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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


The Earls of East Block: Earl Restaurant

Restaurateur Tom Newfield and business partner, Chef Sam Campbell, opened Welles Street in 2017. Now they’re the Earls of a new culinary kingdom at 128 Lichfield Street in the city. We caught up with Tom to find out about Earl.



You haven’t even been open for six months, but you’ve had Nigella Lawson and the Prime Minister dining in, how does it feel to get that level of kudos?
I’m super proud of what my team and I have created, we are just excited to share it with everyone. Of course, rather humbled to host these two guests in particular, both of whom were extremely lovely, in fact I was more nervous of my 10 year old nephew’s review on the same dish that Nigella ate; he can be a harsh critic – but in the end they both agreed, the Earl of Burger is a ten out ten.

What drew you to hospitality?
The people, the energy, the round the clock sense of fun… and of course, the food.

How did you see Earl standing out against other culinary options in the city?
I see it more as complementing the other offerings here in Christchurch; all these unique, individual passionate operators doing their own thing, beating to their own drum, creates an eclectic and vibrant hospitality fabric for the city which gives our customers so much choice, appealing to everyone’s taste. Earl will appeal to those diners geared towards great wine, conversation and simple food done well.

How would you describe Earl’s vibe and your culinary offering?
Earl serves as a canvas for produce-driven dishes synonymous with the flavour, energy and relaxed vibe inspired by the coastal European culture. Our food philosophy is to take simple and traditional dishes and execute them using exceptional ingredients, whilst having some fun. This presents a skilful yet still unpretentious blend of cuisines and ideas. The vibe is casual yet refined – like an understated bistro you find in neighbourhoods of big metropolitan cities, but right here in the SALT district of our own inner city.

What does the next 12 months have in store for you?
Lots, but also more of the same, as I think consistency is the key. As an emerging lifestyle hospitality brand, we are basing our foundations on accessibility and informality, so with any new venture (which you may see open in the next 12 months), you can expect nothing less than our all-inclusive hospitality to be on offer where fun and flavour go hand in hand.


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.



New kids on the block: Fermentist

They’re the cool new kids on the culinary block, a micro-brewery, taproom and eatery with beer at its roots and sustainability in its heart.



The Fermentist offers so much more than delectable food and beverages; it’s also a popular function venue. After all, the micro-brewery’s guiding philosophy is to bring people together over great beers and food and that’s what you’ll find at the heart of any great event.

Catering to both small and large groups, there’s options to suit everyone, from brewery tours through to personalised functions and events.

Its own signature beers and cider are brewed onsite, complemented by a unique approach to food, with a menu that is focused on plant-based, locally sourced produce and fermented foods, with herbs and vegetables harvested from onsite edible gardens.
Opening hours are 8am to 10pm Monday to Friday and weekends from 10am to 9pm.

To try The Fermentist experience, find them at 380 Colombo Street, Sydenham or visit

New Hospitality Heart: Elmwood Trading Company

It’s an extra happy Easter for the denizens of Merivale, Elmwood, Strowan and Bryndwr as the longstanding vacancy for a local and welcoming top-quality tavern has finally been filled.



The Elmwood Trading Company is now under the experienced anddedicated ownership of Marty and Naomi Fuller who live in the neighbourhood and intend the bar and restaurant to be the warm heart of the community. “We take an old fashioned and hands on approach – it really is my pleasure to host our establishment,” Marty says. The Fullers owned Trevinos for 16 years and, with 40 years in the industry, Marty is a Life member of the Hospitality Association of New Zealand. With earthquake issues at Trevinos finalised, Marty and Naomi saw the Elmwood Trading Company and knew immediately it was for them. 



“We are not making sweeping changes, but we are definitely enhancing the environment and what we serve,” Marty says. “We are retaining our friendly bar and refurbishing the dining and functions area – it’s a meeting place for friends and family. We have fabulous food because our chef team has come with us from Trevinos.” New menus offer something for everyone. Bar favourites pizzas, wings, and chips are joined by salads and lighter lunches, and dinner favourites – burgers, grilled steaks, curries and pork belly – meet tasty sharing plates, and vegetarian and gluten-free choices. The new wine list features treats from around the South Island. Perfect for functions and quiz nights, Marty says the Trevinos community and sports sponsorships continue. 


