Blog: Girl About Town
You get used to taking the same routes to get around Christchurch, but the other day, I took a wrong turn and discovered all sorts of new things south of the CBD.
When you lose your landmarks and are instead staring at the fences and orange cones of an approaching cordon, it's best to stop and perform a U-turn before bothering the army sentry. But there were flashes of colour I saw, before heading away from Kilmore St, that had me convinced I needed a return trip to up Colombo St's southern end.
A brightly painted mural on the corner of Peterborough and Colombo St occupies the site where I'm sure we used to find a great wine bar... but the memories are fading far too quickly.
Today, it's a place where the Flying Cup serves coffee, and where a stuffed monkey hangs, almost disturbingly, off a rail in the corner.
Across the road, the pefect place to enjoy said coffee awaits. There are seats and a carefully laid out patio area begging for vistors. With the Central City library literally around the corner, I can see how a new book from the Peterborough street book shelves would be the perfect accompaniment to that coffee, served with a good dose of sunshine.
As the clock nears the much-anticipated stroke of 5pm on a Friday afternoon, thoughts wander to how best to celebrate the weekend. Care to do a bit of bar hopping?
If your choice of bar is driven by its beers, you are in luck, as Christchurch is churning out some brewing magic. The Brewery in Woolston is an easy choice, as is its counterpart CBD Bar, but there's also Volstead Trading Company, which prides itself on serving craft beer, at 55 Riccarton Rd. If it's a night-in you are after, The Twisted Hop's brewery shop at 7B Parkhouse Rd, Wigram, is filling the void left by the closure of Poplar Lanes.
Pomeroy's is a tried and true Christchurch establishment and it's still standing at 292 Kilmore St. It serves pub grub and a fine selection of beers, has a great atmosphere and shouldn't be overlooked simply because it hasn't gone anywhere.
For a spot of live entertainment, the obvious choice is Dux Live. Its gig guide is pretty chocka, and an upcoming highlight would have to be Christchurch band Op Shop taking the stage on October 4. The boys will be joined by comedian Brendhan Lovegrove, so you'll get to have a laugh with your Ginger Tom.
Revival Bar at 94 Victoria St is doing its bit to give musicians and DJs some practise, as is The Darkroom, with gigs Wednesday through to Saturday, most weeks. At 355 St Asaph St, The Darkroom is known for its vast selection of drinks, too, so it does tick a few boxes for a night out in the city.
Ah September, you bring us spring, sun and thunderstorms, and now, you promise to bring us so many new things to do in our city.
Today, St Martins New World opened its door. It's a huge event for locals, who have been desperately pining for their lost supermarket. I wonder if people have been trying new things in the mean time, like Countdown's online shopping. It's quite a good system, even if all you want to do is have someone else pack it and have it ready for you to pick up.
In another suburb coup, the site of The Good Life Café and Market is taking on a Christchurch newcomer. As of September 26, 153 Somerfield St will be Cortado, a restaurant, bar and café, heralding from Picton. It brings "European continental cuisine" to the corner and increases the options for a few quiets in Beckenham.
Another opening this month to celebrate is that of the St Asaph St Kitchen and Stray Dog Bar. Le Café owner James Jameson is one of the key players in this new venture, setting up at 236 St Asaph St. It will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a pew for all those wishing to have a pint or two. Definitely looking forward to hearing more details of the menu and concept. Any day now...
The first hotel to reopen in the city centre post-quakes is having a grand soiree with dignitaries to boot, on September 27. The Christchurch Ibis, at 107 Hereford St, received minor damage but has renovated all of its rooms and public areas, and added more structural strengthening just to be sure. With it back on track, we have another restaurant to visit - Oopen Pasta & Grill. No, that's not a spelling mistake, the Oopen restaurants seem to be attached to all Ibis's, which does make you wonder if the mistake was so big it could not be corrected.
This weekend's lesson was not to leave booking a table to the last minute.
When we decided we should go out for lunch on Sunday, for Father's Day, it didn't seem a big deal. It wouldn't be hard to book a table, surely.
I started with cafés and restaurants to the south of the city, between town and our rural home. My Dad likes Rossendale Restaurant (136 Tai Tapu Rd), and they had two times available for our party of three and a half. Done. Not quite ... it turned out they were offering a set menu, costing either $40 or $48, and we weren't that hungry.
Sticking to the Tai Tapu, I phoned Raspberry Cafe (40 Rhodes Rd) and its answer machine told me they were completely booked. Not too disheartened, I tried The Packingshed Cafe, at 161 Early Valley Rd. Its two available times did not suit either - we couldn't make the first without breaking the land-speed record, and the second was too late to start a leisurely lunch. Even the Blue Duck Café in Motukarara couldn't offer us a seat before 2pm. Word of its new owners and chef (ex-Tiffany's) must have reached the masses.
I put in a call to Strawberry Fare, not even sure it took bookings, but it does for lunch at its park-view spot at Carlton Mill. Too many people had bet me to the punch, again. What about its counterpart, Café Métro? Success. Finally, we had an option, as the cabinet food and the fact you couldn't book at this cafe on Papanui Rd, meant it was possible we could squeeze in for a bite. Joe's Garage in Upper Riccarton doesn't take bookings for groups of less than 15, so I had two options up my sleeve.
When one of my closest friends came down to Christchurch, it was a chance to show off our new city.
We approached the city from the south, slowing down to take in the new and improved end of Lincoln Rd, offering more than great coffee. Like a professional tour guide, I pointed out The Pedal Pusher on the right, describing it as the sort of place ideal of afterwork drinks or pre-theatre dining. Lincoln Rd stalwart Addington Coffee Co-op was given a friendly wave and I mentioned how it had a revampt a few months ago and now boasts a neat wee shop with Trade Aid products and more. I don't think she saw Mosaic by Simo, tucked away in the "Addington Mall", but she couldn't remember it Simo's Moroccan restaurant in Cashel St anyway.
We scooted down the no-exit street that leads to The Court Theatre so I could show her what we Cantabs can do with four firm walls. I went to my first show there a week ago and was very impressed with both the venue and the performance. If my friend was staying longer, I would have sent her along to Man In A Suitcase, in the hope she would be as entertained as I was.
From Bernard St, it was back onto Lincoln Rd, for a game of "what was that?" along Moorhouse Ave and an update on the demolition of the Science Alive building.
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