Sunday, 6 March 2011

Cook 'N' With Gas Bistro, Christchurch - New Zealand (and the other meals)

Christchurch Cathedral

Last week I had to be in New Zealand for a few days , not for fun but for work :)
I was going to be in Christchurch, Napier and Auckland in the span of 4 days - which didn't quite happen because of the major earthquake in Christchurch last Tuesday. 

I have never been so scared in my life T___T 
I thought for sure the earth was gonna open up and swallowed us whole when the car was rocking while we waited at the red light - naturally I freaked out ! (Big time !)

Arrived in Christchurch on Monday afternoon, spent few hours working in the hotel while waiting to meet up with my colleague to go for dinner.
Since most of Christchurch's restaurants were still closed for renovation from the first earthquake last September, finding a place that does New Zealand cuisine is not as easy.

After researching for almost a week, finally decided to try this award winning NZ bistro, Cook 'N' With Gas, located near the Art Gallery.

Cook 'n' With Gas - Front Desk

Getting to the restaurant from the hotel was another story of its own. 
My colleague is a New Zealander, but lives in Auckland, so pretty much not to familiar with the streets of Christchurch. I'm even more useless as this was my first ever trip to New Zealand LOL
With just a CBD map from the hotel in hand, we walked around the city block for a good 45minutes before we got to the restaurant.

And the best part of the whole story is ? The restaurant was less than 10minutes walk from the hotel -___-;
I truly believe that should he has stopped and asked for direction, we wouldn't have to walk for 45minutes - men and their ego *tsk*.

Logo ; Sparkling Water ;
Asahi Beer ; Knick Knacks

Cook 'n' With Gas is an award winning bistro, cooking modern New Zealand cuisine in a relaxed and warm atmosphere. 
They have a wide selection of local wines and beers to choose from, naturally I settled for just sparkling water (New Zealand sparkling water though :D) and my colleague had Asahi Beer.

Complimentary Appetizer

We received a complimentary appetizer of citrus chicken on shredded vegetables. The flavours were delicate and the vegetables were crisp and sweet.

Main Dining Area ; Chandelier ; Paper & Bulldog Clip ; Fellow Diners

It is interesting to see the contrast between the food served and the decor. The foods may be of fine dining quality but everything else was just so casual. The table is lined with white paper complete with  bulldog clips to secure them down LOL
The staffs were casually attired in black polo shirt and black pants - very casual, friendly and warm services. 
The walls were lined with frames of awards and acknowledgements that the bistro has received since they opened back in 1999. 

Meadows Mushroom NZD $18.50 (AUD $ 13.50)
Field mushroom & rabbit parfait with mushroom toast, pickled mushroom, rocket with beetroot, plum chutney and mushroom glaze.

The starter of meadows mushroom showcased the mushrooms that are currently in season. The mushroom and rabbit parfait was delicious ! Love the earthy mushroom flavour and the creaminess of the parfait, although I couldn't taste much of the rabbit. Perfect when eaten together with the crisp mushroom toast and the chutney.

Peppered Kelp & Green Bean Fritter  NZD $16.00 (AUD $ 11.60)
w/ coriander, gazpacho and water cress

My colleague made a valid and funny comment when he saw my plate of starter, "Did they ran out of white plate and had to run to their granny's and borrowed one off her ?" LOL !!

I can't figure out why the other dishes were presented in white plate except this one. It kinda made the plate so cramped and messy in a way.
The ornate design of the plate has outshine the dish itself :P

The kelps !

I ordered this dish because I've never had kelp fritter before and I'm glad I ordered it. It was delicious and light, the kelp itself tasted like those Japanese seaweed usually found in sushi (you know which one right, the vinegared one).  
The fritter itself was packed full with the kelp and broad bean, served with wilted spinach, topped with a mixture of crushed broad bean, horseradish creme and wasabi.
The gazpacho was refreshing and tangy, which surprisingly worked well with the fritter.
I wouldn't have thought of putting fritters and soup together :)

Hallmark Lamb  NZD $40.00 (AUD $ 29.00)
Olive rubbed carved rack and grilled lamb ribeye with tomato, garlic, potato confit, silver beet slaw, fetta and rosemary dumplings.

It was a plate of generous serving of various lamb cuts - you got the rib eye and then also the rack, cooked perfectly by the look of it. 
Underneath all that was a mound of potato and slaw and more lamb ! 
The fetta and rosemary deep fried dumpling were delicious, I was told.

