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New Kids on the Culinary Block

A clutch of exceptional new eateries have stamped their mark on the city in the last year and we’ve rounded up some of the best, just for you.



A fine but casual dining atmosphere with a laid-back, buzzing vibe awaits at EARL, the city’s coolest little food-centric wine bar nestled in the heart of the CBD. Using exceptional ingredients, EARL takes a simple, pared-back approach to its coastal European-style dishes, perfectly pairing them with handpicked local and international wines. The Earl of Burger is a definite favourite – culinary royalty Nigella Lawson herself rated it ten out of ten!

2. Permit Room
Situated in one of Christchurch’s most iconic buildings, the former Isaac House, the Permit Room is a colonial-style restaurant that’s sure delight every one of your senses. Travel back in time to India’s 1940s alcohol prohibition days (rest assured – alcohol is definitely not prohibited here) and prepare to indulge in a feast of Southern Indian flavours. Top it all off with charming, unparalleled service and you’ve got yourself a culinary experience to remember!

3. Original Sin
An upbeat ambience and immaculate interior set the scene for an unforgettable dining experience at Original Sin, where you’ll encounter devour-able dishes that are created with unmatchable culinary expertise. Using seasonal, local produce, Original Sin caters to every taste and every diet – book a table and find out for yourself.

4. Burger Burger
On the hunt for a supreme burger? Burger Burger’s first South Island restaurant flung open its doors last month and we’re drooling over the line-up of mammoth burgers, alongside scrumptious sides (kumara fries, edamame beans, charred broccoli… the list goes on), old-fashioned shakes, cool cocktails and “really cold beers”.

5. Chiwahwah Mexican Cantina
Take your taste buds on a culinary adventure with Chiwahwah, the swanky Mexican cantina with a menu to die for. Perched overlooking the Avon river, this vibrant eatery serves up everything Mexican from tacos and quesadillas to ceviche and ensalada. Whether you’re after a cheeky margarita, a tapas-style banquet or a birthday dinner, head on down to the coolest Mexican joint in town.

6. Tuam Street Kitchen
Delivering hearty brunches and lunches to your table, Tuam Street Kitchen offers up a jam-packed menu that’s ‘designed to be fun, fast and diet-friendly’. Kick your weekend off with a breakfast cocktail or liqueur coffee and savour a Belgian Waffle Sandwich – banana slices, Nutella, Greek yoghurt and Oreo crumbs sandwiched between two waffles… need we say more?

7. The Yard
The hottest of hotspots, this boutique eatery offers a medley of international eats, including Parisian-style creperie Maison de Crepes, MOKOJI Korean Pancakes, hole-in-the-wall sandwich bar OTTO Delicatessen and more. Have a seat in the light-filled space and take your pick.

8. Story Restaurant
Food connoisseurs will be in their element at Story, where outstandingly delectable dishes reside. Bought to you by talented team behind Town Tonic, Story Restaurant offers up creative culinary creations that will satisfy even the fussiest of palates. Vegans and vegetarians – there’s plenty for you!


Classic nostalgic nosh: Purple Weka Cafe and Bar

Remember those traditional, tummy satisfying meals from childhood that made winter wickedly wonderful? Purple Weka Café & Bar is the place to go to reconnect with those delectable dishes we’ve all but forgotten.



For that perfect weekend treat, sip a wine while savouring old-time favourites like lamb’s fry and bacon with slow roasted tomato and red currant jelly; or Ma’s Mince (owner Stewart McDougall’s mother’s recipe), a combination of savoury mince topped with a soft poached egg and served with five grain toast; their Eggs Benedict – two poached eggs on toasted ciabatta with a choice of crispy bacon or smoked salmon, smothered in hollandaise sauce – is classic nostalgic nosh.

If it’s soup you crave then grab your friends or work-mates and hunker down over steaming bowls of homemade creamy mushroom soup, old-fashioned vegetable soup, or pumpkin and spinach soup – nutritious and delicious! Purple Weka’s Big Breakfast of streaky bacon, sausages, hash browns, sautéed mushrooms, grilled tomato and two eggs is a must, while their corn fritters, three egg omelette, and creamy mushrooms soothes those rumbling tums.

For a fast-fix breakfast, nothing beats their toast topped with the sweetest selection of homemade jams and marmalade, all of which are preservative and additive free; you can even buy a jar to gift to your mum, she’ll be well impressed! So, with loads of parking, what are you waiting for?

