best tracker Two brilliant breakfasts in Ōtautahi – Techss

Two brilliant breakfasts in Ōtautahi

The food highlights of Lucinda Bennett’s recent trip to Christchurch came courtesy of a couple of unassuming eateries – and some all-important local knowledge.

This is an excerpt from our weekly food newsletter, The Boil Up.

Whenever I visit friends or family in an unfamiliar city, I give myself over to their expertise. Sure, there’s the places I went last time, the ones I follow on Instagram and recommendations I’ve gathered, but ideally, I want to be led. Take me to your local, your work lunch spot, the places you eat all the time!

Visiting Ōtautahi this last week to attend a writing workshop that took the form of an overnight tramp to a DOC hut in Mount Somers, I expected this week’s newsletter to be about the kai eaten during and after our snowy hīkoi, or perhaps about finally visiting various chic Ōtautahi cafes and restaurants such as Londo, Frances Nation Café, Estelle and Grizzly Baked Goods. While these were all delicious experiences (special shout-out to Chloe, our camp cook), I can’t stop thinking about two unexpectedly brilliant breakfasts I had at two different cafes, neither which I would ever have known existed were I not staying with my uncle Andrew, who loves an “unpretentious” brekky spot.

A hot Scottish morning roll at Bunrunners (Photos: Lucinda Bennett)

At Bunrunners, I was the only female customer in a room of old boys and mechanics from the neighbouring garages. Figuring “when in Rome”, I ordered a bun – or a Scottish morning roll as the menu named them – choosing my fillings from a list that included tattie scone, haggis, black pudding, Lorne sausage and plant-based sausage while my uncle went all in and ordered a Full Scottish. An elderly gentleman at a nearby table ordered a strawberry milkshake at 9am on a Monday. A man with a silky mullet nipped in for a pie and coffee to go. I was pleasantly surprised when my “small oat flat white” was delivered in a tulip cup, something that happened everywhere I went in Ōtautahi, prompting me to realise that this is actually how I prefer it. My bun came out quickly and it was a thing of beauty, a light bap with a lacy-edged fried egg, melted cheese, spiced sausage and the right amount of HP sauce, exactly what you want on a crisp autumn morning.

On Tuesday morning, we hadn’t yet decided where we were going when we loaded my pack into Andrew’s car. He offered two equally unknown café options to me and I told him to follow his heart, so we went to Claude’s Kitchen, an unassuming spot in Woolston that Google Maps lists as a pie shop. After Bunrunners, Andrew had my full trust, and he did not let me down. Claude’s was full of old staffroom style chairs upholstered in dark mustard vinyl, with opshop paintings and vintage medallions hanging on walls painted institutional green.

Fluffy corn fritters at Claude’s Kitchen (Photos: Lucinda Bennett)

Most importantly, there was a cabinet stacked with homemade sweets and carbs. Notable among them: pineapple lump slice, pumpkin risotto domes, vegan coconut custard slice and a peanut satay chicken filo. On the counter, a perfectly even layer cake with stripes corresponding to the colours of the transgender flag, and a cooling tray of Portuguese custard tarts – my favourite. I picked one up for later. For breakfast, I couldn’t go past the kiwi classic corn fritters, my patriotism rewarded by a plate piled high with the fluffiest, crispiest I’d ever tried, accompanied by thick curling slices of smoky bacon, sweet relish and a generous smear of cream cheese. Another oat flat white in a tulip and I was sold. I could have happily come here every day, or at least once a week for a treat. I ate my tart at the airport, especially glad to have it when my flight was delayed.

These experiences got me thinking about this style of eatery – the local café that doesn’t promote the beans they use at the door, that has never hired someone to do design or fit-out, that clearly works hard to offer a cabinet and a menu with something for everyone. The kind of café that is common in the regions but can get lost in the fray of a big city, unless you live down the road, or your uncle takes you. I have my own favourites in Tāmaki – Blue Rose in Sandringham, Bun Hut on Dominion Rd, Cozy Cafeteria in Onehunga – but I’d love to know yours, wherever you are in the country!

About admin