Earthquake update April 2011
The only place in Lyttelton where you can get fish'n'chips at the moment is the newish Fish'n'Chips Bar in the premises of what was formerly known as the Indian Harbour restaurant. They had been working on the renovation for quite a while, were more or less unaffected by the 22 February earthquake and - incredibly enough - opened two or three days after the earthquake.
All other fish'n'chips shops have either been closed due to risky locations or already been demolished, like the award-winning place next to the Lava Bar.
If you see all the fish'n'chips shops in Lyttelton - alone on a stretch of 200 metres in London Street there are three - you wonder what Lytteltonians eat apart from junk food and how the several fine dining restaurants can survive. Well, maybe because enough people from Christchurch come over the hills to our new-born flash suburb, and, of course, enough tourists who want to invest some money in food ;-) Oh yes, and Lytteltonians eat out in nice restaurants on Valentine's Day and similar special occasions ;-)))
As we are a little health-conscient and do not want to get the size of a wine barrel we control our fish'n'chips consumption. Our two favourite places are the award winning Lyttelton Fisheries (next to the Lava Bar) and the London Street Fish'n'Chips & Chinese Takeaway on the same side of London Street, just some steps further towards Oxford Street. The latter gives me the feeling of not ruining my arteries by eating such a fat bomb as they cook with healthy canola oil ;-) Also their Chinese food is good.
Their fish'n'chips is incredibly cheap. A piece of fish costs $1.50 and a scoop of chips also $1.50 - the chips portion is big enough for two! With 3 pieces of fish and one scoop of fish two average eaters should be satisfied - at a total price of $6!
Make sure to eat your fish'n'chips right from the paper wrapping, that's the only authentic way. And please, throw the paper into rubbish bins and not on the streets.
Favorite Dish: -
Yes, now we really know it: We just HAVE to have fish'n'chips here as they are so good for our health. Ok, perhaps not the fish but the chips. The Lyttelton Fisheries fish'n'chips shop was crowned best chip shop in the country right now at the start of November 2007.
In the competition it was measured that the home-made thick-cut chips have less than half the fat content of the national average. The chunky chips have only 3.72 per cent fat, the lowest result in the history of the competition. The national average was 9.2 per cent, the average of the six finalists in the Crisco Oils Best Chip Shop Competition 7.6 per cent. You see, really an amazing result for the Lytteltonians.
So if you eat those winning chips you do not eat unhealthier food than buying something in the bakery. The secret - which is no secret - is the thick cut as such chips do not absorb as much fat as thin ones. However, not so sure about the fish LOL
Update March 2009
Our award winning fish'n'chips shop has annoyed us several times in the past year, so we are back in the Chinese shop for our fish'n'chips. The reason for the disappointment was that the chips portions did not only become smaller by the day but every time a lot of rubbish chips were in the pack. You know, those tiny crispy fat suckers. As if we had always got the scaps of a batch of chips. I do not care if it was their new way of earning more money with smaller portion and worse quality. We gave them a fair chance by going back several times after our first meal of discontent. But as it did not get any better we did not go back anymore - but later did again a year later (2010), and the chips were of much better quality.
Photo 2 shows the award-winning fish'n'chips shop right after the earthquake on 22 February 2011.
Earthquake update 27 April 2011
This much loved place and the Lava Bar have been demolished last week. Something new - and never the same again - will spring up at some point but we have to be patient.
The Volcano Café is no café at all but a restaurant, and the menu is a very mixed bag: Local seafood and fish, Mexican enchiladas and jalapeño chillies, Indian curries, Italian bruschetta and pasta, Thai fish cakes, Spanish kidney and bacon, and so it goes on. But they know exactly what they are doing, and whatever you chose, the meals are hearty and come in satisfying portions. There is something for everyone, including vegetarians.
For me it is a Mexican restaurant with international additions, the interior of the restaurant and the adjoining Lava Bar are Mexican, and the striking yellow of the restaurant and the blue of the bar, both adorned by red and green paintwork, make the image perfect. In fact the outside makes the buildings stand out at the corner of London and Canterbury Streets, and the time it is already there the Volcano already has become a Lyttelton institution.
