Back in Christchurch – The Monday Room

3.37pm, Thursday 19th July, Quay Street, On the harbourfront, Auckland, North Island, NZ

OK folks, I’ve got a spare moment so I wanted to finish up a couple of stories from our Yalumba Goodwill Tour of Christchurch. Three years ago, we did our new release tasting and lunch event for the Christchurch wine trade at Bar 205 and Yakitori Lounge – something completely different for us, as it was a ‘degustation meal on skewers’ with each flavour being matched to a different wine. There wwere things like miso seared fish with grenache, lamb loin centres taken from the chops with mint pesto for the cabernets – all on bamboo slivers – you get the picture! Well, ‘205’ was at 205 Manchester Street, right in the centre of town. It’s just a couple of blocks back from Cathedral Square, so as you can imagine, the building was completely ruined in the quakes The only thing left that you can see from outside the high chain wire fence that encloses the current ‘red zone’ demolition area downtown, is a small ‘205’ sign high up on what’s left of an outer wall. It’s difficult to see, but 205 was about half way down this street on the right.

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Now the good news is that the owner of 205 – Hennie Murray – has done what some of the other seriously resilient good restaurant operators in Christchurch have done, he’s gone out and found an old 3 story hotel on the edge of the city centre, outside the red zone, that had been sitting empty for ages. They’ve taken the back half of the ground floor and turned that space into The Monday Room – very low tea lighting quite romantic stuff in the bar dining area, with a roaring log fire on the back porch, which is open to the elements from breakfast through to supper!! The same Japanese chef from 205 is in the kitchen, and the menu – I think – is even better than the one from 205. There’s actually three menus now – Breakfast, the seasonal Yakitori , and the small share plate Tapas.

We dropped in on Monday night to catch up with Christy and Jeremy, and went with their ‘favourites’ from the Yakitori and Tapas lists. I was surprised that something as simple as Cherry Tomatoes wrapped in Pancetta and grilled on skewers were so jolly tasty! We reckon that on and the Pork Belly with Misonegi ( glaze ) were spot on to go with The Strapper Grenache Shiraz Mataro or Bushvine Grenache

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Sorry about the quality of the photos – as I said, the lighting is pretty low….we had to put a tea light onto the plates to get any picture at all. Any rate – trust me – everything that Christy chose was fab. From the Tapas menu, we had some in house made Kumara (that’s sweet potato for folks who don’t live in NZ) Polenta fries – delivered in an alternate ‘block stack’ with a dipping aoili. And I asked for a piled high bowl of steamed ‘really good for you’ Edamame Beans……because it makes you feel not quite as naughty as you plough into the Japanese style ‘Karage’ crumbed and deep fried chicken thighs. We also tried a really interesting prawn and green pepper ‘spring roll’ style triangle parcel – begging for some of our 2011 Y Vermentino….chilled!

Now you’ll need to know where The Monday Room is. It’s in the old pub building on the corner of Moorhouse Avenue and Madras Street, and there’s the big Strategy ad agency sign right up there on top.

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Also worth knowing is that The Monday Room is also open for breakfast 7 days from 8am. Besides the big Kiwi ‘Farmhouse’ brekky plate with Peter Timbs (local) streaky bacon, tomato, mushroom, sausage, egg, toasted ciabatta AND home made relish – they also do Coddled Eggs, and they do my favourite – Poached eggs with buttered toast ‘soldier’ strips. But….there’s more. Have a think about this – ‘go gourmet’ and choose to start your special day of the week with a Stuffed Portobello mushroom filled with proscuito , marscapone, and spinach, topped with a poached egg! And I’m not even starting on the banana stuffed French Toast number!!

You should also give some thought to possibly dropping in to The Monday Room for lunch when they’re baking their ‘Trio of Mini Pies – Beef & Moa Noir (that’s the local NZ stout / Guinness style beer) + Rabbit Leek & Thyme + Lamb Shank Kumara & Carrot. Actually, I find myself asking if theres any reason to actually ever leave The Monday Room!! Please go soon…..and go often!!,

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