Archive for the ‘Cafes & Restaurants’ Category

This week I had early morning appointments at two different hospitals on two consecutive days.

On Tuesday I needed to be at St George’s Eye Clinic at 8am for an assessment of my second cataract. I had a similar assessment at Christchurch Public last August, but Covid meant the operation never happened, and I was happy to be transferred to St George’s where parking is easier. While my eyes were thoroughly examined Stephen enjoyed a late breakfast of bacon and egg pie fresh from the oven in the hospital cafe. My cataract operation is now scheduled for mid May.

Yesterday I was booked at Burwood Hospital to have the excision of a nodule on my right index finger. This was a soft tissue lump which had been annoying but not painful for some months.

Lump on finger

At Burwood there is plenty of parking on open ground and we arrived at 8,30am as instructed. It was another hour with form filling before I was admitted and Stephen went off to the cafe – only a cold sandwich this time.

I was given a Covid RAT test, the first I’ve had, and after this proved negative the surgeon came to inject local anaesthetic with the longest needle I’ve ever experienced. At 10.30 I was told my operation would be in 20 minutes, but in fact it was 11.30am before I went to theatre with a gown over my clothes and covers on my shoes.

I was impressed that the surgeon introduced each of the group of four nurses and two medical students (Burwood is a teaching hospital), and chatted about his personal life. The whole atmosphere was efficient and relaxed. It did seem a little strange to be lying on an operating table while fully awake. The lump removed resembled a chickpea. I was not invited to take it home because it has to go to the lab to be analysed. Before the operation my blood pressure was 153/96, but afterwards it had returned to a healthier 135/79.

Lump gone and finger dressed

While I was recovering with a cup of tea and biscuit someone kindly fetched Stephen. The nurse discharging me recognised him and it turned out she had cared for him at St George’s twenty years ago when he had a heart valve replacement.

With my arm in a sling I was grateful to have Stephen ministering to any need, and I napped for a couple of hours in the afternoon. I’d taken a Patricia Wentworth murder mystery to the hospital for the waiting times – a small volume that fitted easily into my handbag – and I finished it before I went to bed. As instructed I took a codeine tablet and slept soundly.

The sling is supposed to stay on for three days, and the dressing for four weeks, so life is somewhat constricted. I’m reminded of the time in 1985 when I broke bones in my right hand and had my arm in traction plaster for six weeks. Typing on the computer is possible but challenging with only one hand. No exercises for me today, I may just go for a short walk, then settle down with the Listener.

A small wound in Ziggy’s ear appears to be infected, so he now has a hospital appointment for tomorrow morning. We’re just hoping Stephen stays healthy!

Health’s been the focus of this week
with me at less than prime physique

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There’s lots to see and do in Ashburton. At the 24 hour service station I bought two copies of the “Press” – to have one each to read and do puzzles was a holiday treat. After breakfast at Somerset Grocery we visited Trott’s Community Garden, a N.Z. Garden of International Significance.

Breakfast @ Somerset Grocery

The weather was perfect for this with autumn sun and no wind. There were pigeons and fantails flying free, and an aviary with pheasants and budgies. The garden was established in 1984 by the Trott family, taken over by a charitable trust in 2017, and is now maintained by volunteers. Many of the vistas were superb, even if there were few flowers at this time of year.

Long perennial border
Garden Chapel
Knot garden

I wanted to visit the N.Z. Sock Company in Ashburton, but this wasn’t easy to find (lacking a GPS). The street it’s in is divided by a square and later by the railway line. We were pleased to buy NZ made merino socks, and as there was a Warehouse next door I also replaced my printer cartridges, which now cost far more than I originally paid for the printer.

We browsed all five of the Ashburton op shops, where we bought a couple of jigsaws for me, and a cookbook for Stephen. I realised we hadn’t seen any postcards, and eventually found a postcard stand at Paper Plus, where there were cards of Timaru, Mt Hutt, and Methven, but none of Ashburton. The shop assistant said they hadn’t seen the postcard rep for a long time, and I presume there’s less demand with no international tourists.

Dinner was at Kelly’s Irish Café and Bar, the first time I’ve been in a pub for many months. Stephen was pleased to be able to have a Guinness, and we were intrigued to see the tap had a harp attachment.

Kelly’s Irish Café & Bar

They had a digital jukebox, on the wall beside Stephen’s chair, something we’ve not seen before. He couldn’t find anything familiar on it and we wouldn’t have been able to hear it anyway as there was so much laughing and talking going on. Sky Sports was showing on the TV and we realised it was Dan Carter doing his Kickathon.

When we left trees along the main street were lit with fairy lights, and a mural was also illuminated.

Ashburton mural at night

To see the garden made by Trotts
one can’t help but admire the plots

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Christine and I decided this morning we would walk into town and try to find those of the murals from the Flare Festival which Stephen and I had missed last week. Down Manchester Street we found a display for Slap City, a recent Paste-up and Sticker Festival which I hadn’t known about.

