Cafe chat: New bar beat its owner in the race to be voted best
It took a long time for OGB bar owner Nick Inkster to get under way in the Heritage Hotel building on Christchurch's Cathedral Square, but it was worth taking the time to get things right before he did when he won a triple dose of glory at the Christchurch Hospitality Awards.
Inkster's speakeasy-styled bar (short for Old Government Buildings) was voted best new establishment, Inkster was voted best emerging hospo professional and OGB won the supreme new talent of the year award.
Inkster found himself in the odd position of competing with and losing to his own bar for the supreme emerging talent award. He says with a laugh there's no hard feelings – "jealousy is a disease".
Asked why the bar has made such a big impact, he rattles off "right time, great location, beautiful old heritage building, keeping to a timeless theme, keeping it simple with great friendly service, live acoustic music most nights, quality drinks, nice glasses, simple sharing plates".
But he admits that staff are everything when it comes to a bar doing well.
"With a small bar like OGB, you can't afford to have staff members who are not friendly and inviting. I've picked a great multicultural crew who believe hospitality is a career path, not just a gap filler in their lives."
You can't get much more inner-city than Cathedral Square, but while the location is great, Inkster says it's also important to become a destination that people feel comfortable meeting in. "I haven't created a bar, I've created a meeting place that the people of Christchurch will hopefully enjoy."
A TASTE OF CATALONIA
Sumner foodies are getting a treat with the Cornershop Bistro's monthly Bistro Dinners that highlight a different cuisine from around the world. Next up on September 12 is Bistro Catalonia and dishes include Mar i Muntanya, a kind of Spanish surf 'n turf, and Carne en Salsa de Almendras – pork and paprika casserole with chickpeas and almonds. The Bistro's Kath Cross says for $58 diners get three-courses which includes shared plates to start, a choice of mains and a choice of desserts. The Bistro also offers wines and cocktails from Catalonia to match with the food. October's event on the 17th is Bistro Nordic where they delve into Scandinavian food.
AMBERLEY LOSES CAFE
Amberley's German Kompass Bakery and Cafe won't be re-opening after its winter break. It was supposed to be closed from July 19 to September 1 but the closure is now permanent. The problem was one of success – it was too difficult to find a replacement German baker after their usual baker needed to leave. He even postponed the departure twice. Owner Antje Vinke thanked her customers on Facebook and everyone who helped set up the bakery. "We had a lot of fun during the time and hope you did, too," she said.
HERE COMES EDO
Cookai Gold on Papanui Rd has been transformed into a new Japanese restaurant called Edo. The business has a new owner but the same restaurant team remains. That includes chef Toshi Uenosono, formerly of Sala Sala, and manager Mary Baycroft. Baycroft says along with the new name and look Edo brings an expanded and refined menu, so regular customers can expect some exciting changes. The name Edo refers to the Tokyo style of Japanese cooking and that's Toshi's style.
PADDOCK TO PLATE
Madison's Restaurant's second paddock to plate event will be held on September 15 and naturally has a spring theme. The $125 degustation menu features produce from Canterbury matched with wines from Waipara's Black Estate. The menu lineup looks stunning - check out this for the sweet ending: North Canterbury saffron and rosewater panna cotta, mint syrup, caramelised pistachio, crystallised rose petal. Madison's Restaurant is in the Heritage Hotel building in Cathedral Square.