The Christchurch Food Scene
Farm to table has been brought even closer in Christchurch. It’s now like the pottager in the back garden to the dining room. But there is also, I discovered, a new food fashion in town: foraging. (More on that below!)
What I love about the rebuild and restoration of Christchurch is the passionate entrepreneurial chefs and cafe owners and the Cantabs who have come back to start their own businesses. They’re all mates too, it seems, recommending each other’s places or even consulting on menus. Here are 6 places I ate at, from cafes to kiwiana to fine dining with a twist, and I would recommend you do too:
Where to get GREAT New Zealand food in Christchurch
1 I met the totally cool Jade Temepara, owner of Kakano Cafe and Cookery School. She is a Southland girl (35, still a girl to me!) with the tell-tale rolling ‘r’ of Invercargill and hails from the Kati Mamoe Ngai Tahu iwi (yes she had to spell that for me!). Her people have the rights, and only them, to harvest the ti ti bird, better known as muttonbird, from Stewart Island. Things have changed since the tales of my husband gnawing his way through the greasy bird on marae visits. Jade reckons it’s not as fatty these days. It’s possibly the way she cooks it though. I loved it! If you popped into her house you’d probably also find seaweed flapping on the line to be served in the cafe.
2 Roots Restaurant won Cuisine Magazine Restaurant of the Year 2015. It’s through the tunnel in Lyttelton and has only 10 tables, but what you’ll get here I can only describe as astonishing. Read my full review and see my photo gallery of our 5-course (which became 8) degustation including things like dehydrated moss, pork brains and steamed paua on seaweed. You’ll be amazed what what chef Guilio Sturla can think up when he’s out foraging for edibles in the bush!
3 For slow cooked meat served to go or to eat in at their pop-up container outlet, try Fine Fare Kitchen. It’s in a container surrounded by three others on the corner of Salisbury and Victoria and serves slow cooked food – fast food style. Great to pick up and take home, or eat in under the new canopy with heaters. I had a Merino beef cheek burger in a brioche bun – all made on site. Grab a comfort dish of gnocchi or a lamb shank or pork cooked three ways, and don’t forget the naughty triple cooked potatoes. Update: Fine Fare Kitchen has now closed. It was a pop-up and we loved it, but now we must find somewhere else 🙁
4 For a surprisingly unique brunch menu go to The Monday Room on the corner of Moorhouse and Madras. I loved their imaginative ham hock croquettes served on a pea and avocado mash with a couple of poached eggs. The crispy cauliflower fritters with dukkah and eggs was also fab. But they are even more renown for their cocktails and desserts, so either go back at the end of the day, or plan a date night.
5 Hello Sunday in Elgin St, Sydenham is so popular with their all-day brunch concept that on the weekends the line out the door can be an hour. I had the fresh crab Japanese crepe which was amazing. The building itself has had a very incarnations from post office to Sunday School, but don’t be fooled, that’s not how it got its name!
6 Gentle Giant has only been open six months and is the baby of Korean chef May Shin, her second cafe in town. Her dishes have cool twists too and I have it on good authority her green tea made with rice is the best in town. I had eggs bene with crispy salmon and a pesto potato cake and we also tasted her salmon and cream cheese on a soft and chewy pretzel roll. Amaze!