A strip mall off the north end of Cranford St is not the usual place I would look for a fine-dining experience but there we were, five hard-to-please Bramwells and one skeptical Sutherland.
Chillingworth Road opens with bar, coffee and casual dining area - decorated in quasi-industrial style - but we bypassed that and went down a narrow hallway to a chandelier- lit, silver-service dining area.
The joy of the Chillingworth Road menu is that it covers most tastes and does fine food well rather than clever food to the point of total incomprehension.
On the basis that some of us would not make it through to pudding if they had all three courses, we shared three entrees; a pork terrine, Akaroa salmon smoked with applewood, and a mixed-grain risotto.
Service was friendly and efficient, although "excellent" and "awesome" to acknowledge orders is not what we needed to hear. Or know.
To the main menu: the fish eaters had the choice of whole flounder with capers, currants and pine nuts, or the market fish of the day, in a buttery smoked-roe sauce.
Our die-hard carnivores selected (excellently and awesomely) the lamb rump with date puree; a beef fillet with beef-cheek cannelloni and a truffled mushroom salad; and the pork belly.
Plating was taken to an art form.
Word had obviously got around and the dining room was full that night with several large tables in. Despite this, all our food and drink orders arrived in a smooth and timely fashion and the acoustics are such we could hear each other easily.
Unlike some restaurants, Chillingworth Road did not falter at the all important pudding stage and the number of chocolate, sorbet and toffee creations had us wishing we had ordered one each rather than sharing again.
It seemed to me that it has been at least two decades since we have enjoyed such a consistently high standard of food served with such panache.
478 Cranford St (Papanui end)
Ph 352 7784
Dinner menu: entrees around $19; mains, a shade under $40; puddings, around $15
Wine list: Comprehensive
Go again: As often as I can
- The Press