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Eating @ ... Orleans

Orleans image x3

“The menu is made for sharing and you’ll want to take a little taste from each of the Sumthin’s,” enthuses our waitress over the toe-tappingly raucous strains of Seth Hamilton and the Jimmy Rainy Quartet, which are saxing their way up to Orleans’ suitably broody mezzanine level.

Strange's Lane’s first birthday is in full swing and Christchurch’s ragin’ Cajun quarter is channelling some serious Bourbon Street swagger. Tucked up an unassuming High Street alley, strings of hundreds of fairy lights lead to the balloon-strewn bohemian bricked courtyard, where a bangin’ DJ set is firing up revellers not adverse to the intermittent showers, while those who are swill killer prohibition-cool cocktails in the pimped-up industrial chic of neighbouring watering hole Strange & Co.

We get our own party started with a round of Orleans’ cocktails; the classic Red Snapper ups the ante with a Creole spin on the classic Bloody Mary by adding gin and syrah to the mix. Meanwhile, the Hayman’s Sloe Gin and Campari-base, piqued with lemon and Peychaud’s bitters, makes the Bon Temps Fizz fruity with a slightly bitter finish, and perfectly matched to the fiery bowl of nibbles in the centre of the reclaimed wood table.

The younger brother to the Auckland institution, Orleans Christchurch follows its northern sibling’s winning trifecta of hearty Creole soul food, hard liquor, serious live music and infectious feel good New Orleans funk. The rustic setting fuses ol’ skool Southern artefacts and trinkets with a distinctly local twist by way of a fit-out comprised almost entirely from earthquake salvaged material, which adds a nod to the past while being completely of the moment.

Taking our waitress’ advice, we select Orleans Fried Chicken and Creole Crusted Prawn and Pork Belly Toast from the ‘small sumthin’s’ and Orleans’ Slaw and Poutine Curly Fries from ‘sumthin on the side’, and tap birthday special ‘Old Bay’ Seasoned Blue Swimmer Crab and the Crisp Cajun Prawns from ‘big sumthin’s.

The dishes all come out within minutes of each other and pretty soon our table is littered with an array of tasty dishes all humming with the Southern sass typical of classic soul food – and laced with belly warming spices and all the appropriate fixin’s. The Fried Chicken and Prawn and Pork Belly toast are game-changing starters, with the latter’s fresh fennel and divine chipotle mayo ensuring that a seriously clean plate heads back to the kitchen. Similarly the Crispy Prawns are downed shell and all, with a squeeze of lemon adding a seafood symphony, while sweet, spicy and succulent, the crab meat is definitely worth the minimal effort.

Given it’s a party, it’d be rude not to have cake; we go for another b’day special, the Dark Chocolate and Cherry Meringue Pie with Cherry Ice-Cream, worthy of a starring role in Twin Peaks, and the classic decadence of the Chocolate & Maple Cookie Sandwich. It’s a high-note to end on – sufficiently sated and primed via the cocktails’ buzz and surrounding high-octane antics, we join the party at Strange & Co.

Orleans
89 Lichfield Street, Christchurch City
03 365 7312
www.orleans.co.nz

Cityscape

Cityscape is the essential Christchurch directory of where to eat and drink, what to do and where to shop. From the best events to add to your calendar to tips to ensure you squeeze out the very essence of the city, Cityscape has the city of Christchurch covered inside and out.

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Guest 12 December 2017