Ōtautahi Christchurch Food Guide with Alex Davies of Gatherings
I moved to Ōtautahi Christchurch with my family in 2005 and as a chef, I have been operating small spaces and pop-ups throughout central Christchurch for the last decade. Gatherings Restaurant, where I am the owner-operator, one of many chefs and general all-rounder, is the most recent iteration of my ideas and it is turning six soon!
At Gatherings, we are excited to be a part of the dynamic and ever-evolving food scene here in Aotearoa with relationships dotted all across the motu. Flavour drives everything, as does an understanding and desire to better our earth through sustainable practices and ideas.
Lyttelton Coffee Company
29 London Street, Lyttelton
I love Lyttelton Coffee Company… in fact, I love all these places, so I will stop already. The space is so well made and is such a beautiful nod to the community it sits within. Spaces that resonate with their immediate communities always resonate with me. Smaller independent owner-operator spaces just feel better and that's a fact. Lyttelton Coffee Co is all of this and more, it’s a very special place, and they do amazing coffee!
Mapu Test Kitchen
8A London Street, Lyttelton
Also found in Lyttelton, Mapu is the brainchild of Giulio Sturla, the former owner-operator of Roots restaurant. It was the best restaurant in the country at its time, and now Mapu is in my opinion. Giulio does everything on his own. It is the smallest restaurant in the country and only seats six people. Dining here is like being welcomed into someone's home but with food you would see nowhere else in the world.
Southern Asian Restaurant
545 Colombo Street
This place does incredible Chinese food, it really blows me away. I believe Christchurch has some of the best Chinese restaurants in the country that are truly delicious and made to serve the community instead of fusion cuisine, which often misses the mark. Southern Asian is in the central city; we go here a lot. Order things you would never think to order. I would eat all of them!
279B Greers Road, Bryndwr
Another owner-operator spot that is a must-visit in my opinion is chef Kinji’s namesake restaurant Kinji. His seafood selections are the freshest in the city. I always go for the trust the chef option, where Kinji sends out the food and you get what you're given. It's always top quality and it’s incredibly authentic Japanese cuisine.
6/2 Papanui Road, Merivale
Londo is a wonderful experience where you sit up at the bar, drink great natural wine, and are cooked for. Make sure you go hungry, the food steps well above usual bar offerings and the atmosphere, due to its small size, is always humming. This is a great place to book a table for the night, or why not go there before coming to Gatherings? It’s the perfect spot to cosy up with friends, share a bottle or some cocktails and have a few snacks.
5/20 Welles Street, Christchurch Central City
A great little wine bar found inside The Welder, Salut Salut’s wine selection ranges from the classics to new wave wines with everything in between. Tess also has a great little cheese selection and does Spanish ham shaved to order if you're into that kind of thing! The place is small and intimate, they offer blind tastings and there is so much to choose from. You can happily sit here all night trying glass after glass.
Sweet Soul Patisserie
79 Cashel St, Christchurch
Taina and Rea own this beautiful little patisserie tucked away in the centre of the city. The cakes they make blow my mind. The intricacy, skill and presentation are far beyond anything I could ever create. We are so lucky to have a place making desserts like this in the city plus their coffee is great. The service is always kind and chatty, and to eat one of these cakes is to experience something like nothing else.
Pick up at 466 Tuam Street, Christchurch Central City
Corentin Esquinet is the mastermind behind Butter. Butter is a homage to his French childhood, and Corentin recreates forgotten and long-lost French pastries that are gorgeous. He uses the best ingredients and produce he can get his hands on to make his creations and his patience and commitment to tradition are to be admired. You have to try everything if you have even the slightest love of food. He doesn't have a permanent spot (yet) but you can order through his website.
South Town Club
10 Welles Street, Christchurch Central City
This is a great central city spot for coffee and food, and once again, is an owner-operator establishment - they really are the best! The atmosphere here is always a good time. You feel welcome and comfortable as soon as you walk through the front door. Everything is top quality, the food menu is excellent and changes frequently. There are always tempting scones, and the Supreme coffee is always on point.
Waipara is a must for anyone visiting Canterbury, and only 40 minutes from the city. Visit as many wineries as possible and then finish with a long lunch at Black Estate overlooking their vines, eating delicious food and drinking wines made by Black Estate. The hospitality of Pen and her team is always so special. A must for any visitor, or if you live in Christchurch and haven’t done this, why not! You’re missing out.