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.

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

Coffee Therapy

Coffee Therapy

After walking the central city looking for somewhere to eat breakfast, I stumbled across Coffee Therapy (or just Therapy as they call themselves different things on different mediums).

There were a handful of people dining there, and the food they were eating looked ok, so I thought I’d try out their eggs benedict.

It took around 3 minutes flat for my meal to be delivered to my table, which automatically raised a big red flag.

As the plate was placed in front of me the pungent bitter stench of warm alfalfa sprouts hit me like a freight train. They tasted horribly bitter too and overpowered the whole meal. I mean, I have nothing against sprouts, but stick them on the side. Any cook should know that when alfalfa is warmed, the bitterness factor is greatly increased.

In the short time it took to make, they managed to get one egg rock hard and crumbly, and the other egg slightly underdone. How someone can manage that cooking the eggs together, I don’t know. I can only assume that one egg was already made or they were microwaved.

The bacon also seemed too uniformly cooked to have been near a hotplate or frypan – again, I’m putting my money on the microwave.

At least there was an English Muffin on the bottom, but this had barely been waved past a toaster or hotplate and wasn’t toasted enough to hold up any moisture whatsoever.

The hollandaise was nice enough but a very sparse helping. I recognised the taste and texture as one straight out of the jar. I can appreciate some places not making their own, and that’s fine – it can be a fickle sauce to make properly for a small cafe.

There was also a splattering of balsamic reduction on the plate, purely for visual effect as it was impossible to get enough to influence any of the food.

Overall, even for the relatively low price bracket, I walked away extremely disappointed and wouldn’t recommend Coffee Therapy’s eggs benedict to anyone.

Cost: Eggs Benedict with bacon $16.50

 

COFFEE THERAPY

77 Hereford Street, Christchurch

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

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

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