Find Elmwood Trading Company at 1 Normans Road.


Crisp Café

The Perfect Place: Crisp Café

Crisp Café ticks all the boxes when it comes to food, service, vibe and that all important parking question.


Crisp Café


With an enormous shopping carpark to pull into, no steps to have to negotiate prams or wheelchairs and seating for 70, this is the perfect venue to catch up with friends, hold business meetings or reserve a table for that special occasion.

“Over half of our products are gluten free, as is our cabinet food,” owners Sue and Nick Leadbeater say. “Most of our menu can be adapted to gluten free as we’re fortunate to have a gluten free chef!”
Everything is made onsite. “Homemade food prepared with love can’t be beaten,” Nick says.

They serve Underground Coffee, with milk options covering everything from dairy through to almond, soy and coconut. New menu items feature burgers, nachos, seasonal soups and the popular fishermen’s basket. Children also have a new menu to get excited about, while the bagel and toastie menu has been revamped.

Renowned for their tasty, tummy-filling all-day breakfasts that warm the cockles and fire up all the cylinders, it’s no wonder patrons flock here – in droves. Make sure to check out the wall art from Canterbury University’s fine art students; the artworks change regularly and are all for sale; and if you’re in need of a last-minute gift, browse the display stands of small but beautiful items for inspiration.


Find Crisp Café and Gifts at 376 Ilam Road, open 7am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 7:30pm to 4pm weekends, phone 03 351 4414.


The Monday Room

Escape from reality: The Monday Room

The most fabulous thing about dining at The Monday Room is that diners can revel in expecting the unexpected. With its raison d’être firmly focused on a shared degustation of food and wine, and featuring Trust the Chef and Trust the Somm options, patrons are assured of a gastronomic feast guaranteed to inspire conversation that would rival even the Mad Hatter at his most eloquent best.


The Monday Room



So, without further ado, let us meet the Trust the Chef(s) conjuring their culinary magic in this wonderland restaurant. Head Chef Eeva Torvinen and Sous Chef Annika Kiviniemi both hail from Finland, and it’s thanks to this dynamic duo, with their youth and passion for creating dishes that shake us out of our dining complacency, that we’re finally getting to experience food that excites and astounds.


The Monday Room

Torvinen says it was due to foraging in the forest for berries and mushrooms, and fishing with her father and grandfather that set her on her cooking career. A word Torvinen frequently uses is ‘technique’, such as in the techniques of curing, brining, pickling, smoking and sous vide (low temperature cooking, container cooking and pressurised enclosure cooking). “We seldom use spices other than salt because we believe the techniques we use add more flavour into ingredients.”


The Monday Room

Torvinen’s desire is to make The Monday Room the best eating establishment that she can; beyond that her want is simple: “I want to cook, create, learn more and explore, and maybe one day have a restaurant of my own.”  Now we turn to greet our Trust the Somm.

Malaysian-born Kiwi, Stephen Wong, was reading law at the University of Otago and, while working part time in cafés and as a DJ, was introduced to New Zealand wines. A move to Central Otago in 2000 found Stephen working in vineyards and rapidly progressing into hospitality.


The Monday Room

He began his first sommelier role after qualifying as a barrister and learnt on the job. Seven years on and Stephen had moved into consulting; Wine Sentience is his wine education and support business – it has been instrumental in keeping Wellington wine lists at the top of their game.

Stephen was recently made a Master of Wine, taking the number of MW’s in New Zealand to 12. When not educating or judging wine shows throughout Australasia, Stephen tutors Master of Wine students in the IMW Australasian Educational Seminar. Stephen says his greatest passion will always be around wine communication and training our future sommeliers to be the best they can possibly be.


These, then, are the trusted trio rocking The Monday Room; Alice begs you to bring along your Mad Hatter mates, and join her for a night of unrivalled revelry.

Location: 161 High Street