Bangalore Polo Club (Wellington)

3 Courtenay Place, City, ph: 04-384 6416,

by David Burton | Cuisine issue #151 | Friday, 17 February, 2012

Bangalore Polo Club (Wellington)

Having spent all day prowling about the ravines after tigers, there’s no better place for a chap to relax than a cane armchair at the Bangalore Polo Club, among potted ferns, boar and thar trophies, beat-up polo sticks and team photos.

Apparently half of Wellington seems to think so too, for although this sprawling Raj-themed bar has only been open since late last year, it has already attracted a strong following among the young. A transplant from quake-torn Christchurch, it’s actually the Bangalore Polo Club Mark II – and an improved version at that.

All the prized chattels, including a stuffed badger, have been shifted north. What used to be the forecourt of Coyote Bar has been given a retractable glass ceiling and made into a conservatory – behind this is a busy bar and a side room where you can sit beneath portraits of maharajas and burra sahibs. The whimsy of it all is most alluring, especially since nothing is to be taken at all seriously.

Since the idea for this venture arose over a drink at the Long Bar in Singapore’s Raffles Hotel, the owners have perpetuated the custom of encouraging patrons to peel peanuts and then drop the shells on the floor.

“It gets easier after the first time!” quipped our waiter, sweeping aside the pile my well-bred guest had accumulated on our tabletop.

Although BPC is primarily a bar, the vast scope of the menu elevates it above pub grub. Ranging from hearty grills to seafood, curries and pizza, it’s perhaps a little too diverse, since some dishes are done better than others.

Justifiably popular as an entree is the umai – a Malaysian take on ceviche – in which marinated raw fish is served on pickled lettuce, carrot and red onion, with hints of fresh coriander and chilli.

Although humbly billed as a pâté, the delicious creaminess of our other starter, the chicken liver pâté, more than qualified it as a parfait.

A 280g beef ribeye, ordered medium-rare, was dry at the edges due to being overdone, as were the accompanying potatoes, eggplant, capsicum and zucchini. Billed by the waiter as “ratatouille without the tomatoes”, in truth this melange would have been better with the tomatoes.

In order to cater to all tastes, the laksa is served with a lime half and a lump of fiery, fishy rempah on the side. Stir in the lot and you’ll have a good approximation of a Malaysia-hot laksa.

A great dessert option is the moist, sweet-sour lemon and polenta cake, served with lemongrass ice-cream and a lemon “wedge” filled with citrus jelly.

To the rear of the restaurant is a salon with a cluster of birdcages, where the swirling floral wallpaper begins. For all its feminine flounces though, BPC remains at heart a sports bar – as evidenced by the screens (set within ornate gilt frames) which come alive during any big match.

Bangalore Polo Club
3 Courtenay Place, City,
ph: 04-384 6416,
7 days 11am to late
Mains $20-$39