Posts Tagged ‘restaurants’

Our celebratory day was completed with dinner at our favourite Venuti restaurant.  The last time we went there we were able to park right outside, but not this time!  The Town Hall has re-opened, and there were crowds of people making their way to a concert with Kris Kristofferson.  We found a park around the corner on the old Conventions Centre site.

To our surprise Venuti was only half full.  Things have certainly changed now there are so many more dining options, but their standard of food is still high.  I had Veal Funghetto (ignoring the fate of bobby calves) while Stephen chose Chicken Parmigiana.

Dining at Venuti

We thoroughly enjoyed our meals, finished by sharing a portion of Venuti’s legendary Tiramisu, and went home well satisfied.

Our dinner always is a beauty
at favourite restaurant Venuti

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We thoroughly enjoyed our five-course degustation dinner at Baretta.  At $39 each it was excellent value.  The small plates were beautifully presented and extremely tasty.

The ambiance was elegant and attractive.  Our five courses were: Cauliflower and bacon soup; pulled pork croquettes with horseradish cream; prawn and swordfish bouillabaisse; lamb rump on pumpkin puree with red wine jus; cookies and cream bavarois.  Doesn’t it all sound delicious?  Although the restaurant is promoted as being Italian, what we ate was more classic European.  We’ve had a degustation meal before and we love it.  No need to make any decisions, and five small plates are more than enough to satisfy.  On Tuesday evening we were one of just three couples dining, and there were no later bookings.  I do wonder how even a restaurant as good as this can survive in central Christchurch at present.  We will certainly go there again.

It would be hard to find a better
meal than this one at Baretta.

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To celebrate Stephen’s birthday we dined at Tutto Bene in Merivale, somewhere we hadn’t been before.  Our usual Italian restaurant of choice is Venuti, but we thought we’d try somewhere different, and Tutto Bene definitely has that genuine Italian flavour.  They have some parking available behind the restaurant, but that was full, and we were pleased to find a spot on Mansfield Avenue.

Stephen enjoying Veal Parmigiana

We sat outside in their leafy courtyard, at a good-sized table.  So often a table for two is small and cramped, but not here.  We shared a dish of olives, then Stephen had Veal Parmigiana and I had fresh groper served on a cauliflower puree.  Both meals were delicious.  By coincidence a group of us had been discussing the fate of bobby calves the previous evening, and remarked that you don’t see veal for sale these days.  Perhaps it all goes to restaurants?  Stephen couldn’t quite finish his generous portion, but still managed to share some of my decadent chocolate cake dessert.  I had a bottle of limonata, which I’d last enjoyed in Rome.  The staff were pleasant and friendly and we appreciated the fact that there were several small children dining with their families.  A group at a table near us  were also celebrating a birthday, and as their cake was delivered the staff joined with them to sing “Happy Birthday” – a extra bonus for Stephen.

After we’d finished we left through the back entrance which borders onto the St Albans Stream, and found the restaurant manager feeding the local ducks.  There were also healthy eels in the stream and a friendly cat on the bridge.  All in all, a most enjoyable evening.  Many thanks to the distant daughter who shouted this birthday treat.

Stream behind Tutto Bene

We recommend this restaurant
when it’s a special meal you want.



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Oriental Eating

We’ve recently dined at two different Chinese restaurants.  A week ago we were part of a large group at Daphne’s Chinese Restaurant in Church Corner.  The food was delicious.  Our table of nine chose to have the set menu which was excellent value at $25 per head.  A lazy susan in the centre of the table meant everyone got a chance to taste the different dishes.

On Friday we were booked to go to “Wicked” at the Isaac Theatre Royal, and chose to eat beforehand at the nearby Sampan Noodle House.  This is an old favourite, always good for a cheap meal.  We arrived just after 6pm, and were at the theatre by 7.20pm.  I chose Stir-fried squid with vegetables and black bean sauce.  The vegetables included my favourite mushrooms and caulifower, and the dish was substantial with no need for additional rice or noodles.

Our Sampan dinners

Our two mains (Stephen had pork fried rice), plus a beer and a cider came to $50.50.  We could have had a banquet for $23 each, and may try this another time, although we might not need the tea/coffee and icecream sundae.  Our dessert on this occasi0n was an icecream in the interval of the show.

“To find a meal that’s sure to please
at modest cost, just try Chinese.”

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An old friend from Auckland was in town briefly, so four of us had dinner at the Carlton.

This pub, which has been completely rebuilt since the earthquakes, was the first in New Zealand to serve beer on tap and the first to have a beer garden.  Almost all the other diners were men.  Is this because the Carlton specialises in steaks?

Di and I have been friends since the early 1970s, and it’s very rarely I spend time with someone I’ve known that long.

“It’s great when an old friend appears
someone I’ve known for forty years.”


