Ris’tretto Café

Ris’tretto Café

Ris’tretto Café is one of the best hidden suburban gems in Christchurch. The coffee is award-winning (and rightfully so) and the staff are just so welcoming that even on your first visit, they make you feel like a regular.

While I hadn’t tried their Eggs Benedict before, I have had Ris’tretto’s Mushrooms on Toast – and it was one of the best brunches I’ve had in a long time. So I had high hopes that their Benedict was also going to leave me speechless.

Alas, it wasn’t to be.

One and a half large slices of crispy focaccia lined the base of the plate and were it not for the extra side of bacon I ordered, the meal would have looked like a toddler surfing on a 12ft longboard. Did I mention they were crispy? You had to be extra careful how you tackled each mouthful so not to get lacerated gums from the Ginsu Knife-like crust. This may not have been an issue had there been enough wet stuff on the plate for the bread to soak up.

Which brings me to the two smallish (one considerably smaller than the other) overcooked eggs. Only just overcooked I might add, but enough for the yolk that was runny to have no effect whatsoever on the rest of the ingredients.

Likewise, the hollandaise was frugal and had formed a film over it by the time my meal was delivered. It was barely runny enough to make it to the base of the egg. All this lack of moisture made the whole dish a struggle to get through. I even had to order a second coffee just to wash it down.

The dish comes with 2 rashers of shoulder bacon (4 including my extra order) and it’s hard to tell if they were boiled or microwaved, but I find it hard to believe they came anywhere near a hotplate.

There are many reasons to visit Ris’tretto Café – the coffee, the atmosphere, and the wonderful people – and I for one will be going back there, but I’ll be having the Mushrooms on Toast, because the Eggs Benedict was a genuine let down.

 

Cost:

Eggs Benedict with Bacon $18.50 (+$5 for the extra 2 rashers of bacon)

 

RIS’TRETTO CAFÉ

670 Barbadoes Street, St Albans.

The Coffee Club Hornby

The Coffee Club Hornby

On a whim, I dropped into The Coffee Club Hornby knowing that the café chain shares the same menu, and hoping that from experience, the quality of their Eggs Benedict should be fairly high.

Past visits to The Coffee Club have been met with generous servings of food, but the Hornby franchise produced a rather frugal helping.

If you’re going to serve Eggs Benedict on two giant slabs of ciabatta then it pays to have enough food, and especially sauce, for the bread to be eaten with (see here for a comparative Coffee Club comparison). Three rashers of bacon (two on one slice and one on the other) were no doubt suffering from extreme loneliness adrift on these vast bread rafts. The imbalance was enough to send anyone’s OCD into overdrive.

The two poached cage-free eggs were cooked to opposite ends of the spectrum. One was perfectly soft and runny, while the other was so overcooked even the white was crumbly, let alone the yolk. I might suggest due to the couple of minutes it spent sitting unevenly under the heat lamps waiting to be delivered to the table. This didn’t help with the overall dryness of the meal.

The hollandaise was typically tasty, but nowhere near enough to enjoy with every mouthful, especially with the aforementioned ciabatta overload.

There is a hashbrown pictured, which does not come with the meal. Add a ridiculous $3 extra for this. Now imagine what an even more paltry plate of food it would have been without it. For $18.50 – you’d think that including a 20c supermarket hashbrown wouldn’t exactly bankrupt the business.

Overall, sure the Eggs Benedict was somewhat tasty – but the lack of consistency, balance and overall value was really disappointing.

 

Cost:

Eggs Benedict with Bacon $18.50 ($3 for a hashbrown).

 

THE COFFEE CLUB HORNBY

Shop 1, 19 Chalmers Street, Hornby.

Milieu

Milieu

Milieu is situated in the heart of Addington, an area somewhat starved of quality eateries. It’s surrounded by bustling offices and sees a constant flow of patronage whether they are eating or just grabbing a coffee on the go.

Their Eggs Benedict with bacon is a no-frills meal, but proves simplicity, when done well, can be a pleasure.

The biggest positive is their use of a first-rate English Muffin (sourced from local bakers Breads of Europe), which trumps sliced bread or your supermarket variety muffin every day of the week.