Find Purple Weka at 48 Fitzgerald Avenue, Christchurch Central. Open Monday to Friday 6am to 4pm, Saturday to Sunday 8am to 3pm, phone 03 366 0258.


Asian crème de la crème: Hoi An House

The flavours we crave now are fresh, tasty and exotic. Some of us are on a health kick, flexitarian, or looking for plant-based food, but all of us love the light, fragrant and just plain irresistible tastes of modern Asian cuisine.



Street food is currently king and there is nowhere better to get your hit than Commi. Located on the corner of Colombo and Somerfield Streets in Beckenham, families, locals and those from further away with a nose for the best in Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, Malaysian and Chinese head to this casual and cosy environment where every dish is under $20, there are sharing plates and no bookings are needed.

The latest Asian food trends tend to contain lots of vegetables and healthier sauces – it’s not just about being exotic and tasty but also about being lighter and healthier and that is what you’ll find in abundance at Commi, with choices to please every palate.

Hoi An House in Halswell Road is destination dining for all the very best in Vietnamese and Thai cuisine, in a fine and historic venue. Full service fine dining is complemented by the garden terrace and the function room that can be arranged in intimate spaces or for up to 80 guests. A lunch menu is available from Wednesday to Sunday for both dine in and takeaway.

The chefs at both Commi and Hoi An House have travelled to Christchurch from Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia to bring you the flavours of their home towns, prepared under fully compliant and sustainable business practices.

The quality of the ingredients used is the central tenet of both restaurants, with the crème of local vegetables combined with the very best of imported items such as bamboo shoots, baby corn, and water chestnut, to keep dishes authentic. The soy and oyster sauces used are gluten free, and most dishes can be made vegetarian with notice to the chef.

The Asian Garden Cooking School at Harewood completes the hat trick of excellence in Asian cuisine. Here you, friends, or colleagues can learn the techniques required to reproduce the authentic and delicious tastes from the restaurants in your kitchens at home.

Book your individual or group lessons at


Monday Room Magic

It’s been a very merry month of May at The Monday Room, for they are in a triumphant frame of mind and are intent on celebration right through to June!



With buildings coming down and new buildings rising around them post quakes, this valiant dining establishment has staunchly remained open for business, and now, with the projected reopening of the top end of High Street only days away, it’s definitely time to party.

“We really want to say a big thank you to Christchurch; thank you for your help and loyalty to us; thank you to all the amazing construction people around here who’ve been so considerate and cooperative; thank you to our patrons, not just for seeking us out and getting what we’re all about – which is to encourage a bit of fun and fantasy – but for spreading the good word, because the people just keep coming and we’re having a fantastic time!” co-owner Katy Mecchia says.

The Monday Room fans have much to look forward to in merry-making and mischief as Katy and her crew prepare their wonderland for the pursuit of pleasure. There will be sidewalk entertainment and the best in live music, with top-drawer guest performers enhancing your dining experience, which will go something like this…



As the White Rabbit fluffs out your napkin and Alice pours you a complimentary glass of champers, courtesy of Trust the Chef and Trust the Somm, you cast your eyes over the menu and ponder the feast that awaits. The item Degustations certainly sounds intriguing; it’s described as tastings of the small plate collection of autumn dishes (with bewitching names like Forbidden Fruit, Give Them Pumpkin to Talk About, Oh Deer! French Kiss and Six Beet Under), followed by tastings from the large plate collection (with noir names like The Silence of the Lambs, Three Little Pigs, Beauty and the Beef and The Black Eyed Peas).

For a bit of something-on-the-side, you’re truly tempted by tantalising side plates of Roasted Cauliflower, Lentils, Coconut Yoghurt; Salt Baked Parsnip and Fermented Parsnip; Smoked Potato, Burnt Leek; Crispy Autumn Root Skins, Smoked Mayonaise; Salad Greens, Pear, Almonds, and Maple Vinaigrette. Oh, how divinely decadent!

As you discreetly mop your drooling mouth, you catch sight of the sweet plates collection and look up to find the Cheshire Cat giving you his most wicked grin, while the Mad Hatter cackles his joy as he relieves you of your menu. “Will that be a bit of everything for you then, my dear?” he asks. You weakly nod your assent as your tummy rumbles. You sip your champers and succumb to the sweetest surrender you will ever know.



