Bar hopping: Joe's Garage

I know, even those folks willing to eat anything want choice, but put page upon page of food options in front of me and I get worried.

It's like a gentleman asking a lady he is courting if they should go to the cinema, or a play, or for a stroll in the park, or for a drink, or for dinner, or maybe even bowling.

Where's the assertion, the confidence? Places with menus should believe in their food. There should be a small selection of dishes, which means they can be freshly cooked and given the right amount of attention. Personally, I like my menus to be tighter than a Christchurch insurance company.

But drinks menus are different. Drinks don't need cooking or much prep, and the more choice, the better.

Joe's Garage is a confident little spot tucked away in the depths of Upper Riccarton. It offers a very tight food menu (good), but very few drinks options (not so good).

But to be fair to Joe, his garage isn't a fully fledged bar. It is an inviting hybrid of a cafe, bar and American diner.

Inside, it's warm, clean, and playfully decorated with wee toy cars strewn about. The spot lighting is dim, even with the occasional flash of light from flames erupting in the open kitchen. The courtyard, even in the depths of Christchurch's winter, is inviting - warm and cosy.

Students were drinking there on my visit - tucking into Heinekens before hitting the shots. But the cafe area was full of older, less gangly people, so it seems non-students like it too.

The drinks menu offered coffee, teas, smoothies - the usual really. But the alcoholic options are sparse. There were a few wines, a few Monteith's and Heineken tap beers, some bottles or cans (again Monteith's, also Tui, Tiger, Sol and Amstel), and some spirits.

Missing the daily Heineken happy two hours by moments, I had an Astrolobe sav from Marlborough ($9.50). Served in a wine glass minus a stem, it was a nice wine for a quiet mid-week drink, and later I had a can of Double Brown, a perfectly adequate beer at a ridiculously reasonable $5.50.

The food though was the real star. Joe's Garge menu is simple and confident. There are sandwiches, salads, burgers, chicken dishes, pork belly, chips . . .

I had a Teddy Best (no idea why the name) - an open chicken breast sandwich served with caramelised onions, tomato, mustard. Simple and tasty, and for $13, it was fantastic pub grub.

Joe's Garage? Great little spot.


7 Leslie St

Upper Riccarton Bar: Fully licensed, seven days a week, 7am to 11pm

Cafe: 7am until late

When it comes to menus, size matters.

The Press