On top were nicely crisped rashers of bacon and a couple of perfectly poached free range eggs. The generous serving of hollandaise was a good colour and fairly standard in terms of taste.

There were a couple of hash-brown triangles on the side, which can sometimes bring the dish down, but these happened to be nice and crisp, texturally complimenting the rest of the meal.

The café was probably half full, but that didn’t hinder their Eggs Benedict being delivered within 5-10 minutes of sitting down. They also do a salmon/spinach and mushroom/spinach version.

Cost:

Eggs Benedict with Bacon $18.50

 

MILIEU

112 Wrights Rd, Addington, Christchurch 8024

The Caffeine Laboratory

The Caffeine Laboratory

It was a mission to find an eggs benedict today! The original place I wanted to go to was closed for some reason and the back-up place I had in mind only serves food on Saturdays.

So I ended up taking a stroll down New Regent Street, praying that one of the cafés down there served eggs benedict.

I got to The Caffeine Laboratory on the corner of Goucester and New Regent and perused the menu in the window. No eggs benedict. For a place that serves a range of breakfasts and brunches, I found this quite odd. So I traversed the length of New Regent St once more and thought, hang on, they have all the components to make eggs benedict on the menu, so I wonder if they would make one anyway?

So I decided to pay them a visit. I asked if they do eggs benedict and the chef looked up and said “Sure, we’ve got everything we need to make it, so why not!” Great news, I was getting hungry by this stage.

Because they don’t officially serve eggs benedict, at least I knew this wasn’t going to be some cookie-cutter, churned out meal, and man was that the case.

This plate of food was a thing of beauty. In fact several people stopped eating their own meals and turned around to check it out.

First thing of note was the hollandaise served separately in a small jug. Why more places don’t do this by default, I do not know. I could add as little or as much as I wanted at any time, and it was a beautifully fresh sauce made by someone who knows how to balance flavours.

Underneath were two fried rounds of crusty bread of which kind I couldn’t quite pick, but it was similar to a large French-stick round. Sitting atop was a healthy layer of perfectly wilted spinach, just softened enough to still hold its shape.

The two eggs, well, they couldn’t have been poached with any more pinpoint accuracy if they tried. Exquisitely cooked and rich with flavour. The same goes for the few rashers of bacon – fried to crispy perfection without being fried to a crisp.

The whole meal was garnished with some baby beet leaves which were a pleasure to eat in themselves. A distinct flavour, but still subtle enough not to overpower any of the other elements.

For a café that doesn’t serve eggs benedict, it seems criminal that what is one of the best examples of the dish in town isn’t readily available on the menu. Perhaps if more people ask for it, they may have to reconsider. I’ll definitely be going back to order it and recommending it to anyone in search of a quality brunch.

Cost:

Eggs Benedict with bacon – $20

 

THE CAFFEINE LABORATORY

1 New Regent Street, Christchurch

Frank’s Café

Frank’s Café

Frank’s Café, tucked away in the corner of Eastgate Mall is a tiny place, with minimal seating, yet manages to transcend anything else the mall has to offer in terms of food quality.

Their eggs benedict, while simple is very tasty and excellent value for the price.

Ciabatta is an excellent choice for an English muffin replacement as it’s porous and holds egg yolk and hollandaise very well. Frank’s had two generous squares of toasted ciabatta which were topped by a layer of basic baby spinach leaves.

The bacon was crisped well, and obviously cooked in a sandwich press going by its tell-tale flatness. Both eggs were perfectly poached and were covered in a thick hollandaise, which could have been a more generous serving if I’m to be honest.

There was a solitary hash-brown triangle that was straight out of the supermarket, and in fact you could whip up this exact eggs benedict by visiting any supermarket. However Frank’s doesn’t build it up to be anything other than a no frills, basic eggs benedict, and the price reflects exactly that.

I’ve had far worse eggs benedicts from places with far loftier reputations. Consider this as an alternative next time you’re milling around Eastgate’s food hall.

Cost:

Eggs Benedict with bacon and a hashbrown – $15.50

 

FRANK’S CAFE

Eastgate Mall, 20 Buckleys Rd, Linwood, Christchurch 8062

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