As you can expect one of the favourite drinks served in the Lava Bar (open from 5pm) are margaritas. Dinner starts at 6pm. You can BYO bottled wine.
If the weather is nice it is nice to sit in the secluded courtyard and have a drink.
Favorite Dish: All Mexican dishes - if the enchiladas or the vegetarian platter, as there are not a lot of Mexican restaurants in Christchurch.
Earthquake update April 2011
Renovated in such a big effort, this place has also been hit hard in the February earthquake. The will exists to rebuild.
Finally I have made it to one of the latest additions to the Lyttelton café scene, right beside the Wunderbar. Two young guys have taken on the challenge of resurrecting the last available old building on London Street. The renovation took a year, and they have done a great job. They transformed the space which has veeery high ceilings into a unique place.
The main focus is roasting coffee, and this coffee is sold in other shops as well, the next one is across the street at the Ground deli.
First thing: The interior with the extremely high red brick walls is interesting though very dark.
Second thing: The coffee – I had a cappuccino - was very strong. A bit too strong for my taste. And not just for me. At the next table a lady ordered her second coffee “not as strong as the first one”. So if you do not want to be resurrected by a coffee but just enjoy it, tell the barista that you would prefer "normal" strength.
Like in most cafés it takes quite a while until the coffee is served but at least the milk froth is nice. Reception is very casual, could be more attentive.
Third thing: the deck. What should be a nice place could be a nice place if they cared a little more about it. But apart from the new banister nothing is nice. Ok, ok… You have a part view of the harbour. You see the mountains of Banks Peninsula – Mt. Herbert, Mt. Bradley, and The Monument. You see Diamond Harbour. You see a lot of ships and cranes. And if you stretch your neck you even see some drops of the turquoise blue water of the harbour. And you can ignore the ugly rooves around you and you look onto.
But the immediate surroundings are appalling. Let’s say: Do not sit outside if you have no chair with a view of the harbour, otherwise you look against the ugliest slum walls you might ever have seen. If they do not plaster them they could at least give them a coat of paint. And finally there is the weird smell of airconditioning units in the air. Not very nice. Ah, not finally… The so-called outdoor furniture are the cheapest red plastic chairs they could get (sure, good in the case of rain), two rectangular small tables which are ok, and two huge round tables of comparable quality to the folding table I use for wallpapering. If they were not round I would have supposed they have stolen them from me. Whatsoever, they look like fresh from the dump.
Despite my critical view the Coffee Company is an absolute in-place in and around Lyttelton. On Saturdays I did not even try to go there as it looked totally crammed, especially during market hours.
Open only until late afternoon.
Update May 2008
In a very unprofessional and rude email one of the owners wrote me some time ago that they will update the deck when finances allow. I cannot update you on this process as he asked me to stay away from his business, virtually because I wrote the truth. He did not write anything I had written here was not correct. He just did not like it. He also thinks as a local I should not say a critical word about local businesses. I think he had a bad day but still he should act in a more professional way. I accept his explanation that due to financial restraints the deck still looks a little shabby. And why should I want to go back as I do not like the coffee? He should just ignore me as he has enough customers who are happy with his place.
Earthquake update April 2011
This place is fully operational.
The only thing that turned me off for a long time was the new name of the formerly Governors Bay Café: She - the She Café and Restaurant. To me it sounds like fight of the genders, males excluded, and the brochures they gave us sounded like healthy wholemeal foods only and Indian tantras and gurus - just nothing I had cherished in former times. So it has taken quite a while until I gave it a try.
And well, it is wonderful. They say "She" is inspiration for body and soul, perhaps too much purple decoration... After having enjoyed the culinary delights, ranging from healthy to decadent, I do not mind the name anymore, and go back to the café with definetely the best view in the wider Christchurch area (with the exception of the café at the gondola summit station - so the best view from sea level ;-)
"She" sits in an elevated curve of the road around Lyttelton Harbour in Governors Bay. The decks look like built around the harbour to guarantee a view to die for, and from some tables and the barstools inside you can also enjoy the magic view, which is good on a busy Sunday when all the outside tables are taken.
