Singer, songwriter and cookbook writer Flip Grater managed to grab six days back in her native Christchurch recently, and spent them searching out new and old features of the city's gastronomic infrastructure. We asked for her notes.
In the days when I wasn't on the Fly My Pretties tour or my own Cookbook Tour book tour, I managed to do some exhausting, stomach-stretching, wallet-emptying, happy-making research into kai and coffee options in the New Christchurch. I am now pleased to report that I have plenty of great news and am really excited about food, wine and music venues in The Garden City. As the city begins its rebuild, everything is new or re-vamped and people are taking risks and creating really interesting spaces.
Church Corner has become something like a Ch-Ch-Chinatown. There are several excellent Chinese restaurants including one that specialises in Szechuan-style cuisine and a Yum Char place that is always completely full and almost exclusively with Chinese diners (always a good sign!) The area also has Vietnamese, Korean and Indian as well as a specialty teashop and a crammed-cupboard-style Asian supermarket.
Of course, my favourite Szechuan restaurant has always been Gingko and the owner Suanne tells me they’re re-opening in February on Cambridge Terrace. Yessss!
For the best dumplings head north to China Kitchen, which has reopened on Papanui Rd and is even better than before!
The best hand-pulled noodles in town can be found at Zest Noodle House, Northlands Mall.
For modern Thai Chinwag Eathai has re-opened on Victoria Street.
At the finer end of the scale Jonny Schwass is about to open a new restaurant called Gorilla. Site and opening date yet to be confirmed but keep an eye on his website. The George Hotel’s 50-Bistro has a great breakfast menu and kumara gnocchi on their dinner menu – yum!
For gourmet groceries head to Container City AKA Cashel Mall AKA Re:Start and pop into the relocated and revamped Johnson's Grocer.
Christchurch vegetarians are still spoilt for choice. The Buddhist Centre cafe on Riccarton Rd is open and has expanded its menu, The Lotus Heart has moved to St Asaph St between Fitzgerald and Barbadoes, and my favourite vegetarian spot Welcome is still open on Wharenui Rd. Plus Halswell New World has started to import Quorn (mushroom-based fake meat product from UK). As far as I know they’re the only importer of this product in the country and it’s about bloody time someone sold it here!
For coffee, those cats at Switch are still my favourites. Their New Brighton roastery and café is open plus they have a fantastic new cafe on Madras St (across from CPIT) called Black Betty.
Addington Coffee Co-op has queues out the door these days, and rightly so. They have excellent coffee, food, ethics and outdoor spaces, as well as a brand new store selling fairly traded goods and locally made stuffs.
Eastsiders are raving about Under The New Red Veranda, which has re-opened in a house around the corner from the original Under The Red Veranda.
Oh, and C4 of course – they’ve relocated to Tuam St.
Underground’s Sydenham café has remained open for the Southsiders.
For beer: The Brewery has become an Eastside hub in Woolston with Cassels and Sons beautiful tap beers, good pizza and regular gigs. And when the new Dux Live opens on Lincoln Rd we’ll be able to enjoy Ginger Tom again … just like the new good old days..
Awesome news for South Island whisky lovers – Whisky Galore has re-opened on Victoria Street!
For whisky in a bar setting, try The Darkroom on St Asaph St next to the re-opened Galaxy Records and the cupboard-like new RDU studio.
Of course the best whisky selection used to be at Goodbye Blue Monday and I’m pleased to report that the Moore family (previous owners and part-owners of Cartel, Goodbye Blue Monday etc) will be opening a caravan-style bar called Smash Palace on Bealey Ave in January so we may again experience the ex-mayor collecting our glasses.
For wine: St Germaine for a wonderful selection of French and NZ wines. The mysterious container bar across from Chinwag on Victoria Street also has a good list and a great vibe.
As I said, exciting times! Love Christchurch.