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

Hello Sunday

Hello Sunday

Hello Sunday is a gorgeous little cottage/café hidden in behind The Colombo in Sydenham.

The menu is mouthwatering and the cabinet food on display is enough to make anyone go back time and again.

The pictures I had seen of Hello Sunday’s salmon eggs benedict convinced me to pay them a visit to see if it tasted as good as it looked.

When the plate arrived, it made a stunning picture of glossy vivid colours and I couldn’t wait to tuck in.

On the bottom was a herb potato hash which tasted nice, but pushed the idea of what I personally would call a hash. It was more of a potato bake – with slices of potato compressed into a slab. Mine was so dense it was a little undercooked – a fact that seemed to shock the staff when I told them – so I expect this was an exception to the norm.

The salmon was amazing – no flaked or sliced supermarket salmon here, this was genuine large chunks of beautifully heated and smoked salmon, each one melting in my mouth.

Sitting on top were two of the most perfectly poached free range eggs coated in a frugal amount of albeit delicious hollandaise – which I may normally have an issue with, but in this particular eggs benedict the salmon is the hero and too much sauce could have detracted from it.

Garnished with a pesto drizzle, a few sesame and sunflower seeds and a wonderfully peppery watercress, Hello Sunday’s eggs benedict is a dish I would gladly return for. They also do a smoked mushroom version and if you make your way out to the amenities, you will pass a smoker filled with meaty portabello mushrooms – which smells amazing!

Costs:

Eggs Benedict with Salmon $21.50

with bacon $20

with smoked mushrooms $20

 

HELLO SUNDAY

6 Elgin St, Sydenham, Christchurch 8023

Under the Red Verandah

Under the Red Verandah

Having risen from the rubble of its popular predecessor, Under the Red Verandah is an urban oasis which, on any given day, is always a bustling hive of activity.

The atmosphere is a homely one and the staff are more than welcoming. But it’s their Eggs Benedict that came recommended by a fan of the dish and a visitor to Eggs Benediction.

UTRV’s Benedict is a simple one, and simple is good if all the elements are presented at their very best – which they definitely were.

Technically speaking, an English Muffin would have been ideal, but UTRV uses a couple of slices of fried bread. Let’s face it, who doesn’t like fried bread? Had it been just toast then it would have let the dish down, but there was something about this fried bread that seemed to complement the other ingredients nicely.

Six, yes six, small rashers of well cooked bacon sat atop the bread and I had no trouble including a generous piece of bacon with every mouthful. The two large organic, free range poached eggs were easily the best I’ve had so far, cooked to perfection and with a rich coloured yolk – they were an absolute joy to break into. The runny yolk ran down and soaked into the fried bread lifting every fork-load to lip-smacking levels.

The basic hollandaise had just the right amount of tanginess and married the other elements together perfectly. The chopped flat-leaf parsley actually added something to the dish and didn’t overpower anything else.

While the price is a perhaps little on the high side for what it was, if it’s a no-frills Eggs Benedict you’re after, then Under the Red Verandah should be top of your list. I’ll definitely be paying them another visit.

Hat-tip to Paula Rountree for the recommendation!

Costs:

Eggs Benedict with Bacon $20.50

with Smoked Salmon $22.00

 

UNDER THE RED VERANDAH

29 Tancred Street, Linwood, Christchurch 8011

Little Pom’s

Little Pom’s

Little Pom’s is a small café latched onto the side of Pomeroy’s Old Brewery Inn on Kilmore Street. After having it recommended by several friends I decided it was time to check out their much lauded Eggs Benedict.

The description on the menu certainly paints a mouthwatering premise – Little Pom’s Benny, smoked bacon, poached eggs, cheddar buttermilk biscuits, corn, avocado, chipotle lime hollandaise. The drool certainly ebbs from the corner of your mouth when you lay eyes on the subsequent price – at $25, this is likely the most expensive Eggs Benedict in town. It had better walk the talk!

Thankfully, it’s very good, but not everyone’s cup of tea.

Let’s start from the bottom up.

Note to all cafe’s – Eggs Benedict always looks stunning on a black plate, and this was no exception. The “cheddar buttermilk biscuits” were intriguing in that they very much had the texture of a home-made English muffin with a hint of cheddar cheese. I’m not sure what I expected, maybe something cracker-like, but I guess it follows the American way of pretty much calling anything a biscuit (except biscuits – which are of course cookies). Nevertheless, they were perfect.

Sitting on them was a salsa of smashed avocado and corn, not your traditional Eggs Benedict fare, but it works. The creamy texture of the avocado matched the velvety eggs and hollandaise, and the noticeable sweetness of the corn played well against the tangy sauce.

Two perfectly grilled rashers of bacon followed, smoked, but not smoky and sitting on top were a couple of nicely sized, textbook poached eggs.