As Governors Bay is nestled at the very end of the fiord-like harbour this is the best spot for a perfect overview. At the horizon you see Godley and Adderley Heads, and the port of Lyttelton, and the Port Hills to the left, the mountains of Banks Peninsula on the right.
On a busy Sunday the service is slow as lots of people stop at this place, either on their way to or back from the peninsula, or just coming because the atmosphere is so relaxed and the food so good. (Update August 2008: When we were there two weeks ago on a Sunday they were so desorganised that my husband left in protest before even trying to be seated LOL And we went across the street to the pub. So better you try during the week...)
The starters are very expensive - I do not see the point why a soup of the day should cost NZ$ 16.50. The main courses all come at $28.50 which is the average in such fine restaurants, and the desserts at $11.50 (all prices as Jan. 2007).
In total great food in a relaxing atmosphere, sometimes accompanied by live music or - talks. Which finally is the alternative aspect of "She", the choice of the name, the guru part.
Café open 7 days, 10am-4pm, restaurant 10am-3pm, and Thur-Sun 6pm-9pm (last order).
Favorite Dish: The cakes are stars of their own and come at a price. And not only those... They also have Belgian chocolates, and some cakes enriched by this bitter-sweet delight. Nothing matches better than a thick strawberry cream in a basket of thin dark chocolate. Date Decadence is one of the specialities. And they also serve the Mexican dish Mole Poblano - naming it Mexican Mole - which is a spicy sauce finished with chocolate.
They do not mess around with exotic fair but serve authentic food fresh from the region, like Akaroa salmon, lamb roast, venison ragout, and - ok... - chicken and chorizo paella and confit of duck leg. But these are just exotic names and the style of preparation of Canterbury food.
Photo 2 shows some of the sweet treats of the She Café.
Update January 2011
The steak house which had opened in the premises of the fine London Street restaurant has closed down quite a while ago. The place has now reopened with three young new owners. The menu is not extensive but offers something for everyone, so surely worth a try.
Update July 2010
This fine restaurant had closed down and was only opened about two months ago under new ownership. It has become a steakhouse - and therefore totally uninteresting for me. I surely like a steak from time to time but I surely did not need another steakhouse.
It obviously is so exclusive that it is not listed on the official Lyttelton website nor in the Yellow Pages... So the details listed below are of the former London Street restaurants. On my next walk into town I will stop and check it out.
Earthquake update 27 April 2011
Although the building did not look bad from a little distance, the damage of the brick walls became obvious at a closer look. It is just being demolished. Let's see what will happen in the rebuilding process.
My old review about the original London Street restaurant that was lost...
Distinctive Flavours but also some Nuisances
The most important thing ahead: The food in this fine dining restaurant is delicious, the flavours distinctive, prepared the way you do not get it in other restaurants or at home, normally... ;-) So London Street would always be worth a visit.
On Valentine's Day when they were fully booked we had Saffron and Seafood Soup which looked a little bit microwaved but had a wonderful flavour, and it was full of fish and mussels. The Corn Fed Chicken on Potato Rösti with Savoury Peanut Sauce was as delicious as the Pan Seared Groper with fennel, spinach and gnocchi. The least inspiring flavours were the too sugary sorbets.
On that special day they also had dinner set menus at $55 which were good value for money.
The wine list is impressive but it is so long that they do not store all the wines on premise, so it took quite long until we got our (fantastic) French rosé.
What we did not really like is the total lack of privacy as the tables are so close together that you nearly sit on your neighbour's lap. They even succeeded to place three two-person-tables along one long sofa, so every time someone stood up the tables had to be moved. We did not appreciate either that we had a table next to the door to the toilets, from where we could hear sounds... The toilets themselves were stylish ;-) On the other hand I had a good view through the kitchen glass door and could watch Gordon and Ramsay ;-) at work.
The most annoying thing, however, were the lots of flies which permanently landed on the food and us. One was so weak that it fell on to its back right on our table and finally died in the liquid wax of our candle. Not what you want to see in such a fine restaurant. Perhaps my perfume attracted the flies, dunno. Will go without next time. But the toilet and fly experience cut down my rating to only Satisfied instead of Great Experience.
