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Orleans is the kind of place the word “moody” was invented for. When we open the big door in Strange’s Lane and head in (in the early evening; such is the popularity of the place that it’s the only booking we can get!) we’re greeted by the soft glow of candles amidst the dimly-lit, darkly stained interior. Voodoo-esque figurines and photographs of jazz musicians look down on us from up near the high ceiling, and the neon behind the bar (the brightest thing in the room) beckons with a warm yellow glow. It all feels rather like we’ve stumbled through a portal to a laidback jazz club haunt on the Louisiana bayou somewhere.Perusing the fierce new winter menu and deciding we’re hungry, we back ourselves to tackle the whole pound rump steak, chargrilled and served with heaping helpings of dirty black rice and béarnaise sauce, also opting for the Caesar...
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There’s an element of New York cool to our very own Belgian Beer Café Torenhof – specifically, it recalls the Big Apple’s penchant for tucking killer watering holes and dining hot spots in unusual and unassuming locales. You can’t help but be reminded of this as you enter Christchurch’s hallowed ground of fine Belgian ales and European cuisine mastery via The Colombo’s car park. If there’s an additional sense of déjà vu once you’re inside the reinstated Belgian Beer Café Torenhof’s 1920s-hip time capsule, too, it’s on account of the entire fit-out (sans a few broken glasses) being relocated from their old central city venue and repurposed into its current digs following the quakes.The establishment expresses its anachronistic Belgian ‘brown bar’ bent via the familiar dark wood panelling and bevelled edge mirrors, sturdy dark-wood furniture, leather booth seating, deco lighting and vintage maps, paintings, and retro Belgian beer paraphernalia decorating the walls...
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With the sun streaking through the canopy of trees, the chorus of birdsong and the glittering Heathcote River silently snaking its way below, The Brickworks’ beer garden is channelling some serious urban oasis action. It’s a mid-winter day, but in this stunning location perched at the foot of the Cashmere Hills in the full afternoon sun we find ourselves, incredulously, having to remove the protective layers hurriedly thrown on earlier in the day between sips of frosty beer. Nearby, some industrial outdoor heating is ready to keep things toasty when the temperature drops, but we won't be needing it today. Inside, owner Angela Spyve has spruced up the iconic local, imbibing it with a cosy, rustic aesthetic and a relaxed, casual vibe. At its heart sits a killer, double sided-brick fireplace, perfect for those cooler evenings, which separates the bar (complete with enormous, curved screened TVs for serious sport hounds)...
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The butter-poached free-range egg sits atop the thick, lightly-caramelised slices of dry-aged sirloin, its startlingly orange yolk glistening like a rare jewel. Yielding under the knife before breaking, its molten gold contents spill over the steak and cascade down the deep crevices of tender, rare beef in a display of next-level gastro porn. It’s a sight likely to elicit a signature gasp and saucy superlative from domestic goddess/temptress Nigella Lawson, but it has me hurriedly reaching for the chunky, hand-cut golden fries to mop up the sprawling goodness. Ensconced in the swank surrounds of the Heritage Christchurch Hotel’s Old Government Building, the culinary maestros at Continental have breathed new life into Maddison’s Restaurant, the former breakfast-only venue now also rocking fierce lunch and dinner menus. Sustainable, locally-sourced and in-season fare is the order of the day, in alignment with the hotel chain’s Good Food Project. Don’t let the words ‘hotel...
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With 80s tunes rocking the sound system, a funky new interior created after a rustic revamp and a fine menu of epically-honed gastropub fare, the reborn Merrin Street Brewery Bar has swag in spades. The venue formerly known as the Monteith’s Brew Bar located in Avonhead Mall might have changed its name, but its signature legendary West Coast hospitality, and famed line-up of Monteith’s craft beers and Kiwi wines, continues the legacy of this neighbourhood fave. It’s a crackin’ autumn afternoon when we roll up with some serious hunger pangs and, after walking through the sun-drenched outdoor area, are welcomed by huge friendly grins from the staff and the slick new aesthetic, where righteous multi-coloured rough-cut coloured feature walls meet the industrial edge of chunky wooden copper-nailed tables. In a nod to the bar’s West Coast roots, a boar’s head lords over proceedings from over the fireplace. Behind a well-stocked...
