Review: Joe's Garage

JOE'S GARAGE: When the air is noisy and the portions are generous.
JOE'S GARAGE: When the air is noisy and the portions are generous.

Don't come here for a quiet contemplative meal. If its Sunday morning when you make the decision to lunch out don't bother to book.

Believe it when they say "we're so busy we can't take bookings but come in anyway. You won't have to wait too long before we find you a table".

But did three youngsters, a mummy, and a granny want to perch on the high stools outside? "Yes!" say the under 12's as they eye up the interesting-looking people in the sun. A couple of blokes give up their sunny seats so we can sit as a group but we only have time to read the menu before the magic phrase 'we have a table for you inside,' sees us trooping into the boisterous interior.

It's crowded. Noisy. Platters of Joe's famous chips are held aloft nestling into breakfast eggs, lunchtime burgers, and big meaty dishes - schnitzel mostly but steak and salad also seem popular. Beers are the bevvie of choice. The wine list offers some good by the glass options though, including a fine Astrolabe sauvignon blanc - a mellow savvie that's good company with eggs, smoked salmon and hollandaise. Maybe not the hollandaise Julia Child would have composed but this industrial clattery setting with a kitchen at full steam and staff edging quickly between bar-like counters and motley chair and table settings is a world away from a Paris bistro.

If asked to sum up this Joe's Garage in a word I'd say, "Generous". The vibe is good, the menu matches the mood, staff are swift and helpful. They know the menu too. Hardly surprising given it is a permanent document with the only differences* scrawled on blackboards dotting the walls, but too often in this new Christchurch, customer queries are met with "sorry, don't know".

It might seem ridiculous to go to some lengths to plate up the food with style when the menu is focused on short order style, but praise where praise is due. Like the little pots of sour cream and onion jam for the beef dishes, rather than the too often obligatory tomato sauce. It suggests the kitchen has put thought to matching condiment with mains as well as dressing the plates. Our order runs the gamut: eggs with salmon and hollandaise, chicken burger, beef burger and generous bacon, lettuce and tomato stuffed crisp bread rolls.

Desserts and kids are always a good combo and judging by the appreciative slurps the ice cream and cream and chocolate options were a success. Couldn't have been easier but what the servings lost in originality they made up for in generosity.

Could be that is what Joe's Garage Riccarton is all about.

*Clever Trevor shouted the blackboard. 'Mince on ciabatta with an egg and cheese. $16.80'.


Where: 7 Leslie St Riccarton

When: Daily from 7am

What: Breakfast/brunch/lunch. Dinner from 5pm

Cost: Beef burger 17.80, chicken burger 19.80, banana split 10.00, (glass) Astrolabe sauvignon blanc 9.50

Upside: WYSIWYG and it's good

Downside: Chair leg scream. (Note to owners, you might consider buying cork pads for chair legs.)

The Press