Tuesday, April 6, 2010

tour of lunch

A few years ago, when I was still living in Wellington, one of my best friends and I found ourselves both working our first 'real' 9-5 jobs just around the corner from eachother. It was a part of town neither of us had spent a lot of time, Lambton Quay filled with suits from about 8am until after 6 and it was difficult to find places to eat when we were both a bit terrified of the sea of grey. We started a little tradition named 'tour of lunch', where once or twice a week we would meet on our lunch break and explore one of the little alleys, pedestrian malls and shopping centres between Lambton Quay and The Terrace, and in the surrounding blocks. The rules were: we had to eat somewhere we hadn't been before and we had to take pictures. It was through tour of lunch that we discovered 'Gallery Dellery', and a number of funny little cafeterias specialising in shepherds pie and chicken soup. The same friend now lives in Melbourne, and we have discussed a new tour of lunch, or brunch, which may well happen in the future. In the meantime, here's a wee tour of my current work-day lunches.

The big street in the middle is Smith Street, I forgot to write that on there.
I tend to favour bringing my own lunch over buying it, for reasons including the cost and the general assumption that I will eat better if I bring left-overs or a salad, however I realised recently that most of the lunches I do buy are fresh, healthy, and really cheap. I'm quite chuffed about this.

$5 and under
1 snacks from Sonsa
This is kind of a cop-out when we're talking about 'buying lunch' but if I'm really poor, or stuck on places to go, Sonsa Imports is the easy option. You can get a punnet of delicious homemade hummus and some carrots and cellery for just a few dollars, mini ciabatta loaves for 99c, mixed nuts for about a dollar per (big) scoop, and fresh juices for $2.50. I am obsessed with this place and would totally recommend for anyone who lives in the area to head there before Woolworths up the road. It's cheaper, the produce is often fresher (though will have more imperfections than the big chains), and the guys who run it are friendly and hilarious. They gave me a fig last time I was there, for no apparent reason, and my groceries usually total to 'hmm, twenty dollars' after some random mental addition.
2 2 x sushi rolls from Wabi Sabi
Definitely the best and most interesting sushi rolls up this end of Smith Street. Personal favourites include the spicy tempei salad, 'crumble whiting', and tempura prawn and avocado. $2.50 per roll, plus an extra dollar for miso soup. The music on their website has been entertaining me while I write this.

3 salad from Mezzina
There's usually about 5 to choose from in the salad bar and they're all super fresh and flavoursome (spiced cauliflower, lentil and roast vege, etc). $5 for a 'small' (they cram it in), $1 extra if any of your choices have meat or fish.
4 lunch box from The Social Studio
The Social Studio is a community enterprise engaging young unemployed refugees and migrants and teaching them sewing and fashion design skills. They have a little cafe right down the back of their shop/workroom that serves simple, yummy toasted sandwiches, salads, and traditional African dishes. The lunch box is $8 and comes all ready to take away. It's something different every day, usually something like zucchini fritters and salad, egg noodles and omelette, felafels, or Sambusa, and comes with your choice of fruit or chocolate cake.

Over $10
mackerel salad from Rosamond
I'd never tried mackerel before I tried this salad. Rosamond is one of my favourite morning coffee (and sometimes yummy walnut and apple muffin) spots, and over Summer I was pretty obsessed with their caprese salad. The mackerel salad doesn't have a lettuce/leaf base, it's basically a whole lot of herbs, cucumber chunks, capers, cherry tomatoes and mackerel, and it's delicousssss. Both salads cost about $13, but are filling and worth it. They also have really nice baguettes and sandwiches which are around the $10 mark.
6 crushed avocado on toast from Proud Mary
Proud Mary is on the same street as my work, they're crazy coffee fanatics and have a pretty impressive set-up if you're into that sort of thing and their coffee cups are a pretty shade of blue. This lunch is $13.50 and also has fetta and rocket all over it, it's more than I would usually pay, especially when I could basically get the ingredients from Sonsa and make my own, but it's so close to work, sometimes I'm willing to spend more in the name of laziness.

Others that haven't quite made it, because they're just a little further than I want to go on my lunch break
7 Trippy Taco - vegetarian mexican (vegan options too), the trippy fries are amazing
8 Fatto a Mano - organic italian bakery, delicious pizza slices, pies, and calzone-ish things
9 Cavallero - a cafe full of kiwis, and excellent coffee, try the chicken toasted sandwich
10 Soul food - more vegetarian meals, my favourite is the burrito but they're all good, and huge portions

Photos from here, here, here, and here. I drew that awesome and complex map myself.

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