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.

Brigittes Restaurant & Bar

Brigittes Restaurant & Bar

For 35 years, Brigittes has been a popular hangout in the heart of Merivale. Many establishments have come and gone during that time, but Brigittes has survived with an unspoken air of casual elitism.

With a choice of Eggs Benedict with Bacon or Salmon, I decided (as I often do) to stick with the bacon for this review and headed outside to the lovely courtyard.

Within around four minutes my Eggs Benedict was served to the table – in fact it even beat my coffee it was so fast. Initial thought upon delivery was “where’s the rest of it?”

A single slice of toasted sourdough sat under two rounds of shoulder bacon, yes, shoulder bacon. For a place with the reputation and pedigree of Brigittes, I wouldn’t expect the cheapest cut of bacon to be used. Even mall-level eateries use rasher bacon.

Shoulder bacon is notoriously hard to crisp up evenly, and this proved to be the case with the outsides of the bacon crisp and the middle all pink and soft like boiled shaved ham. It was a major disappointment.

Thankfully two perfectly poached eggs sat on top and they were covered in one of the nicest Hollandaise sauces I’ve tried to date. It was beautifully creamy and thick while being runny enough to get amongst a good forkload.

The balsamic reduction and pesto X drizzled on the plate was a complete waste of time as there wasn’t nearly enough to affect the taste of any more than a couple of mouthfuls.

I walked away feeling hungrier than when I walked in, and having paid an inflated $19 for the experience.

Costs:

Eggs Benedict with bacon or cold-smoked salmon $19

 

BRIGITTES RESTAURANT & BAR

209 Papanui Road, Merivale, Christchurch

Fava Café

Fava Café

About 12 months ago I visited Fava Café for Eggs Benedict and remember enjoying it – so I thought it was due time to go back and write it up for Eggs Benediction.

Due to the fact my default go-to Eggs Benedict is the bacon variety, for a change I decided to try the correctly named Eggs Florentine (or Eggs Benedict with salmon in most other places).

The meal was delivered within 10 minutes, during which time I sipped on my latte and freshly squeezed OJ (around $11 for those two alone – OUCH!), and at face value the plate of food put in front of me looked inviting.

Looks can be deceiving.

As I broke open the two eggs (always a good idea straight away to stop them cooking), one of them was so hard-boiled I could have broken a window with it, while the other was slightly under done, but fine. I struggle to comprehend how someone can cook two eggs and get each one at opposite ends of the cooked spectrum. Baffling and highly disappointing.

The Akaroa salmon was delicious. It wasn’t some sliced supermarket product, but a tasty flaked meaty salmon that made me wonder why I don’t have Florentine more often, which I will.

The “English muffin” was a conundrum. It had the look and texture of a burger bun – even having sesame seeds on one side, but tasted like a muffin. However when it’s all soaked in hollandaise and the yolk from the one runny egg – it’s all about the texture – which wasn’t great.

I have come to accept that the inclusion of cracked pepper mixed in the hollandaise is the norm around Christchurch, but Fava’s hollandaise didn’t. Instead it was pre-cracked on top, which I personally feel should be up to the diner. Bring a pepper mill over with the meal and ask of they want it on – it’s not that hard and takes no time for that little bit of personal service. That rant aside, Fava’s hollandaise was tasty and thick, but still runny enough to get throughout the elements on the plate.

The meal came with wilted baby spinach under the eggs and some micro herbs to garnish, as well as a couple of lemon slices – an essential accompaniment with a Florentine and the citrus lifted the whole dish.

As disappointing as Fava’s Florentine was this particular day, I have to admit that as a mouthful with a bit of everything – it was tasty. I hope, for Fava’s sake, that the chef just dropped the ball this time around.

Costs:

Eggs Benedict (bacon) $17.90

Eggs Florentine (salmon) $18.90

 

FAVA CAFE

236 Centaurus Rd, St Martins

Beach Café

Beach Café

Timewarp back to mid 2015 and the Beach Café had some of the finest food on the east side of Chch.

Their Eggs Benedict was absolutely to die for. I would sing its praises to anyone who would listen, and often to those who weren’t listening either.

Instead of an English muffin or brioche, they had a slab of the most delicious home-made hash brown. Not your typical Eggs Benny, but combined with expertly poached eggs and generous helpings of a sweet but tangy hollandaise – it had me going back time and time again.

 

Fast forward to March 2016 and the café has undergone a facelift (for the better) and has new owners, chef and staff. Always a nervous time when you’re looking forward to what you consider to be the best version of your favourite meal.

Sadly, my favourite Eggs Benny is no more.

Firstly, the large black plate had a tomato sauce zig-zagged over the whole plate area. Now don’t get me wrong, it was a nice sauce and I’d have loved to have dipped a fried sausage or chips into it, but applying it so unavoidably to an Eggs Benny is just criminal.

I couldn’t get away from it. Every mouthful was tainted by the tomato sauce. It mixed in with the hollandaise and sweetened it to the point where it was unrecognisable as a hollandaise. Now I appreciate the sentiment, but give it to me in a dish on the side as an option. Don’t force it down my throat.

The English muffin was a quality one – nicely toasted and thick enough to provide a decent mouthful with each bite. It wasn’t a standard supermarket English muffin, which I have to give kudos for.

The two eggs were a disappointment. One was pretty much perfectly cooked and the other was essentially hard-boiled. Both were extremely small and it seemed like much of the surrounding egg white was left in the pan. How you manage to get one egg right and the other so wrong is beyond me.

Small bacon rashers on each half of the muffin looked more generous than they were due to the eggs being so small, but they were cooked sufficiently. A little crispier may have added more flavour to the dish as a whole and balanced out that sweet sauce.

The hollandaise tasted fine by itself but as mentioned was soon drowned out and diluted my the needless tomato sauce. Perhaps more hollandaise would have helped, but because the eggs were so small, there wasn’t much to put it on.

While my personal preference is bacon, I couldn’t help but think if I’d had the salmon, that it would have been completely overpowered by the tomato sauce. And at $23.50 for the salmon, I would have been pretty pissed off.

 

So I walked out of the Beach Café bitterly disappointed, feeling like I’d been robbed of a precious memory.

 

Costs:

Bacon $18.50

Spinach $18.00

Smoked salmon $23.50

 

BEACH CAFE

16 Beach Rd, North New Brighton, Christchurch 8083

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