Steakhouse food fit for a queen

KATE FRASER
Last updated 13:28 29/01/2014
Bloody Mary's
Stacy Squires/Fairfax NZ

BE QUICK: It has big booths but once word spreads it might be hard to find a table at Bloody Mary's.

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We really need to get out more. Like do lunch more often. It's all very well popping in and out of popup bars or settling down for a many-coursed dinner come nightfall, but as the old ones will tell you - "lunch is aye verra guid for the digestion". So fed up with sandwiches and sushi we have followed the rumours and sat ourselves down at Bloody Mary's. 1.05pm on a work day.

Bloody Mary's is not a cocktail bar per se although hearsay has it they mix a mean cocktail of the same name. It is a grill, or as host hotel Rydges puts it, a steakhouse.

First though, the backstory about bloody Mary. A daughter of King Henry VIII, she followed her brother Edward VI onto the throne and almost immediately set about reforming the, to her, mistaken parting from Rome. Clergy were questioned on their beliefs, bishops were murdered - or martyred if you like.

Bishop Hugh Latimer with Bishop Ridley was burnt at the stake in 1555 and Queen Mary picked up the sobriquet "bloody Mary".

All this is a tenuous leap for the name of a new Christchurch steak house but the doors open off Latimer Square and here we are.

There's a subterranean feel to the place with its black leather furnishings, oak timbers and shaded windows but on a warmer day we could have had a table outdoors facing the green sward. Today we seek warmth. Besides we like booth seating. Booths provide comfort and privacy and a table with enough room for plates as well as cutlery and glasses.

A dish - albeit served on a board so maybe dish is not the word - has an astoundingly polished presentation with cubes of grilled merino lamb on a skewer, a herby dressing and a veritable kitchen garden of a salad. More important than its looks though are the flavours. Astoundingly good as well. A side serving of broccoli and a bearnaise sauce might have been superfluous but no. All in all a good combination.

Another winner and another lamb dish rolled forth all style and sizzle on a long platter . Lamb croquettes to some might be Sunday lunch minced crumbed and fried but not at Bloody Mary's. A defining merino flavour, the meat ground to almost paste, the crumbs fine and crisp and any frying that went on must have been fast and furious; not a grease spot in sight. A skinny dish of roasted beetroot was also a sight to behold with crimson vegetable and creamy cheese all a glisten. Flavours a tad on the pedestrian side however.

Bloody Mary's is committed to a summer special menu highlighting the seven deadly sins and this being Tuesday (pride) we could have shared a bottle of pinot noir and a lamb dish of braised shoulder and a bill of $99 but there are other attractive options such as ora king salmon gravlax, garlic mussels or smoked mushroom burgers that come for one with no need to share. Besides a glass of wine is sufficient unto the day even if the wine list is lacking in by the glass options and the two whites ordered were over-chilled but as Queen Mary herself observed " perfection is not easy".

OK, I made that bit up but it doesn't matter what her majesty might have said, because this was a very good lunch. Go soon before the world and his mate find this place. It has big booths and big spaces but still . . .

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BLOODY MARY'S

Where: Rydges Latimer Hotel

30 Latimer Square Ph 379 6760

When: Daily 6am-10pm

What: A steakhouse (lamb and beef a speciality)

How much: Lamb skewers $25. Lamb croquettes $14. Vegetable sides $6 Montana Festival 250ml glass $14

Downside:Over-chilled wine

Upside: Excellent food

- The Press

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