by our surroundings. This extends to dining out, so in anticipation we’ve rounded up the cosiest eateries in town that will make you forget about the outside world — at least for a few hours.
With its warming fireplace, textural finishes and tempting Mediterranean fare, Remuera’s beloved Siso invites diners to unbundle from the cold and settle in. Open for lunch and dinner, Siso’s relaxed yet polished approach to dining makes it a neighbourhood eatery worth crossing town for.
Ponsonby Road Bistro
Always consistent, and consistently cosy, Ponsonby Road Bistro is our go-to when a relaxed yet luxurious meal feels like the only remedy for the cold. There’s no time better spent than an afternoon or evening tucked into one of its cushy seats with a wine in hand. We’ll have the confit duck, thanks.
The Lodge Bar & Dining
With hide-covered chairs and blankets galore, Rodd & Gunn’s The Lodge Bar is a warming oasis waiting for you in Commercial Bay. Quite apart from the decor, The Lodge Bar & Dining’s produce-driven menu is a revelation, thanks to the onsite Josper charcoal oven which imbues dishes with a delicious depth of flavour.
Apéro Food & Wine
Walking into Karangahape Rd wine bar and eatery Apéro, you’ll instantly feel cocooned in the warmth of the long, brick-walled room. With a menu of simple yet expertly-executed dishes and a comprehensive wine list, it is the ideal spot to while away an hour or three on a cold winter’s night.
As soon as this Britomart newbie opened its doors, we knew the subterranean spot would become a go-to over the cooler months. Located underneath Cafe Hanoi (in the former 1885 Basement), the 82-seat space is totally enveloping, inviting you to leave dreary skies behind in favour of bold Chinese flavours, bustling service and a convivial atmosphere.
Italian-inspired bistro Ortolana turns on the charm for every one of its patrons, helped along by its cheery space. Sit beneath the distinctive twinkling Monmouth glass lights and dig in to one of the satiating pastas or locally-sourced meat dishes.
Should you arrive when the timing is right, Prego has all the makings of a cosy restaurant experience. This Ponsonby Road stalwart has a rich history, with the many who patiently wait for a table a testament to its popularity. With heaters outside and a cosy, bustling vibe to perfectly complement the big bowls of comforting pasta, Prego is one place we will happily spend our winter nights.
When in doubt about dinner plans, Azabu never fails to deliver. An excellent option any time of year, the dark interior and banquette seating proves to be particularly enticing come wintertime. Order the prawn tempura volcano roll and watch the flames flicker as it’s blowtorched until toasty — a tableside flourish that we simply cannot pass up.
Something about stepping down the stairs into Cassia’s inviting space has us feeling instantly cocooned. Sid Sahrawat‘s acclaimed menu takes diners on a masterful journey of modern Indian cuisine; from its flavourful, delicate snacks to its soul-stirring curries, it’s always a winner.
The Engine Room
We always feel at home at Northcote Point establishment The Engine Room, thanks to its familiar, hospitable interior that’s as welcoming as its staff and as enticing as its crowd-pleasing dishes. The twice-baked goat’s cheese soufflé is an icon in its own right, and the steak frites goes down a treat every time.