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Recently (welcome!) back on the city's dining scene after an extended post-quake refurb last year, Kum Pun Thai have most definitely used that time well to up the wow factor of their restaurant, with their leaf-covered ceiling creating an intimate, calm, almost Zen-like atmosphere in which to relax and enjoy their tasty menu of Thai classics and special signature dishes. We settle in and kick things off with a house special, the Kum Pun sea star, a Thai-inspired take on a wonton in which tasty, tender minced chicken awaits beneath a star-pool casing filled with Thai red curry sauce with a hum – it's an ingenious, tasty little package that positively screams out “Have more than one!” in an insistently elbow-your-friends-aside tone.  The battle over the delectable entrée completed, we head onto Tom Yum soup, opting for the prawn option to add a seafood flavour kick to the sour and...
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With a nearby car park in busy Victoria Street secured, the Cityscape team heads into Aroy Thai on a grey afternoon to find several tables full of people already enjoyably munching away. We park up with a table in the quiet, relaxed environment and eye up the menu of traditional Thai classics including curries, noodle dishes and soups – there’s a good range on offer on the $12 lunch menu. We kick off with hot, crunchy spring rolls, fish cakes and chicken satay sticks, with a creamy peanut sauce that positively screams out for the slight impropriety of at-table finger-licking. A choice of rice or egg noodles is offered with each dish; important for connoisseurs of classic noodle dishes such as Pad Thai, which at Aroy can unusually also be ordered with a delicious crispy pork, and the Drunken Noodles, brim-full of generous servings of juicy chicken and coated in...
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The salted caramel crystals are glowing like amber jewels scattered over the perfectly-formed xócolate and rosemary crema pyramids, themselves nestled alongside the golden crusted, (and heavily cinnamon-sugar-dusted), spiced churros. We’ve come to the end of a languorous Friday lunch (is there a better kind?) at Mexico Food & Liquor, where the cares of the world have melted away while we sipped perfectly mixed – and suitably summery – frosty coconut margaritas and the lychee, passionfruit and ginger stunner blanco sangria under the Halloween-esque day of the dead memorabilia radiating off the walls. Inside, the fit-out is all Tarantino-cool, and the restaurant is buzzing with hip and friendly staff and an authentic south of the border soundtrack, while outside the rebuilding city is also starting to buzz with the promise of the weekend. But it’s the promise of a killer new summer menu courtesy of Mexican maestro Javier Carmona that’s inspired our...
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A tram rattles past, revealing the Wizard reverse parking (though we can’t be sure, given his pushmi-pullyu double-fronted Volkswagen Beetle), as I reach for another heavenly smoked pork rib sticky with chancaca.We’re lunching at Casa Publica, James ‘Carlton’ Murdoch’s love letter to all things South American – including the mysterious Señor Hugo Chile – and it’s a perfect spring day in the city. Sitting in the sun at the Armagh Street end of the always buzzing New Regent Street, it’s the perfect spot to withdraw from (but still keep an eye on) the city’s hustle and bustle, kick back, and enjoy sensational sipper Casa Luana – a premium, smooth rum infused in-house with a heady mix of cardamom, orange and brown sugar – while grazing on exotic fare.With a theme based around the legend of the aforementioned Señor Chile, who became a rum runner during prohibition, then switched to cocaine...
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  It feels like we’ve stumbled on one of Christchurch’s best kept foodie secrets – our table is littered with brightly-coloured plates of stunning, ‘modern Asian’ deliciousness and it’s just too close a race to call a favourite. What’s more, we can’t even adopt the tried and true ‘whittle them down from the least favourite’ scenario, such are the dishes’ across-the-board excellence. Sitting within the YMCA, with killer street frontage on Rolleston Avenue serving up epic views of the Botanic Gardens from a sun-drenched al fresco area, DUO Dining Room & Bar fuses a funky, en-pointe hip vibe with some seriously boundary-pushing Asian fare. Inside it’s all smiles from super-friendly, on game staff and industrial cool by way of a black pressed ceiling, slick black-tiled bar, naked black wire lamp shades and some edgy urban street art-style muralage. Hit the bar and grab a frosty glass of Asahi or Somersby Cider...