Last thing: The seating area near the entrance is much more pleasing, with a brick wall. The extension, lit up with a massive mirror, has a cold feeling.
Update 18 May 2009
This was a tip about the Harbour Master Café. I have just seen - yessss, it was a very updating walk today... ;-))) - that this place has become the Fuze Restaurant and Café. Until I can give you a review on the food (if I can ever afford it...), I just give you the basic info about the new restaurant - and leave the information on the historic building in this tip.
Update 18 January 2011
If you want to open a restaurant, this would perhaps be the place for you. Fuze Restaurant has been closed down, perhaps at it was too highly priced. A part of the building is now being used by Black Cat Cruises after their rooms have been damaged in last year's earthquake. The restaurant part of the building is available for lease.
Earthquake update April 2011
The building has been so badly damaged in the February earthquake that it will probably be demolished. Black Cat Cruises are homeless the second time since September.
The Harbour Master Building
There is something special about this place. You feel it when you first step into this historic brick building. In fact, you step down below street level.
The interior of the former Lyttelton Harbour Board Building from 1880 which is registered as Category II by the Historic Places Trust has been restored to a stunning result: fantastic old floor boards, even more fantastic nearly room-high windows that are surrounded by kauri wood, and also the skirting boards and doors are made of kauri. There are not only the normal tables and chairs in the two rooms where you can enjoy your coffee or meal, but also some sofas to hang around and have a look at the provided magazines.
Norwich Quay is the main traffic road between the road tunnel and the working harbour. Additional traffic comes over the Oxford over-bridge from the southern part of the harbour. The restaurant/café is the first coffee stop when you come back from a Blackcat Cruise or the Diamond Harbour ferry.
Next to the Harbour Master building is a fairy-tale-like building, the historic railway signal box which has been relocated to the place where you can now see it. (See extra tip in Things to Do)
Photo 2 shows the Harbour Master building in its full beauty.
Photos 3 and 4 show the building with the signs of the former owners (Fuze) - and your personal VT guide in action ;-)
Earthquake update April 2011
Sorry to say - but the Lyttelton Times Café has been badly damaged in the earthquake on 22 February. It is surrounded by fallen bricks and fenced off. Looks like one of the places that will be demolished soon. The damaged buildings in London Street have priority in this sad respect, so businesses in not so badly damaged buildings can re-open as soon as possible.
The Lyttelton Times Café is a nice addition to Lyttelton’s busy café scene. It has been opened in 2007, and has become an interesting place of history and culture – and, of course, a place where you can have a relaxing drink and decent coffee.
In the very early days of European settlement the first newspaper, the liberal Lyttelton Times, was published in this building with double-height ceiling. Opposite the counter you find bound newspapers of the Lyttelton Times which was published from 11 January 1851 until 29 June 1935. The presses arrived on the Charlotte Jane, one of the famous first four ships. The paper was published weekly until 1854, then it became bi-weekly. In 1863 the business was moved from Lyttelton to Cathedral Square in Christchurch. The name remained until 1 August 1929 when the paper was named the Christchurch Times. They called it quits because competition in Christchurch was incredible at the time. There were two morning and two evening papers.
After the relocation of the newspaper to Christchurch the building had a lot of different purposes. At some point it was the office of the Seamen’s Union, and in the 1960s it was taken over by the adjoining British Hotel and became a gay bar. The British Hotel, being the first port of call for arriving sailors from all over the world, has long been a scary place and not many locals would have dared to set a foot over the threshold. But the owner of the Lyttelton Times Café assured us we could now go there without risking your life LOL So at some point I will post my report about this coming visit ;-) Over the café are rooms of the British Hotel.
(Please do not believe the info on the café’s website about Lyttelton and Little Tin Town!)
The café also offers cultural events, like poetry evenings and a one-hour one-woman show about Lyttelton’s history. They programme has the title “The Immigrants”. The lady performs for cruise ship passengers at 9.30am and 2.30pm on the day when the ships are in Lyttelton. Cost $20, free drink for those who book.