The hollandaise is amazing, but here is where the dish will polarise some people. The chipotle lime sauce certainly carries a kick with it – nothing serious or anything, but it does build up to be a dominating feature. It compliments the rest of the dish perfectly but if you don’t like a bit of heat in your food then this is going to be an expensive lesson.

I asked the waiter if they offered the option of a standard hollandaise to which I received a resounding “no”. Likewise too with the ability to switch out bacon for salmon – but to be fair, salmon just wouldn’t work in this dish.

So with that in mind – I cannot recommend Little Pom’s Eggs Benny to anyone who can’t handle their spice, but to everyone else it should be high on your list of brunches to check out.

Cost:

Little Pom’s Eggs Benny $25

 

LITTLE POM’S

294 Kilmore St, Christchurch Central, Christchurch 8011

Robert Harris Rolleston

Robert Harris Rolleston

What was formerly Rendezvous, has recently been refitted to become a very classy Robert Harris Café in Rolleston. The place is light, clean and airy, catering for intimate dining, kids and large groups.

Despite being reasonably busy with an early lunch crowd, their RH Eggs Benedict was ordered and delivered within 10 minutes, which was enough time to enjoy the terrific coffee on offer.

The first thing that struck me was the dark plate, which really made the meal stick out with its bright, vivid colours. The baby spinach served on the side was fresh, not wilted and a perfect accompaniment.

RH Eggs Benedict comes served on a toasted parmesan English muffin, which I was hesitant about, but the parmesan only came in as a subtle aftertaste and didn’t affect any other flavours. If I’m to be honest, it was genuinely delicious.

The two free range eggs were generous in size and couldn’t have been poached any better. They sat on two slightly crispy rashers of bacon, which seemed a little frugal, but they were of a decent size and cooked well.

On the menu the hollandaise is described as lemon and dijon – and it had a beautiful citrus tang to it as well as being just runny enough to roll off of the eggs and coat the food below. I found it interesting that they mention the mustard, a common hollandaise ingredient, as very few cafés do.

Overall the RH Eggs Benedict was up there with the best for the price of $17.50 and the smart new setting made it all the more pleasurable.

Costs:

RH Eggs Benedict with bacon $17.50
with salmon $18.50

 

ROBERT HARRIS ROLLESTON

Shop 2, Rolleston Square, Rolleston

The Coffee Club Harewood

The Coffee Club Harewood

I was planning on checking out the Eggs Benedict with bacon at The Coffee Club Harewood, but as I walked up to the door a sign invited me to “Try our Mushroom and Spinach Benedict”.

With mushrooms being one of my all-time favourite foods, so how could I possibly resist. Besides, I’ve only reviewed Eggs Benny with bacon so far, so perhaps it was time for a change.

The menu offered up four variations of Benedict, with bacon, salmon, ham and the vegetarian option available. All reasonably priced with the salmon being the most expensive at $19.00.

Within 2 minutes of sitting down my coffee and OJ had been delivered by the young smiling staff and within 5 minutes my Eggs Benedict had arrived. Sometimes when food arrives too quickly, it can be an ominous sign that too much is precooked and ready to churn out at a moment’s notice. But not in this instance.

The first thing that hit me was the sheer size of the meal – it was a BIG plate of food for only $17.00 and it was presented stacked high but intelligently enough so that it was easy to get a mouthful of everything in each bite.

Two generous pieces of ciabatta (a top and bottom slice) were brushed with olive oil and nicely toasted, although the bottom of the ciabatta took some work to get a knife through. Hardly a deal-breaker though.

The baby spinach was raw, which is fine when it’s the young leaves because they wilted with the heat of the perfectly soft, tender and buttery mushrooms.

The two cage-free poached eggs were large, plump and ever so slightly under-done allowing for the cooking process to continue until they were eaten. The porous ciabatta readily soaked up any yolk and juices, which made even the very last mouthful a combination of every flavour on the plate.

It’s the hollandaise that can make or break the meal, and The Coffee Club’s hollandaise was a good consistency, just runny enough to allow it to get in all the nooks and crannies but thick enough to have a good velvety texture. The colour was on the pale side and it could have had a little more tang to it, but it was still rich enough to complemented the dish perfectly.

The Coffee Club Harewood’s Mushroom and Spinach Benedict is the best I’ve had in a long time and the sheer size and value of the meal meant I walked away full and very happy indeed. I’ll be back another day to try out the bacon and/or salmon version too.

Costs:

With bacon $18.00

With smoked salmon $19.00

With spinach & mushrooms $17.00

With ham $17.00

 

THE COFFEE CLUB HAREWOOD

Spitfire Square, 530 Memorial Ave, Christchurch Airport, Christchurch 8053

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