TRAVEL We check out the new foodie scene in Christchurch


Food - - Contents - WORDS RE­NEE JONES

Christchurch may have been forced to rein­vent it­self in re­cent years, but it’s not just the cut­ting-edge, mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture or funky street art that’s mak­ing it a must-visit des­ti­na­tion.

Food­ies will be in heaven when they dis­cover what’s on of­fer in the South Is­land’s largest city as it re­builds it­self in the af­ter­math of the Can­ter­bury earth­quakes. A ver­i­ta­ble smor­gas­bord of trendy cafés, restau­rants and bars have flooded Christchurch’s streets in re­cent years, mean­ing vis­i­tors and lo­cals alike are now spoilt for choice.

Fri­day night

There’s no bet­ter way to kick off the week­end than by head­ing to the heart of the city for a drink and some live mu­sic at one of the coolest new bars in town. Walk­ing into Old Gov­ern­ment Bar, or O.G.B., is like walk­ing back in time. The speakeasy, pro­hi­bi­tion-style es­tab­lish­ment brings a touch of old world glam­our to Cathe­dral Square. A small, in­ti­mate space, it em­ploys su­per-friendly staff, who are dressed to im­press, 1920s style. It’s hard to miss; lo­cated in the his­toric Old Gov­ern­ment Build­ing, it has an uber-cool 1946 Austin 10 parked out­side.

By now you’ve prob­a­bly worked up an ap­petite, so ven­ture to nearby New Re­gent Street for din­ner in the city’s only sur­viv­ing com­plete her­itage streetscape. At night, this pretty street glit­ters with fairy lights, and Twenty Seven Steps is the per­fect place to appreciate the beau­ti­ful 1930s ar­chi­tec­ture. The so­phis­ti­cated but re­laxed restau­rant serves de­li­cious, Euro­pean-in­spired food, and the ser­vice is ex­cel­lent. The per­fectly-cooked Tai Tapu Veni­son with Fon­dant Cele­riac is highly rec­om­mended, and the de­lec­ta­ble desserts on the ever-chang­ing menu are guar­an­teed to de­light.

It would be re­miss not to en­joy a night­cap at charm­ing whisky bar The Last Word just up the street; the per­fect place to sink into some retro arm­chairs and savour a wee dram to end the night.


A trendy brunch scene has evolved in Christchurch and nowhere is this more ev­i­dent than in the lat­est hot-spot, Un­com­mon on Tuam Street. The café’s sleek and mod­ern in­te­rior is soft­ened with pot plants through­out, and you’ll be left in no doubt of the skill of the chefs, as you can watch them beaver­ing away in the open kitchen.

The But­ter­milk Hot­cake is a lit­tle piece of heaven on a plate, light and fluffy, it’s served with vanilla mas­car­pone, maple syrup, sea­sonal fruits, nuts and seeds.

A visit to Christchurch would not be com­plete with­out check­ing out the farm­ers’ mar­kets that burst into life on Satur­day morn­ings.

Christchurch Farm­ers’ Mar­ket is lo­cated on the grounds of the his­toric Ric­car­ton House, and it’s a hub of flavoursome de­lights. Don’t miss Posh Por­ridge, a stall serv­ing de­li­cious com­bi­na­tions to warm your belly on cold win­ter days. Think whisky raisins, maple gra­nola and vanilla cus­tard, and you’ll un­der­stand why the queue is so long. Al­ter­na­tively, grab a de­li­cious, freshly-made or­ganic salad from

Bear­lion Foods, your body will thank you for it. Take a seat on the river bank and tuck in, it’s the per­fect place to in­dulge while watch­ing the world go by.

If you’re open to a drive, make the 20-minute jour­ney to the hip port­side sub­urb of Lyt­tel­ton for the lively farm­ers’ mar­ket that takes over the main street of the vil­lage un­til 1pm. It’s a great spot to wan­der around stalls and food trucks while lis­ten­ing to live mu­sic.