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Last night we dined at Clink in Sumner.  The building with its old stone walls is reputed to have been a prison for mutineers early in the 19th century – hence the restaurant name.

We had the five course ‘Trust the Chef’ dining experience.  Usually $65 per person, I’d bought a Grab One voucher which gave us two experiences for $65.  I liked the idea of surprises and not having to make decisions.  The five small courses were superb, and beautifully presented.  Paying the full price would be beyond our modest budget, and we were delighted with the value we got.  They had Guiness on tap for Stephen, and I enjoyed an Aspall’s cyder.  This is certainly somewhere we’d come for a special occasion.

“Five luscious courses and a drink
we certainly dined well at Clink.”

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We chose Chopped for breakfast today.   This cafe is a reincarnation of Tequila Mockingbird in Victoria Street.  There was only one other customer in sight when we entered at 8.30am.  The menu has plenty of options and the prices are reasonable.  Stephen chose Eggs Benny and I had the Brisket Hash.

I enjoyed the roast veges, hash, and poached egg, but found the brisket just a little too spicy.  I was later very thirsty, so there must have been too much salt as well.  I’m inclined to be more sensitive to this than most people as I don’t eat much salt.  My preference would have been for more veges and less brisket, but it was a good meal.  The service was attentive.  When Stephen dropped a knife, the waiter was immediately there with a replacement.   He also took the trouble to take our photo twice, trying to avoid the sunshine.  My Earl Grey tea came with a slice of lemon, in a very thick mug.  I do prefer bone china!

One wall has a mural of large knives, illustrating the cafe name.  When we paid I noticed the tip jar was labelled ‘help us to pay our parking fines’.  It must be very difficult for staff in the Victoria Street area to find parking.

As we left we discovered another area out the back with several tables occupied.  This is actually the ‘Staff only’ cafe which I’d read about.  The Montreal Street entrance is quite anonymous, but handy for us as we were parked there.

“To choose the brisket could be dicey
unless you like your food quite spicy.”

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We’d often wondered about Indian Sumner, and now they’ve opened a new restaurant in the central city we were keen to try them.  They’re in Manchester Street, currently in the middle of roadworks, and it was pouring with rain on the evening we chose, but negotiating the obstacle course was worth while.

It was good to find that our favourite Tandoori Mushrooms were offered as an entree, which we shared.  Stephen chose the Lamb Rogan Josh, while I had the Lamb Jalfrezie, both very nicely cooked and presented.

Together with naan, beer, and cider, the cost was $73.50 which seems reasonable.   Himalayas is still our favourite Indian Restaurant but we will probably visit Indian Sumner again.  I hope people will support them, especially while the roadworks make getting there a challenge.

“Good Indian food in CBD
rewards the road’s difficulty.”


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Stephen’s birthday called for a special dinner, and we went to Strawberry Fare.  It might have been best to check out parking beforehand, as it’s not the easiest place to approach from Bealey Avenue, but we managed.  The upstairs dining room has a lovely view of trees.

Stephen had Cassoulet, which he loves, and I had a most delicious pan fried groper with slow roasted tomatoes.  Then we needed to choose desserts.  These are what Strawberry Fare was originally famous for, and it wasn’t an easy choice.  Eventually I settled on Warm Raspberry Drenched chocolate cake, and Stephen had Devil’s Dream.  A young boy at a nearby table also had the Devil’s Dream.  It must have been his birthday because his dessert came with a lighted candle.  I offered to ask for this for Stephen, but he declined.

Dessert at Strawberry Fare

Dessert at Strawberry Fare

There were a number of tables filled by young women meeting just for desserts.  In several cases I saw uneaten remains being wrapped for taking home, but we managed to finish all of ours.

“Delicious food at Strawberry Fare.
Desserts are well beyond compare.”



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We brunched at the new cafe on the corner of Madras and Armagh Streets.  At the bottom of a large apartment block, Table at Monks has an attractive black and white theme, and a view of the top of the Margaret Mahy playground.  I was tempted to choose their crepes (not pancakes – hurrah!) or mushroom bruschetta, and eventually settled for grilled minute steak with roast vegetables.  Stephen had the frittata.

Brunch at Table at Monks

Brunch at Table at Monks

All this was elegantly served in black and white dishes, and very tasty.  I loved the small green teapot (with tea leaves, and weak as requested) on a green trivet.  It looked ideal for a tea ceremony.  There were only two other tables occupied at 10 on a Sunday morning, but I expect it will be popular later on.  They’re open until 4pm seven days.

While we there a car pulled up alongside, and the driver had purple hair.  The car was one of the latest Fiats, with eyelashes on its headlamps.  Obviously this was a woman of excellent taste.

“I loved the little green teapot
and the tea-leaved weak tea I got.”

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