When one of my closest friends came down to Christchurch, it was a chance to show off our new city.
We approached the city from the south, slowing down to take in the new and improved end of Lincoln Rd, offering more than great coffee. Like a professional tour guide, I pointed out The Pedal Pusher on the right, describing it as the sort of place ideal of afterwork drinks or pre-theatre dining. Lincoln Rd stalwart Addington Coffee Co-op was given a friendly wave and I mentioned how it had a revampt a few months ago and now boasts a neat wee shop with Trade Aid products and more. I don't think she saw Mosaic by Simo, tucked away in the "Addington Mall", but she couldn't remember it Simo's Moroccan restaurant in Cashel St anyway.
We scooted down the no-exit street that leads to The Court Theatre so I could show her what we Cantabs can do with four firm walls. I went to my first show there a week ago and was very impressed with both the venue and the performance. If my friend was staying longer, I would have sent her along to Man In A Suitcase, in the hope she would be as entertained as I was.
From Bernard St, it was back onto Lincoln Rd, for a game of "what was that?" along Moorhouse Ave and an update on the demolition of the Science Alive building.
My friend and I had already visited The Monday Room, so she knew of their fantastic cocktails and yakitori bar menu, and we instead opted for somewhere brand new. The CBD Bar has caught our attention for some time, as we waited impatiently for the next instalment of the Cassels and sons' story to get the green light. It opened mid-August, but its liquor licence was only granted last Thursday, making a glass of pinot a must for our first stop.
The CBD Bar is a great addition to the inner-city landscape. We decided the wrought-iron seats might divide opinion as they are comfy, but attached to the tables and squeak noisily if you're a chair swinger. The long narrow space had a good number of people for a Sunday afternoon, and the American barman was a great ambassador for the place, with his friendly approach and consistent service. We didn't go with his suggestion a tequila (he said it wasn't too early if you were in the States), but a glass of wine and the flat bread with hummus and olive were great companions. We were told there is a beer garden to look forward to, which will certainly lift the surrounding landscape. It is strange how accustomed we have become to views of shingle, fences, road cones and khaki-clad gatekeepers. There are two more bars to be added to the two-storey building at 208 Madras St, so best keep an eye on this address.
A walk to Re:Start combined the sights of the broken Cathedral with the colourful seats lining the Avon River en route to our bright new heart. With Ballantynes having just opened its first-floor Fashion Atrium, it was easy to make that our first stop. I proudly showed my friend that Ricochet and Moochi have both returned to the city and we finally have Kate Sylvester. We were tempted by Mi Piaci and pleased to see Cue, Ted Baker, Veronika Maine and Witchery all there, too. We bumped into Avenues' fashion stylist Lee Hogsden who was even more excited than we were.
As time ticked away, we wandered through containers full of tempting clothing and shoes before it was cocktail hour.
King Of Snake has opened in Victoria St and it welcomed us with an exotic interior and a drinks list begging to be sampled. It made sense that we sampled the bar's namesake and the cocktail made famous at Indochine. As I supped on a refreshing mojito, my friend was enjoying the ginger and chilli hit that her reptilian drink delivered. It was different, packed a punch and left an impact - much like the bar itself. We added some fries to our order and must say, the miso mayonnaise is incredible.
There are so many other places we could have visited on this sunny Sunday. Sumner would have been fun, eating at Clink or Bamboozle, and checking out Flock and Blackbird Gifts for starters. The Colombo has changed a lot since my friend was last here, too. And if we had set off from her parents' home, we could have had a bite at China Kitchen or the Maharaja Indian Restaurant on Papanui Rd, Jagz Cafe in Northwood or Reality Bites Cafe on Sawyers Arms Rd, before carrying on to Merivale for a spot of shopping.
Yes, we live in a broken city, but there are patches of colour and new growth is constant. I can prove it.
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