By now you may be start­ing to lag with all the ex­cite­ment, mean­ing it must be time for an espresso hit at the Lyt­tel­ton Cof­fee Com­pany, a café that sim­ply oozes cool. They roast cof­fee beans on site and have ex­cel­lent food. Snug­gle up near the fire or rug up and head out onto the large deck to en­joy the spec­tac­u­lar views over the har­bour.

Back in the city and the chances are it’s wine o’clock – so make your way to Ve­su­vio, a cosy lit­tle wine and jazz bar on Pa­panui Road full of am­biance. En­joy a drink from the ex­cel­lent wine list, and if you’re peck­ish, there’s tapas and de­li­cious cheeses on of­fer. This great hide­away has var­i­ous seat­ing op­tions; out­side in a lus­cious, plant-filled, brick court­yard, in­side in the in­ti­mate main bar, and up­stairs, where there’s a tiny ‘li­brary’ with faded news­pa­pers and books lin­ing the walls, il­lu­mi­nated by old-fash­ioned desk lamps.

Snug­gle up near the fire or head out onto the large deck to en­joy spec­tac­u­lar views A visit would not be com­plete with­out check­ing out the farm­ers’ mar­kets that burst into life

A short stroll later, and hid­den just off Vic­to­ria Street is one of the city’s favourite South­east Asian restau­rants. King of Snake serves up mouth-wa­ter­ing, con­tem­po­rary dishes with flair from a swanky restau­rant filled with ex­otic and ex­trav­a­gant dé­cor. The pur­ple skull wall­pa­per, gold tiles and lamp­shades that look like snakes hang­ing from the ceil­ing set the scene, the great ser­vice is a bonus, but the real star of the show is the food. The flavours pack some punch – and the Moong Dal and Mixed Seed Salad, Fresh Lime and Av­o­cado is divine. If you have any room left, try one of their cock­tails be­fore you leave.


It wouldn’t be the per­fect Sun­day with­out in­dulging in break­fast at the aptly named Hello Sun­day, a quaint lit­tle café ooz­ing char­ac­ter lo­cated in a 19th cen­tury for­mer post of­fice, and later church, in the heart of Sy­den­ham.

At­ten­tive and friendly staff com­ple­ment the charm­ing touches scat­tered through­out; wooden pews hint at the build­ing’s for­mer life and fresh posies adorn the ta­bles.

There are plenty of cre­ative dishes on of­fer. The Av­o­cado and Broad­bean dish is de­li­cious, and comes with poached eggs, goat’s cheese, dukkah and beetroot purée. It’s so beau­ti­fully pre­sented, it al­most seems a shame to eat it… al­most.

Ready for an­other caffeine hit yet? If so, C1 Espresso is a vi­brant café on High Street serv­ing up su­perb cof­fee and food. This large, pop­u­lar spot is filled with quirky touches in­clud­ing a hid­den door from the kitchen pos­ing as a book­case, pin­ball ma­chines, an old sewing ma­chine con­verted into a wa­ter dis­penser and, of course, the now in­fa­mous pneu­matic tubes that de­liver slid­ers to mul­ti­ple sta­tions through­out the café at 100km/h. What’s not to love about this iconic place?

There’s no bet­ter way to end the week­end than on a sweet note, so make a stop at Rol­lickin’ Ge­lato. At the same time, you’ll get the chance to soak up the lively day­time at­mos­phere of New Re­gent Street. Treat your­self to a spot of peo­ple-watch­ing while de­vour­ing the most de­li­cious icy treat. This wee gem con­sis­tently cre­ates new and in­ter­est­ing flavours to tit­il­late your taste buds; a re­cent hit was a cin­na­mon ge­lato with sug­ared donuts and berry jam. It was named Su­gar, Spice and All Things Nice – which is an apt way to de­scribe a week­end eat­ing your way around the foodie mecca that is Christchurch.

It’s so beau­ti­fully pre­sented, it al­most seems a shame to eat it... al­most

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