Slap City display

Murals which had been only partly painted last week were now complete, and we were delighted to find this giant cat mural by Swiftmantis. It’s actually right outside the part of the Little High Eatery where Stephen and I had lunch last week, but we’d missed it. A passing woman kindly took our picture holding the cat’s paws.

Giant cat mural

Round the corner we found a 2019 mural by DCypher and OiYou showing local historical scenes including the McKenzie and Willis building, all painted as a negative film strip.

McKenzie & Willis building

By this time we needed refreshment and stopped at Lemon Tree for morning tea. This café is an old favourite and while the ambience inside is fascinating, I prefer to sit outside these days as a Covid precaution. (We got a passing dog walker to take our photo.)

Ruth & Christine at Lemon Tree

We found a further Flare mural at 87 Manchester Street but weren’t sure just what this one was supposed to be. I discovered later it is by Ikarus and shows an eclectic array of video games and cartoon characters.

Mural at 87 Manchester Street

Another Flare mural was at 198 St Asaph Street, painted by Meep, a local artist:

Mural @ 198 St Asaph Street

Heading down Colombo Street we had a chance to enjoy the bird mural on the South Frame which I’d often seen from the car, but not been close to before:

Bird mural

Near this was a portrait of Sir Ernest Rutherford by Jacob Yikes, DCypher, and Ikarus, which is part of the Flare Festival.

Sir Ernest Rutherford

So much to see on city walls
great street art work that just enthralls

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Today we set out to see the Flare Ōtautahi Street Art Festival, but it wasn’t easy to find. I’d downloaded a map from their website, but it doesn’t clearly show where the new murals are to be. The festival runs 2-12 March, and some of the works are still in progress, like this one we found on the site of the old Excelsior Hotel.

Mural in progress

We decided to stop for lunch at Little High Eatery. It seems to still be busy, with plenty of space for physically distanced seating. We chose the Latin Kitchen and Bar which has a rather cluttered appearance.

Latin Kitchen and Bar

I selected Lomo Saltado, a Peruvian dish, with beef, onion, tomato, capsicum, and rice. I found it rather salty, and Stephen suggested the name might be a clue to that, but in fact the name just means sautéed beef. Luckily there was plenty of water available.

Beside the Eatery we found this mural:

A good message for today

We walked round the back of the replacement Billens Building, and discovered another artwork. I particularity liked the Molotov crayon.

Mural behind Billens

The facade of the Cotters Building at 158 High Street had been restored, and a new building added. This has a mural on its side, rather fearsome warriors flanked by lotuses.

Side of Cotter’s building

I understand one artist in the Flare Festival is known for drawing giant cats, but we didn’t see any. Maybe we’ll look again later. (Afternote: you can find street addresses for the artworks here.)

It’s great to have this new street art
to brighten up the city’s heart

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The Great India

It had been raining for a day and a half. My beach walk was cancelled and Stephen suggested we go somewhere for coffee as an antidote to cabin fever. I wasn’t keen to go inside anywhere that might be crowded, but I had an inspiration and suggested we go to The Great India in Woodham Road for lunch.

The Great India

I’d been before with a group of women friends and knew they had a $12 lunch special. There was only one other couple there, and we were easily able to be physically distanced, with Hindi music playing gently in the background. Stephen had Chicken Tikka Masala and I chose Chicken Jalfrezi.

We were given warmed plates – always the sign of a good restaurant – and our meals were delicious, mine generously laced with capsicum, served with rice and freshly cooked naan.

Meals at The Great India

Stephen had an Elephant Beer, but I was content with water. The $12 special includes a can of soft drink, but the only available options were Coke and Fanta, so we declined this. The Great India offers free delivery within 4km and this is a service we may well avail ourselves of in the future, especially if we need to self-isolate.

We think this India is Great
for low-priced lunch on pre-warmed plate

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Despite being under the red traffic light we are still keen to support local hospitality businesses. Now that we are boostered and Omicron has not spread as fast as predicted, we thought it was safe to venture out yesterday morning. We chose to go to Child Sister, which is on Manchester Street, just across from the Margaret Mahy Family Playground, and there is free two hour parking nearby in Cambridge Terrace.

This cafe has been open for two and a half years and has proved popular. The inside was busy, with mainly young customers, but we were the only ones choosing to sit outside despite the mild weather. In these Covid days I think outside seating is most desirable.

I chose a double cheese scone with potato and chilli which they offered to toast, something I appreciate which seems to be more common now. The scone was delicious and I declined to share it with the importunate black-billed gull/tarāpuka who came asking. Stephen, who is a softer touch, offered a corner of his croissant and immediately the gull’s friends and relations swooped in, but soon left disappointed.

Child Sister is a good spot to people watch, and their food most acceptable.

