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

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

Mitchelli’s Café Rinato

Mitchelli’s Café Rinato

Based in The Tannery, that upmarket hipster oasis in the middle of otherwise industrial Woolston, Mitchelli’s is a thriving little café with a steady stream of clientele.

Mitchelli’s came recommended on the Eggs Benediction Facebook page so I decided to see if their Eggs Benedict was up to the test.

There were a lot of staff working for a Tuesday morning, and the downstairs was at a premium, so we headed up to the mezzanine floor where more tables and even a small meeting room were available.

The girl who took my order (there were three of us dining this particular day) was obviously distracted, she spoke with other staff while I was speaking and I wondered whether she rang everything up. My suspicions were confirmed when one meal was missing a side of toast, another was missing a side of bacon, and the drinks were all served in takeaway cups, when we were dining in. Not a great start to the day.

However, it’s the Eggs Benedict I was there for, and in general it did not disappoint.

It’s unusual for Eggs Benny to be served on focaccia bread, and I wasn’t looking forward to the rosemary overpowering the meal, but the two well oiled and perfectly toasted triangles of focaccia didn’t do anything of the sort.

The free-range smoky bacon was beautifully subtle on the smoke and shaved so fine and delicate that any attempt to crisp it up would have ruined it altogether. It was a stunning bacon and alone, it’s something I would go back for (they do a bacon butty which sounds nothing but sublime!)

Two free-range poached eggs were a little on the small side and much of the egg white had been left behind in the pan. The yolks were full of flavour, expertly cooked and nothing but picture-perfect when broken into.

The hollandaise looked thick and rich with very little run-off from where it was poured – but it had developed a skin by the time it had been delivered which is never an appetising prospect. It had a very light speckling of cracked pepper through the sauce – something that I’d always prefer to add myself if needed, but nevertheless the level of richness and tang were right on the money.

Despite the lackadaisical service lending a bitter air to the meal, I’m sure it was just an anomaly for what otherwise looks like a tightly run ship. The Eggs Benedict is one that’s worth checking out, especially for bacon fans and even more so for the very reasonable prices.

Costs:

with free range smoky bacon $16.50
with hot smoked salmon $17.50
with spinach $16.50

 

MITCHELLI’S CAFE RINATO

The Tannery, 3 Garlands Rd, Woolston

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

Salt on the Pier Café

Salt on the Pier Café

Salt on the Pier (the downstairs café) is one of my favourite spots in town. It’s always busy and the location is second to none in Christchurch.

Their no-frills Eggs Benedict is free of pretentiousness and arrives pretty much as you would expect it based on the menu description.

Two crispy pieces of sourdough with nicely cooked bacon, two supermarket triangle hashbrowns and two eggs on top. A massive bonus for the dish is the clear ability to split the dish into two separate parts, each with a bit of everything on.

The hollandaise is a little weak in colour and lacks that tangy hit, and it’s also runnier than many others. Disappointing is the inclusion of cracked pepper in the sauce itself and chopped parsley on top. Those should both be optional. Put a couple of sprigs of parsley as a garnish and let me put my own pepper on if needed. Take my wife for example – she hates parsley and cracked pepper – so that excludes this dish from the menu for her, except she wouldn’t know until she ordered it.

Overall, for $20 I would expect at least a homemade hash, but the meal as a whole isn’t an unsatisfying one taste-wise.

Costs:

Bacon, Salmon or Spinach $20.00

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