In Christchurch, we do not ask if a shop is open at a certain hour, we ask if it is open at all.
The follow-up question is about location - is it where it used to be? Has it reopened, rebuilt or relocated? Last but not least, it's "how do we get there?" While the street names stay the same, more and more roads are sporting bright, shiny orange signs with white squares, alerting us of new detours, for undisclosed times. I'm not complaining, getting there is half the fun, right?
What is exciting is there are more and more reasons to leave the house as the promise of the earthquake-proof summer gets ever closer. I'm sure that's why we are hearing about restaurants and bars planning to reopen in October and November, to welcome in the sun and vitamin-D charged patrons excited to have said goodbye to the gloom of winter and spring's unpredictability.
We don't have to wait any longer for Tony Astle's latest creation. King of Snake has opened at 145 Victoria St and I cannot wait to see what this keen restauranteur has done this time. Tony is the man behind a few long-gone establishments: Indochine, Newbury Lodge and Chinwag Eathai's two branches, the most memorable of all. He is bringing more life back to Victoria St, a road less travelled these days ... yet still full of places to go and people to see.
If you are a fan of Gordon Smith and Sons Fruiterers, another branch of the fruit and vegetable haven is set to open in The Colombo in September. It's moving in to the shop beside She Chocolat's stand, which means you will be cancelling your healthy buying with decadent chocolate dates and hot chocolates.
There's a bit more happening at The Colombo, with Andrea Biani a newcomer, hairdressing salon Janine Jansen on its way in and the Arts Centre Cinema currently in talks with the new-age mall. Imagine taking a box of J'aime les macarons into the theatre and enjoying a truly sophisticated evening of fine food and cinema. Classy.
On the other side of town, vegetarians and pescatarians have something to be especially excited about. Dux Dine is coming. It's not Dux de Lux, it's not in the Arts Centre, but it's close on both counts. It's close to you if you live in Riccarton, as it will be moving in to 28 Riccarton Rd. Manager Ross Herrick describes Dux Dine as "not dissimilar to the Dux de Lux we all knew and loved, however different and new with a comfortably familiar feeling".
"It will be seafood and vegetarian driven and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and everything in-between throughout the day. There will be a great sun-trapping courtyard as well as covered verandas and very cool inside areas. The service aspect will be a little different and sustainability is a strong emphasis with a 200-mile radius for the supply of the majority of the produce (obviously not all supplies will be within this however wherever possible). This is the second 'Dux-ling' to help substitute for what we've been told is a greatly missed part of Christchurch people's lives. And yes... the salads will be back!"
Can hardly wait! I hope there is plenty of Ginger Tom on tap. Though you can still get that at Dux Live, which is proving a great place for live gigs and quiet drinks, depending on the hour.
Have you kept up with The Bedford's movements? It's now sharing the CPSA Building site at 126 Madras St, but still hosting some fantastic bands. Katchafire were there recently and Dragon (yes, April Sun In Cuba) will be playing there in October.
Going back to beer though, the people of The Twisted Hop are certainly making their comeback bigger and better than before. What was once confined to the super-cool Poplar Lanes area is slowly taking over the city, suburb by suburb. Well, perhaps it's not a takeover, but The Twisted Hop, which has been limited to a brewery shop at 7B Parkhouse Rd, Wigram, has confirmed it will be adding two bars to the Christchurch scene. The Twisted Hop Woolston (616 Ferry Rd) could be open as early as mid-October, while it's a longer wait for The Twisted Hop Lincoln (corner of West Belt and Gerald St), which is more of a 2013 project.
Perhaps the most enlightening thing I discovered recently was The Lotus-Heart's giftshop. Tucked away at the back of the Sri Chinmoy Centre (363 St Asaph St) is a treasure trove of very cool presents, from jewellery to cupcake-decorating kits. It's considerably more mainstream than I expected. Even the Gandharva Loka world music store in the neighbouring room looks tempting. Don't get me started on the chai, made on site and served out front, in The Lotus-Heart vegetarian restaurant.
There you have it, a bit of excitement, a lot of change and touch of zen. That's Christchurch.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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