TRAVEL We check out the new foodie scene in Christchurch
THE CHRISTCHURCH REBUILD HAS GIVEN THE CITY A WHOLE NEW FLAVOUR, MAKING IT THE PERFECT SPOT FOR A FOODIE WEEKEND AWAY
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.
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