Cafe changes menu for first time in 21 years

BIG CHANGES: Paul Clark of Zookeepers cafe in Invercargill, with a muttonbird plated up. The cafe is changing its menu for the first time in 21 years.
BIG CHANGES: Paul Clark of Zookeepers cafe in Invercargill, with a muttonbird plated up. The cafe is changing its menu for the first time in 21 years.

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but Paul Clark has his whole zoo howling along to a new tune.

Stalwart Invercargill cafe Zookeepers, arguably a southern cultural institution, has changed its menu after a staggering 21 years.

Gone are some - admittedly tired - old favourites, replaced by a zingy Mexican-Southland menu featuring chimichangas, salsa, swede, cheese rolls and muttonbird. Not all at the same time, of course.

It's been a wrench for Clark, who has been part of the Southland cafe scene for more than two decades.

"Now we're having the kids of the people that originally used to come in here and they're demanding new things."

People are more aware of different foods, thanks in part to television shows like Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules, Clark said.

"They're now aware of food, but Southlanders still want a lot on their plate."

Clark was initially reluctant to change his menu.

"I'm that old I just like to do the same thing all the time."

But over a few tequilas with Queenstown sushi chef Scott Murray, he became convinced, and a new menu was developed and, finally, launched this week - including a dish that will no doubt cause a flutter of interest: Eggs Shadbolt, featuring bubble and squeak and muttonbird.

It had already managed to absolutely thrill one customer, he said.

If the Mexican food becomes more popular, it may become a focus for the cafe, as there are no other Mexican restaurants in town.

"We'll go totally Mexico."

Possibly with muttonbird.

The Southland Times