A cafe that has seats outside
where drinks and good food coincide

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We are limiting our outings now that Omicron is here, but we needed to go out to celebrate Stephen’s birthday, and started with breakfast at Kin Bistro at Ballantynes. Ballantynes had been closed for the previous three days, having moved their annual sale online out of “an abundance of caution”. They have a staff member stationed at each of their six entrances checking that everyone is wearing a mask. The cost of this must add to their daily expenses and I wonder what, if any, profit they are making these days. The time for department stores has definitely passed and we are lucky that Ballantyne’s has managed to hold on and remain the anchor of the central city shopping area.

The bistro was quiet at just after 9am. The only other customers were two socially distanced single men, one engrossed in the Press and the other engrossed in his phone. I wondered whether they live centrally and frequently come there for a lonely breakfast. We savoured our poached eggs, mine with mushrooms, and Stephen’s with bacon and Cumberland sausage. It doesn’t seem right with Covid to ask a waiter to use my camera to take a photo, so I just snapped our meals.

Breakfast at Ballantyne’s

Afterwards we strolled down to Riverside Market to buy some cheese, then back to Scorpio Books where Stephen chose a Turkish cookbook as his birthday present.

In the evening we dined at Venuti in Colombo Street. They opened soon after the earthquakes and have long been a favourite. We were pleased to see four other groups of early diners – surely not bad for a Monday evening during a pandemic. Our chosen table was in the corner by the door, well away from anyone else. We finished our meal with a shared Tiramisu, absolutely my favourite dessert, and absolutely yummy.

Once was Tiramisu

On birthdays we choose to eat out
despite the virus that’s about

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We’d been to Dan’s Produce Market to get the mushrooms I’d forgotten on Friday and some cheap cherries ($5.99 a kilo). It was lunchtime and we thought we’d go to a café, then noticed Erawan Thai Restaurant on the corner of Hills and Shirley Roads. Outside there are two topiary elephants:

Topiary elephant

They offer a $15 lunch special, and I chose Pad Med Ma Muang, stir fried vegetables with cashew nuts and chicken.

Ruth lunching at Erawan Thai

We sat in an attractive outdoor area beside the Dudley Creek and watched people passing by on the walkway to Slater Street. Our meals were generous and tasty, and afterwards we browsed the nearby Salvation Army op shop, which had an inviting array of goods. I was tempted by a large glass punch bowl with cups and ladle for only $25, but where would I store it? It’s been many years since I’ve served punch, and not likely I will do so in the near future.

The Bakery and Cafe next to Erawan Thai has all its seating cordoned off and is operating for takeaways only. I wonder if this is because of fewer customers or because they can’t get sufficient staff?

So good to try new place for lunch
and we don’t have a need for punch

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It’s hard to find a restaurant open when you want to celebrate your birthday and the date is a public holiday. I yearn for the pre-earthquake days of the Octagon and its live music. We decided to go to Salt on the Pier at New Brighton, where we’d not been before, and it was a good choice. From the first floor the view is spectacular. You see the children’s playground, and the new hot pools/He Puna Taimoana, as well as sea and surf. There was a kaleidoscope of people on the nearby promenade and flocks of seagulls soaring in the air.

It’s just as well there was plenty to observe and comment on, because the service was slow. Perhaps they have difficulty recruiting sufficient staff in these uncertain times? The menu was a standard one and I was happy to have the Catch of the Day which was John Dory. I forgot to ask the busy waiter to take our photo, so attempted a selfie – not very successfully – and never thought to snap the view outside which might have made a more attractive illustration.

Selfie @ Salt on the Pier

We didn’t bother to wait for dessert, but went home and savoured some birthday chocolates – Marich Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels, most enjoyable!

‘Twas good to eat at somewhere new
which had a magnificent view

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Seeking somewhere different to go for morning tea we decided on The Tannery. It’s well over a year since we’ve been there, and it is definitely the most elegant shopping area in Christchurch. Just after 10am there were plenty of car parks available, with several chargers for electric vehicles, and most of the shops were open, despite the holidays. Many of them had signs saying Vaccine Passes not required, but I was surprised to find a couple of retail stores that did require passes. These were places where I might have browsed, but couldn’t be bothered when I needed to show a pass as well as sign in. The only thing I bought was a card at Cosi Fan Tutte.

We chose to stop at Penny Black Victorian Tearoom. It took a while for our order to arrive because staff were being careful to sanitise between each service, but we were happy to sit in the atrium and watch the passers-by.

Penny Black Victorian Tearoom

I chose to have a scone, which was served warm with a small jar of jam and a dish of cream – absolutely delicious. I was pleased to be asked whether I wanted cream and marshmallows on my hot chocolate, which I declined, and it was very good without these.

This place is ideal, for the ambience and the food, and we will go there again.

We really relished Penny Black
and are most likely to go back

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