Spring has sprung in Christchurch and the extra daylight hours are making it easier to catch up with friends over good food and wine. There are plenty of new dining spots around town and lots of mainstays worth revisiting. Whether you’re looking for somewhere for a lengthy lunch or an after work drink, here are some of the spots I’ll be frequenting this spring:
Tony Astle’s Universo Brasserie recently opened in the Christchurch Art Gallery. Making excellent use of the space (not to mention the floor-to-ceiling windows), the brasserie focuses on high quality food and impeccable drinks. At the moment, Universo is serving lunch and dinner; however, plans for brunch are in the works. The wine list is one you’d expect from Stealth Hospitality Group and the cocktail are incredible. The space itself is minimal and elegant, with bronze light fixtures and brown leather furnishings. Oh, and lots of plants. Astle wanted the place to be filled with floor to ceiling plants, to make the space feel like light and natural, like a greenhouse. The menu has a range of hearty favourites and enticing seafood options. The squid ink sliders are particularly noteworthy as is, the grouper ceviche. The extensive menu has something for everyone, which is ideal for an art gallery restaurant. There’s plenty of outdoor seating as well, so you may find yourself here on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Overlooking Worcester Street Boulevard, you really can’t go wrong at this soon-to-be local favourite.
Those looking for a bite to eat and a cheeky beverage in between shopping at The Crossing are now in luck. Fat Eddie’s, Kong and Original Sin are now open for business on The Terrace. Fat Eddie’s, a boisterous Christchurch institution, is always a good time. With live music and free-flowing drinks, it’s a great place for a drink and a boogie. Sibling establishments, Kong, a 1930s-themed cocktail bar and Original Sin, known for its small plates, are both worth a visit. Tamer than Fat Eddie’s, they are intimate spots for a well-crafted drink. Overlooking the Avon, you’ll want to grab a window seat and settle in for some people watching.
It’s always a treat strolling along picture-perfect New Regent Street, and Twenty Seven Steps is worth a visit. Consistently voted one of Christchurch’s best restaurants, this charming and relaxed venue serves rustic European cuisine. The menu changes with the seasons, so I’m looking forward to the superb local wines and fresh ingredients on offer this spring.
Inati, known for exquisite shared plates, offers a completely unique dining experience in Christchurch. While it appears intimate from the outside, the seating can actually feel a bit confronting as guests sit side-by-side in high stools facing the shiny bronze bar. Inati’s well-considered wine list means you’ll easily find a suitable red, wine or cheeky orange that perfectly complements your dinner.
Black Estate is my go-to for out-of-town wining and dining. Located in Waipara, this North Canterbury winery places just as much focus on local, seasonal food as it does wine. Waipara’s microclimate produces a vast range of wild foods and the menu is reflective of what’s in season. The award-winning vineyard is unpretentious and true to the region. The delicious food pairs perfectly with the organic, biodynamic wine.
South Town is quickly becoming Christchurch’s must-visit neighbourhood. Welles Street has transformed from industrial and desolate to one of the coolest streets in the city. Stop by Welles Street throughout the day for Mediterranean and Greek-inspired fare. Be sure to try the souvlaki and baklava soft serve. The spaciously sleek beer hall is characterised by high ceilings, forest green subway tile counters and plenty of seating. Striking the perfect balance between indoor and outdoor flow, the bar and eatery is sure to become Christchurch’s favourite summer spot. It’s an industrial warehouse in the middle of Christchurch city, and you’ll need to experience it for yourself.
So, whether you’re after something in the revitalised central city or something further afield, Christchurch is having a bit of a culinary moment. There’s no doubt about it, the city is coming alive with new must-try restaurants and bars. We’d love to hear all about your current hot spots.