Cafe chat: A taste of Canterbury at Gatherings

Chef Alex Davies has opened plant-based restaurant Gatherings.
MARC WILSON

Chef Alex Davies has opened plant-based restaurant Gatherings.

A taste of Canterbury is now being lovingly served to diners at Gatherings. The new restaurant, at the rebuilt Carlton Courts, is all about sustainable, seasonal and hyperlocal plant-based food.

It's the creation of innovative chef Alex Davies, who's on a mission to share his deep passion for real, local food with Christchurch. 

Prior to opening Gatherings, Davies worked at an organic vegetable farm in Swannanoa for a year to learn about sustainable food systems. He now sources all of the restaurant's fresh produce from that farm, and the rest of its food comes from around Canterbury. 

Alex Davies is on a mission to share his deep passion for local food with Christchurch.
MARC WILSON

Alex Davies is on a mission to share his deep passion for local food with Christchurch.

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"I want people to realise there is a huge diversity of food here in Canterbury and to celebrate it. We don't need to import food, we have a huge range at our fingertips," Davies explains.   

Gatherings is in the Carlton Courts building on the corner of Bealey Ave and Papanui Rd.
STACY SQUIRES/FAIRFAX NZ

Gatherings is in the Carlton Courts building on the corner of Bealey Ave and Papanui Rd.

"It is important we take responsibility for our planet. As guardians of the planet it's vital we think about its longevity. This isn't a hippie movement, but something that feels right."  

Things are done a little differently at this small 25-seat restaurant. Dinner is a set menu offering five courses for $50. The menu changes with the seasons and according to produce availability. For those after a taster there's smaller platters and a lunch menu. 

Through the food he hopes to show people that healthy, plant-based meals can be delicious, innovative and exciting. Gatherings' own range of living wines will be launched later in the year. Living wines use natural yeast that contains live microorganisms which are good for the digestive systems and give the wine full flavour. Open Wednesday to Saturday for lunch, dinner and happy hour. Visit gatherings.co.nz for more info and to make a booking. 

Hotcakes adorned with fruit and flowers at Uncommon cafe.
NATASHA ROONEY

Hotcakes adorned with fruit and flowers at Uncommon cafe.

A slice of Melbourne 
Melbourne inspired cafe, Uncommon, opened at 262 Tuam St last week, two doors down from C4 Coffee. It's run by young, ambitious Kiwi couple Natasha Rooney and chef Scott O'Driscoll, who recently returned to New Zealand after working in Melbourne for five years. While overseas, O'Driscoll worked under celebrity chef Shannon Bennett at the fine dining restaurant Vue de monde.

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"The cafe scene in Melbourne is just amazing, the dream was to come home and open a Melbourne style cafe. We saw a gap in the Christchurch market and went for it," Rooney says. Uncommon's menu reflects O'Driscoll's fine dining experience, "everything is presented beautifully with a lot of detail." The cafe itself is clean and crisp as not to distract from the the dining experience. Open for brunch and lunch 7am to 4pm. 

Mad about doughnuts
Rachel Savage started making doughnuts a couple of years ago as a hobby and quickly became "fixated". The Banks Peninsula mum perfected the art of the sweet carb-loaded treat before shifting her focus to the ultimate goal of owning a food truck business. Savage spent the majority of 2016 converting an Airstream caravan into a doughnut kitchen. The Sweet and Savage caravan opened for business late last year. It sells fresh, handmade doughnuts and coffee. "What more do you need, the pair are best friends," Savage laughs. Its doughnuts are much more than the ordinary, with flavours like white chocolate, strawberry and hazelnut, or lime and coconut. The caravan was parked in Akaroa's Jubilee Park during the summer, but this month would be visiting local festivals. Check out its Facebook page for locations. 

The fresh handmade doughnuts include flavours like white chocolate, strawberry and hazelnut.
PETA MAZEY

The fresh handmade doughnuts include flavours like white chocolate, strawberry and hazelnut.

Food the focus at festival
Music and food promises to draw thousands to the Nostalgia Festival this Saturday at Ferrymead Heritage Park. The vintage festival combines food, wine and beer with New Zealand's top indie artists. Local chefs, brewers and producers who have an emphasis on sustainable and organic food will be dotted around the 1900s replica town centre serving their culinary creations. New Brighton wholefoods eatery BearLion Foods is part of the foodie lineup. It's making big batches of its well known salads and sell-out lemon meringue pies for hungry festival goers. 

The Nostalgia Festival is back in Christchurch for 2017.
SUPPLIED

The Nostalgia Festival is back in Christchurch for 2017.

 - Stuff

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