The first word that springs to mind as you wander into Browsers Garden Cafe is oasis.
It, literally, is a cafe in a garden in the middle of a busy thoroughfare on one of Christchurch's busiest suburbs.
From the street, it looks like an innocuous house in the middle of a business area. But walk down the alley-type entrance and you find yourself in a garden-style setting. On one side, there is a row of bean bags, likely to be taken when the bar opens later that day.
But, for us, this is a Sunday lunch with the kids. We are here for the food and to see if this little surprise in Riccarton can deliver.
The cafe itself is an older-style house and it does have a homely feel to it. The counter is small and the display items very few, but the menu on the wall and in our hands tells us there is plenty of choice here.
It's a muggy day so we all choose a cold drink. I go for the iced coffee which contains "real" coffee and a dollop of cream. It's delicious. Two berry smoothies and an iced chocolate are also ordered pre-meal and arrive swiftly. The smoothie is delicious and full of fruity taste without being too tangy, while the iced chocolate is right up there, too.
After we order, we are given a small stone with hand-art on it instead of the usual number. It's a nice touch and something different that charms the kids. Zackery orders French toast with bacon and maple syrup, and some cinnamon yoghurt is a lovely add- on and gives the meal a real lift of flavour. Mandy picks focaccia bread with a combination of chicken, brie, avocado, tomato and lettuce.
It is an impressive, multi- layered meal that takes some eating but the combination of flavours offers a satisfying dish that is filling and memorable.
I look over the impressive menu list for a while before settling on a toasted bagel with bacon and cream cheese. I could have picked a variety of mouth-watering items and the menu is so impressive that I will be back again. My bagel is crispy and the bacon delicious. It's not the biggest meal but it's extremely tasty and satisfying.
The kids treat themselves to a caramel slice afterwards and this, too, gets the thumbs up, a sure sign the slice is tasty and totally decadent.
Overall, the atmosphere is charming. There is only one drawback - the cafe is timed for demolition about May, meaning regular customers and new fans, like us, only have a few more weeks to savour all that is good about the place.
Where: 110s Riccarton Road, Riccarton
When: Monday to Friday, 7.30am - 4.30pm, Saturday and Sunday 8.30am - 4pm
Upside: A homely, garden oasis
Downside: Due to be demolished in May