Cafe chat: New Christchurch cafe secretly vegan

The Origin cafe opened last month in St Albans.
The Origin

The Origin cafe opened last month in St Albans.

A chance to capitalise on the growing popularity of vegetarian and vegan food, paired with Christchurch's appetite for new cafes was the motivation behind The Origin.

The newest cafe in St Albans, at 95 Westminster St, is owned and run by Ying Donnithorne, who has been vegan for much of her adult life.

Donnithorne is passionate about promoting healthy eating and explains she purposefully hasn't marketed the cafe vegan as she understands that it can be off putting to some people. Instead she describes it as "healthy eating" and takes great enjoyment from new customers who "come in and don't even notice there isn't diary or meat on the menu, and really enjoy their meal".

The Origin's pancakes on the breakfast menu.
The Origin

The Origin's pancakes on the breakfast menu.

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The menu is a unique blend of plant based foods with an Asian twist, thanks to Donnithorne's heritage. There's just four items on the breakfast menu including pancakes and scrambled tofu, and an equally dainty lunch menu, favouring a quality over quantity approach.

All of the food is made from scratch on site using a collection of recipes built up by Donnithorne and The Origin's staff, many of whom are also vegan. 

The Origin cafe has a Scandinavian style interior.
The Origin

The Origin cafe has a Scandinavian style interior.

The attractive Scandinavian style decor is pulling many first time visitors off the street and into the cafe's minimalist, white interior. "I wanted to create a pure, calm environment. I've received a lot of compliments on it. People often stay for a second tea or coffee to relax and enjoy the environment."

The Origin takes its tea and coffee very seriously. It micro-roasts its single origin beans in-house, while its tea is sourced from Zealong Tea Estate in Hamilton and extracted through a steam punk brewing machine.

BUDDING VEGE BUSINESS 

Vege grower Aimee Burton in the garden.
Tammie Grant

Vege grower Aimee Burton in the garden.

Fresh, local and spray-free vegetables are now being harvested by The Vege Plot, a small market garden based in Glentui, near Oxford.

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Aimee Burton is the young, green fingered gardener behind the business. It's Burton's first season growing vegetables for sale, having formerly worked in administration at an accounting firm.

"My hobby turned into something much larger when I realised I loved gardening more than accounting."

All of The Vege Plot's produce is spray-free and fresh.
Tammie Grant

All of The Vege Plot's produce is spray-free and fresh.

There's a small stall at the farm gate on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, but the main method for city dwellers to get their hands on the freshly picked goodness is by signing up to the weekly produce email, from there customers can place their order and pick up from several locations around town.​

There's a wide variety of interesting produce like scallopini squash, Easter egg radish and fennel, rarely seen on supermarket shelves. Plus there's recipes on the The Vege Plot website with ideas on how to prepare them. 

SMALL CAFE BIG ON COFFEE

Little Brews Espresso recently opened on the BNZ Centre's slick laneway.

Little Brews Espresso recently opened on the BNZ Centre's slick laneway.

For a coffee while on the run check out one of the central city's newest cafe's Little Brews Espresso located on the BNZ Centre's slick laneway, just off Hereford St.

With a small floor space, no larger than a shipping container, this cafe is made for grabbing a quick mid-morning caffeine hit with colleagues.

Little Brews was opened just before Christmas by Jo Lawler, who previously ran a mobile coffee cart in Hornby for six years.

Lawler always had a dream to own her own cafe and now having signed a 10-year lease of the store she jokes she's committed to her dream and in it for the long haul.

The good quality coffee is the star of the show here, but there's also a small selection of food from Pure Cafe that's clean, healthy and refined sugar free. This cafe isn't built for lingering, but if you do want a seat there's a communal table inside and extra seating in the laneway. 

FRENCH FARE ON THE MOVE

French restaurant St Germain, said goodbye to its home at the Heartland Hotel Cotswold in Papanui Rd last week in order to relocate to 255 St Asaph St.

The restaurant is reopening early next week at its new premises at the $50 million rebuilt McKenzie and Willis site between Tuam and High Sts in the innovation precinct.

The restaurant is run by French-born brothers and chefs Frederic, Vincent and Benjamin Berhault, and has been in business in Christchurch since 2008.

Fans of the bistro will recall that before the earthquakes the restaurant was in the Mayfair building in Worcester St, which has now been rebuilt.

 - Stuff

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