A venture through the tunnel reveals a unique spot for a Sunday lunch in Lyttelton. We'd heard rumours of a specialist vegetarian cafe that opens on to Lyttelton's new community rendezvous, Albion Square, and were keen to give it a whirl.
We are meat eaters and our first impression of The Shroom Room's menu is that it's extensive and we don't struggle to find something on the breakfast menu (served until 3pm daily) for lunch.
The list of smoothies and milkshakes is long and creative, and followed by chocolate-inspired thickshakes - Whittakers, Reeces Pieces and Toffee Pops. We opt for the Bees' Knees (banana, cinnamon and honey) and a vanilla milkshake. Glasses are large and quickly emptied.
From the breakfast menu, we choose the Gangsta Breakfast - housemade walnut and parmesan sausage, grilled tomato, 'shrooms, hash, poached eggs, wholegrain toast and a good dousing of hollandaise sauce. The Bless Up Breakfast comes with chunky (almost Spanish-style) chips, homemade smoked beans, grilled tomato, 'shrooms, toast, salsa and avocado.
A lively chef who delivers the dishes asks if we are vegan or vegetarian and when we answer "no" to both, he is equally surprised and grateful, thanking us for giving it a go. Dishes are large and difficult to finish. The highlights are definitely the chunky chips and smoked beans, which pack just the right amount of heat. Smothered in the salsa and paired with avocado, they are perfect.
There's definitely a quirky side to this cafe. As we sit in the outdoor area on mismatched chairs, we are completely sheltered. There is also a cosy indoor seating area, which doubles as a bar. It's modest but cool, too. The Shroom Room clearly doesn't take itself too seriously and the relaxed atmosphere mirrors that attitude. We give big thumbs up to the musterers' hut vibe, which pleasantly reminds us of a country cafe.
Which of these mountainbike tracks is your favourite?Related story: Five easy mountainbike tracks in Christchurch