A modest backstreet bar delivers mightily on its food and drink.


Apart from improved lighting, new artworks and hanging macramé pot plants, Margot remains substantially unchanged from its previous incarnation as Newtown boho cult bar Mason. But perhaps it doesn’t need to for when you see small tins of fish on their tapas menu and realise the name Margot references London chef Margot Henderson, you know you are at the epicentre of current bohemian fashion. Chef Tom Adam met Juno Miers (front-of-house) when they worked together at The Bresolin and the pair has since married. Their debut restaurant venture follows 16 years of solid graft around many of the other leading Wellington restaurants and bars – which probably explains why Margot’s distinctive style appears to have sprung fully formed from the outset.


Despite some fairly out-there dishes (fried broad bean leaves, anyone?) and a dynamite jalapeño margarita, Margot’s repertoire is corralled within a coherent European framework. The broad bean leaves are crisply deep-fried in a perfectly judged rice flour and tapioca batter. Tender to the bite, they do taste impressively of broad bean, which makes their accompanying anchovy mayo so perfect. Also challenging but equally rewarding is Tom’s own take on a steak tartare – chopped raw beef with caramelised onion and parmesan. Tom intends there will always be raw fish (trevally, for example, comes with verjus, tangelo and fennel-flavoured salt), so your supremely unadventurous in-laws aren’t going to order that either. But just don’t mention the thin sheet of lardo adding its unctuous charm to the walnut topping and everybody will adore the asparagus. And what’s not to love about bright green peas and broad beans sitting on a squishy bed of ricotta and mint? Ditto the fluffy, cheesy corn on the cob, with Aleppo and honey butter and manchego, and the luscious sharing plate of baked sole fillets, smoked tomato butter and fennel. Pork, rabbit and pistachio terrine is reminiscent of an upscale French bistro, as is the perfectly formed quenelle of chocolate ganache, candied orange, olive oil and sea salt and the comfortingly wobbly sheep’s milk panna cotta. On second thoughts, the in-laws will be raving.


Besides The Bresolin, Tom Adams was head chef of Cinderella and has cooked at Ortega Fish Shack and Atlas as well as in London – a CV which surely speaks for itself.


You know you are in good hands when Juno Miers elucidates all the obscure details of the menu without having to be prompted, then questions whether you really do need that side of bread and butter, given that two of the dishes you ordered already come with the house sourdough. Molly McLeod has long run Next Door, the adjoining bar that Tom and Juno also took over from Mason.


Besides the electrifying cocktails, there is the now mandatory inclusion of natural wines on the drinks list, including a not-too-funky orange wine, 2022 Kenzie Beautiful Strangers from Hawke’s Bay.

3 Wilson St, Newtown, Wellington
Check website for opening hours
SMALL PLATES: $16 – $36
CONTACT: 027 293 6642