Find The Monday Room at 161 High Street, phone 03 377 5262 or visit


Vegetables take centre stage

Meat and three vege has long been a staple of Kiwi dinners, but it seems the culinary tables are turning. Vegetables are increasingly taking centre stage and not just for the vegetarians amongst us.




We seem to be more open to a variety of vegetables that were once considered undesirable as we witness the emergence of cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles – showing us all that we can get creative in the kitchen. Whether it’s roasting an entire cabbage, creating spaghetti squash or even giving mushroom steaks a whirl – the options are endless on how we consume our vege and this plant-based food trend is not slowing down!

Search data from Google Trends has seen an impressive worldwide increase in the interest in veganism from 2004 to 2018. Christchurch restaurant Town Tonic recently promoted a plant-based degustation dinner. However, this is not a first for owner and chef Jamie Bennett.

Bennett, who also owns Story on New Regent Street, has been increasingly adding plant-based dishes to his menus for the past five years. “The seven course plant-based degustation at Town Tonic included whole foods, gluten free and refined sugar free courses,” Bennett explains. “This dining concept of plant-based foods is becoming more popular as diners are more open to the idea of ditching meat or dairy a couple of nights a week.

“People are more aware and educated about food and where it has come from. They also consider the health impacts when deciding on the food they eat, which naturally leads to eating more vegetables.”


Gorgeous food on the go: Gorgeous Food

At Gorgeous Food, the cabinets are full of delicious, quality homestyle pies, sandwiches and sweet treats that have all been lovingly prepared on-site.



The specialist bakery, located at 68 Springs Road, has been open since 2005, catering to hungry locals and those after a quick, delectable bite to eat on the go. Owner JoAnne Fryer, who runs the operation with partner Pete, says, while the service is quick, and the food is ready in a flash, it’s “not your usual takeaway”.

“We bake all our own products, except the bread which is sourced from Vic’s Bakehouse. This makes us quite unique,” she says. “We’re providing quality homestyle baking, using real butter and eggs. “It’s the older-style recipes, like Nana’s Chocolate Fudge, that are the most popular.”

Other favourite items gaining points for nostalgia include Real Beef and Cheese Pies, Bacon and Egg Pies and Carrot Cake. New additions to the line-up, such as the dairy-free and gluten-free Plum and Almond Friands, are quickly becoming popular items on the menu too! For their caffeine fix, customers can also pick up a takeaway Vivace Espresso Coffee, prepared by barista Tammy.

“We have a lot of regulars,” Jo says. “We know all their names, it’s fantastic. It’s a real buzz for us because we’re providing what they want.” The team also offers catering for local morning and afternoon teas, lunches and parties, with all handmade food presented in disposable boxes, ready for you to collect and take home.

Gorgeous Food is open Monday to Friday 6am to 3:30pm and Saturdays from 7am to 1:30pm. For more information, phone 03 344 6043 and visit’


On the grapevine

Raise a glass! It’s time to toast the most popular wine trends of 2019. Is more rosé on the way or is riesling the next big thing? We’ve got a sneak peek – after all, we heard it on the grapevine!



  1. Pink power
    Drumroll please… rosé is here to stay! Not only reserved for summer, the pink drink has quickly become a firm favourite among Kiwis over recent years, with a ton of options just a supermarket shop away. Local brands from Northland down to Central Otago will continue to put their own delish twist on this punchy wine – cocktail creations are on the horizon! Bonus: its rose-tinted hues make for super Instagrammable pics!

  2. Conscious consumers
    Wine is another product that’s quickly joining the sustainability train due to skyrocketing demand for organic, biodynamic and vegan-friendly bubbles – shock alert: most wines are not vegan, and this might be news to those who’ve adopted the vegan lifestyle. In 2019 we can expect to see dozens more environmentally friendly options on the shelves of the organic, biodynamic and/or vegan variety. Head to for a comprehensive vegan wine list.

  3. Prosecco passion
    Prosecco? I’ll take two please! Good news: these once-haughty bubbles are no longer just reserved for the Christmas banquet. A golden, sophisticated Italian beauty, prosecco is generally a lot easier on both the pocket and the palate than its better-known sibling champagne. These sparkling suds will continue to grow in popularity this year in New Zealand following its fashionable ubiquity overseas in 2018.


