A road less travelled

KATE PREECE
Last updated 10:38 13/07/2012

Victoria St is not a dead end.

Though the remains of the Crowne Plaza signals the end of Victoria St, a huge pile of rubble is not metaphor for street's future.

If we start at the Bealey Ave end, it's easy to find reasons for a detour at lunchtime, whether it's to duck into Smash Palace and grab a bite from Rosie's Caravan Cafe (the quiches and sandwiches are tasty) or to pull up a pew at the tried-and-tested Vic's Cafe. The curry-in-a-hurry type set-up across from Vic's has gone, but Spagalimis is still there, serving up pizza and those tasty chips with their addictive sauce.

Victoria St used to be the place for something Greek and a spot of Thai, but both Costas Taverna and Chinwag Eathai are long gone. Foodies will be excited to know Tony Astle is bringing something new to the street, however, with the plan to open a new restaurant at 145 Victoria St, at the end of July (all going to plan). He says it's a new concept, and not simply another branch of Chinwag. Some might be disappointed by this, but Tony is far from a one-trick pony. He was behind Indochine and Newbery Lodge, too, so a fusion of all his projects could be rather spectacular.

Personally, my most missed part of the street is Moji - but that left well before the shakes started. My husband and I still fondly remember a duck dish and a mouth-watering pork belly number.

Milk bar was a flash in the pan on Victoria St. With its quirky retro milkshake makers, milk bottle sweets sold at the counter and tasty cafe food.

Newcomers include Blax Espresso, which has just opened at No 100. It used to be over on Montreal St, rubbing shoulders with The Cook Shop, which has temporarily shacked up with Gary Cockram Hyundai (on the corner of Tuam and Durham streets) instead.

The Coffee Club is another caffeine peddlar, and this one is sandwiched conveniently between high-fashion stores Lynn Woods and Jane Daniels (all at No 149).

You can still visit the friendly fellas at Victoria Ski Sport or book a holiday to warmer climes at House of Travel, which has returned after a hiatus on Carmen Rd, but it's the Carlton Butchery building that is getting all the attention at the moment.

A shining beacon for what the street could become, it's great to see something new and flashy up and running. Don't go in looking for a cut of lamb or some fresh sausages though, there's no butchery in the Carlton Butchery building. Instead, the name hails back to a simpler time, roughly 1900, when the site's first structure was indeed the home of a butcher. We heard this address was where chef Darren Wright, ex-Harbour 71, Akaroa, was to make his mark, but he has since changed his plans. Instead, he is setting up a new restaurant restaurant, cook school, kitchen shop and more at 478 Cranford St and calling it Chillingworth Road. Intentions are to have the place open by October or November.

Victoria Street has always provided inspiration for interiors, too, and that hasn't changed. Frogmore, Redcurrent and Belle Interiors are all still there, and Palazzo Design has found itself a new home there as well.

So it's not hard to find reasons to head down to check out Victoria. She has plenty more secrets to tell.

Have you been down Victoria St recently? Did you know there was so much still open on this street?

Avenues has investigated the street's potential, with an article to feature in the August issue (out July 26), that highlights some of the many reasons why Victoria St should not be the road less travelled.

 

- (Live Matches)

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