Favorite Dish: -
We only had coffee and slices up to now, so cannot judge the food. We were even there on lazy days, so there was not even a big choice of cakes. But what we got was nice, and the coffees were fabulous, and the large cappuccino really laaaaaaarge :-)
The café is open Tue – Sun 10am – 6pm, Sat open until late.
Update 27 April 2011
In the meantime the place that once was the Indian Harbour restaurant has become a "Fish Bar" named Fisherman's Wharf. It opened two or three days after the earthquake on 22 February and, for some weeks, was the only open place in Lyttelton. As said above, renovations had been going on for quite a while, and the quake could not stop the new owners.
I went there for lunch and had fish with a salad, served in a cardboard container. Will check out if this will change over time. The fish was very nice. Of course, you can also get fish'n'chips - but also a few other choices, including sushi.
In nice weather it is fabulous to sit on the deck surrounding the nice building although the demolition noise can be frustrating at times. On the other hand it is good to know that amidst all the destruction there is an oasis of normal life you can go to.
Opening hours: Daily 11am - 9 pm
Before becoming a fish restaurant, this place was Pier Six (until September 2007) and then Indian Harbour.
This place is the restaurant with the best view of Lyttelton, sitting right on Norwich Quay, and not on London Street like most other good restaurants of the little town. The small hexagonal or heptagonal single-storey wooden structure even appears a bit lonesome over the busy port. It is overlooking the bay.
You cannot miss it. Norwich Quay is the road you automatically get onto if you leave the tunnel and turn left into Lyttelton.
The interior of the restaurant is warm and cosy. The place is not large but they can fit quite a lot of people in it. For sunny days they have built a fabulous outdoor dining area on the deck.
Earthquake update April 2011/November 2012
Satchmo's has survived the February earthquake but being located in a demolition zone, it has not been possible to re-open this restaurant yet.
The place has reopened - but Satchmo's has gone. What a shame! A true treasure has been lost. The building now houses Roots restaurant. This is a fine dining restaurant which offers 5-, 7- and 10-course degustation menus (with optional wine pairings) for dinner. As you can imagine, this does not come cheap.
Booking for one or more of the 20 places is essential.
Wed/Thu/Fri 11am - 2.30pm and 5.30pm - 9pm
Sat 9am - 2.30pm and 5.30pm - 9pm
Sun 10am - 3pm and 5.30pm - 9pm
Just to remember how Satchmo's was...
You could easily miss Satchmo's as it is squeezed between other narrow buildings - shops and cafés - in the mainstreet in Lyttelton. They call themselves "Lyttelton's best kept secret", and it has been there long before they suddenly discovered high-price fine dining in Lyttelton (London Street, Freeman's).
Satchmo's is a lovely place and has a cosy and warm atmosphere. The food is good but I would not go miles for it, but the atmosphere is very nice. Especially the beautiful courtyard garden at the rear of the restaurant is the place to be - if our summer does not feel like winter, of course.
It is a great place for coffee during the day and dinner. The pizzas are fabulous but also other mains, as well as the bread and dips, and the beers...
The music is different to other places, very jazzy (and pizzas have the same names...) and there is live music, normally on Sunday afternoons (only when fine) and Monday evenings (jam sessions).
Open 7 days, 10am - 9pm.
My favourite dish was the Seafood Trio - mussels, scallops and prawns on pasta.
Once I had the seafood medley - fabulous fish, scallops, greenlipped mussels, prawns... Especially the huge serving of fish was delicious. A real protein bomb, as no sides were served with the dish which, however, was absolutely satisfying.
What a shame! This lovely little restaurant has closed down, not very long after opening. I am afraid the eternal roadworks have not helped the place to attract customers.
Update July 2010
In the meantime the premises have been incorporated into the Irish Pub next door.
My old review of the lovely Thai place... kept here for nostalgic reasons...
This is rather a new addition to the Lyttelton restaurant scene and quite a cute place. Bamboo decor, friendly people, good food. And it is also cheap.
The concept has been more for a takeaway restaurant but the interior is very inviting, so you want to have lunch or dinner at one of the few tables.
