We visited Ambeli for dinner recently on a weekend visit to Wellington. It is located just around the corner from the Embassy Cinema (of Hobbit fame) in what looks like an old shop front. The layout and interior are cosy but not at all pretentious. We were shown to a window table which allowed us to watch the passersby and the wait staff were attentive and helpful in discussing the menu and specials.
The menu presents an interesting and clever take on some of the classic ingredients of bistro food. There is an emphasis on the matching of offal with main cuts and each dish was presented with an inspired selection of tastes and textures. This may put some potential customers off but be assured that the use of offal is subtle and very well done. This was food which was a little less "hyper-constructed" than some at the fine dining end of the spectrum, but it was thoroughly deserving of the reputation Ambeli has developed. The concierge at our hotel asked if we had arrangements for dinner and when we said that we had booked here she was effusive, saying that Ambeli was her favourite restaurant in Wellington at the moment. We could see why.
The wine list is not huge but it is very well balanced between old and new world wines and presented a range of prices which would allow most to choose a good match for the food. It is a pity perhaps that more wines were not available by the glass.
Ambeli is noted as one of the top 10 restaurants in the city in most review sources and we would concur with that view after having been there.
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