Marvellous Meatballs: Balls & All

It seems like an impossibly glamorous occupation, to travel the world playing polo, so why did Alex Rowland-Jones and George Cooper-Dixon give it all up to sell meatballs? After years on the road, tired of living out of suitcases, the call of home was too strong to resist and they decided to come back to New Zealand to put down some roots.



Inspired by one of their mum’s favourite homemade recipes, they had been talking together for years about setting up their own food business. After fine tuning their own special meatball recipe to perfection, ‘Balls & All’ at the Colombo was launched and is now open to delight your taste buds!

Their delicious meatballs are rolled fresh everyday onsite and made from only the best quality locally sourced ingredients. For the very reasonable price of $13.50 you get three mouth-watering meatballs served on top of your choice of base; mashed potatoes, fettucine pasta, or cannelloni beans. The dish is topped off with a splash of their very own homemade meatball sauce (sorry we can’t tell you the recipe – it’s top secret) and a sprinkle of herbs cut fresh from mum’s herb garden. It doesn’t get fresher than that!

To get your meatball fix, roll in to see them at 363 Colombo Street, Christchurch. To find out more check out their Facebook page or phone Alex on 027 727 3542.


Spumone Ice-Cream Cake – Recipe

A much-loved dessert in southern Italy, spumone is a simple dome or loaf-shaped ice-cream cake, served sliced into wedges.


SERVES 6-8. Food Photographer: © Lauren Bamford – Lifestyle Photographer: © Emiko Davies



50g savoiardi biscuits
60ml espresso coffee (or milk), cooled

4 cups full-cream (whole) milk
200g sugar
100g 70 percent dark chocolate, roughly chopped
30g unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup pouring (single/light) cream

100g whole, raw almonds
60g sugar



Gelato: Place milk and sugar in a saucepan. Heat until almost boiling (you mustn’t let it boil). Sugar should have dissolved and surface of the milk, frothy. Remove from the heat and pour half of the milk into a container. While it is still hot, add the chocolate and cocoa to the milk left in the saucepan and whisk until smooth. Cool, then chill in the fridge. Leave the container of milk and sugar to cool completely, add the cream and chill in the fridge.

Churn the milk gelato in an icecream machine according to instructions. While the gelato is still soft, pour it into a loaf (bar) tin lined with plastic wrap and smooth it out with a spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and place it in the freezer to harden for a few hours or overnight. Churn the chocolate gelato in the ice-cream machine until soft and creamy.

Cupeta: Place almonds, sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a single layer in the bottom of a frying pan set over a medium heat. Cook until the sugar begins to melt and turn caramel brown. Shake the pan occasionally as the sugar melts, then toss the almonds with the caramel until toasted and well coated. Pour mixture onto a chopping board lined with baking paper and leave to cool. Before it is completely cool and hardened, chop finely with a heavy knife.

Dip the savoiardi biscuits into the coffee (or milk) and place a layer of them evenly over the fior di latte gelato in the loaf tin. Sprinkle over the chopped cupeta, then smooth over the softened, just-churned chocolate gelato right to the top.
Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until the chocolate gelato has hardened. Turn out onto a flat serving plate.


Edited extract from Tortellini at Midnight by Emiko Davies, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $57. Available in stores nationwide.


First is more: First Table

Eating out is a luxury, so discovering new dining experiences with limited ‘fun-funds’ can often feel risky for restaurant-goers. First Table reduces the financial risk of trying somewhere new by offering an incentive to dine early, creating a win-win experience for foodies and restaurants alike.



If you haven’t heard of it yet, First Table is an online restaurant booking platform. The concept was inspired by a Queenstown-based restaurant which offered a 50 percent deal on the first table of the night as a local’s secret. Crowds attracted crowds and the rest is history.

Food lovers booking on First Table get half price at affiliated restaurants. You pay a $10 booking fee to reserve a table for two to four people and receive 50 percent off the food bill. The catch? There really isn’t much of one, just that the available reservation times are restricted to the ‘first table’ of breakfast, lunch or dinner, while drinks are full price. It’s a must for those devoted to sampling the best of their city’s cuisine!

Rooted in New Zealand, it’s exciting to see First Table expand to other parts of the world including Australia, the UK, Ireland, and Indonesia. Check out which Christchurch-based restaurants are available for booking at Leave a review of your experience and you’ll have the chance to win Review of the Week and $50 First Table credit.

Pictured is Welles Street, one of Christchurch’s many superb food places that operates through First Table.