The space is of a former dairy which was added to the Irish pub. Now it has has been separated again - but there is a connecting door to the pub because... the Thai restaurant is unlicensed, but you get wine, beer etc. from the Irish pub. So you walk over and place your order at the bar and pay there. The drinks menu is on the tables in the Thai restaurant, so you get an idea of what they have on offer.
The food was very good. Since hubby was in Thailand he tests every Thai restaurant with Pad Thai - and said it was very nice. I had... something... can't remember which seafood dish. But it was delicious. As we will be back soon I will be able to tell you more LOL
Starters (wontons, spring rolls, satay etc.) cost NZ$ 6 to 7, soups $ 9, curries, noodles and fried rice dishes (including several vegetarian choices) $ 11.50, seafood dishes $ 14.50. The most expensive dish on the menu is Seafood Pad Pong Ka Ri at $ 15.50. So really fantastic value for money.
I would probably not recommend to dine in the restaurant on a cold day, as they have a huge gap under the entrance door, and the window front might be still open on a chilly evening... So this would be a clear takeaway day. But I am sure this problem will be fixed when we are getting into winter.
BTW They also have delivery service but only for orders of more than NZ$ 45 (add $ 5 for delivery).
Lunch from 11.30am
Dinner from 5pm
Earthquake update 27 April 2011
It was great to see that the hotel/restaurant did not suffer any structural damage in the February earthquake and has remained open. The food is as good as ever. Just lately I had a wonderful pasta of the day, and my co-eaters were happy with their toasted sandwiches and fish of the day. It is a great place to take visitors to as it breathes so much history and originality.
The hotel will be undergoing some renovation work throughout autumn and winter - which is about now.
The public bar is the most important part of this historic hotel. It is the only pub in town. Compared to the She Café across the street it is the place where you meet locals, and can enjoy a more casual atmosphere.
They feel the competition in the afternoons, as the She Café offers absolutely perfect views of Lyttelton Harbour, and their cakes are sensational. The hotel does not even try to compete with those sweet delights, and offer just some few simple cakes, like carrot cake, but they are really nice. The coffees are very nice, and the service extremely friendly. Let’s say it this way: It is not as posh but somehow more homely.
As the café closes rather early – in the late afternoon – during the week the shifting towards the hotel happens anyway. And really, they have worked hard to offer their stunning views, too, just disturbed by a power pole and some cables. There are many outdoor seating areas and nice two-seaters along the verandah at the front of the building. And I enjoy the nice chats with the staff, and the chef passing occassionally before it gets busy.
The hotel was established in 1870. Then it was known as the Ocean View Family Hotel. From about 1980 to 1995 it was the Smugglers Arms, then it finally became the Governors Bay Hotel.
The food is gastro-pub style, so more hearty than healthy, but much more than just burgers, wedges and fish’n’chips. Mains range from $ 15 to 28 (as May 2008). Guests can choose from more than 50 wines (not all by the glass though) and six local brews on tap.
The hotel serves breakfast from 9am if they have in-house guests – so I would rather not count on that. Normal service starts at 11am, and meals are served until 9pm. The pub is open longer. They are open daily except Christmas Day and Good Friday.
You can also stay at the hotel. They have five guest rooms which are located on the first floor level. Two queen size balcony rooms offer great views of the harbour and directly into the sunrise. The other rooms are two queen size hillside rooms and one twin room (bunk style). No ensuites. Showers and toilets are shared facilities, but all rooms have basins and vanities. Rates from $ 100 per room.
Other options for staying in Governors Bay are several B&B’s.
Photo 2: View from a two-seater on the verandah, the She Café on the right, Lyttelton Harbour and Banks Peninsula in the background.
Since this is a port town, there seems to be plenty of places to get Fish & Chips in an informal setting.
a takeaway of pies, fish and chips, rolls, milk, coke.....that's what the working class mates ask for
Favorite Dish: today I bought a nothing, just took a pic and got a warm smile from the owner
sweet old Building, wood panelling, antic seeting and tables.....and great staff, all in all a great atmosphere
Favorite Dish: the Latte is first class, vegetarien spinach quiche yummy