Inside Feta & Rosemary Dumpling

Classical Gas Belly of Pork  NZD$37.00 (AUD $ 27.00)
Sliced onto a truffled kumara & olive whip, buttered greens, x-factor sauce, crackling, sweet corn and brassica. 

I was shocked when this tower of pork belly arrived 0__o
It was huge !!! Didn't even know how to tackle it other than toppling the tower of food LOL

There were 2 slices of thick pork belly which was very tender and not too fatty at all. 
Then there were layer after layer of various vegetables : what looks like half kumara (a.k.a. sweet potato) mash, silverbeet, brocolli and cabbage. Topped with super crunchy pork crackling and brassica (mustard leaves). The sauce was sweet corn puree and pork jus.

Needless to say, I couldn't finish my main - which is very rare !! I'm a firm believer of "must not waste food" motto ^_*
The serving was beyond generous !

View from the other side of the tower

Unfortunately we just couldn't fit in any more desserts ( or puddings as they say it here in New Zealand). Although I was eyeing the impressive crepe suzette that was being flambéed at the table next to us. My colleague noticed it and he said we can order one just for photographic purposes ROFL.
Had a quick thought over it but decided to be good :)

Cook 'n' With Gas

It was a lovely dinner at Cook 'n' With Gas, the foods were impressive and some of the ingredients used are quite unusual, such as the kelp, brassica and seems like they are big fan of kumara here :)
The portions were very generous for the price we paid, especially with our strong Australian dollar hehehehe.
I checked in on their website after the earthquake and I'm glad to hear that the restaurant is still standing and no one was harmed. However, they are still closed for the time being, perhaps with all the aftershocks and the rescue operations that is still on going. 

Lookie !

It was an opportune time that as we stepped out of the restaurant, The Christchurch Tramway Restaurant passed us. 
You can explore the city while dining in the tram - next time ^_^

The Chalice at Cathedral Square ; Streets of Christchurch;
Maori Phone Booth ; Christchurch Civic Building - Te Pou Herenga Waka

Christchurch Cathedral @ Night

One last shot of the Christchurch Cathedral before we retire to the hotel which was across it.
It is quite eerie to think that less than 24hours later, the cathedral was severely damaged by the earthquake *shudder*.

So that was the first and last proper meal I had during this NZ trip - the rest of the trip become a survival trip where I'm just trying to get back home to Sydney.
Obviously the rest of customer visits that was planned had to be cancelled. 

Tuesday morning, we went to visit a customer in Geraldine, about 2.5hours drive out of Christchurch. After the visit, we did the touristy thing and stopped by the beautiful Rakaia Gorge on the way back into the town. 
The water was just so breathtaking - milky blue - amazing....
There were a few people doing trout fishing there, apparently selling trout is illegal in New Zealand (salmon is okay), so the only way to eat one is to catch one ^_^

Trout Fishing @ Rakaia Gorge

Pretty opaque blue water

If we didn't stop by this place, we would have been already back in Christchurch city - either having lunch in the CBD or already waiting at the airport for our flight out. 
We missed the quake by a mere 20minutes T____T We were very very lucky and blessed !

Since the city was a gridlock and the airport was closed, my colleague made an executive decision to drive almost 8 hours into the small town of Blenheim in Malborough (the wine county). 
Managed to find a motel that can accomodate us (all of the accomodations in the small town was fully booked out because everyone just escaped to there) , too tired to eat anything but had to eat, so just get a quick bite at McDonalds :P

McDonald's Crispy Chicken Bacon Deluxe Meal
(nicely plated onto a white plate by my colleague LOL)

McDonald's @ Blenheim, NZ

This NZ trip is becoming a McDonald's trip LOL 
Breakfast at McD before heading to the Blenheim airport to catch a flight out into Wellington.

Hash Brown ; Long Black ; Trim Cappuccino ; Bacon & Egg Bagel

I am hooked on the McD' Bagel Bacon & Egg - they are freaking addictive !!!
Had it 2 days in a row :P The bagel was really soft and fresh and so much better than the English muffins. 
I want bagel I want bagel !!!
Few tips when ordering coffee here in New Zealand : skim capp = trim capp ( no wonder they looked at me funny when i asked for skim capp) , then you can have the option of having cocoa or cinnamon on your cappuccino.
The long black that my colleague ordered also comes with a pot of hot water, just in case it's too dark ^_^

Water & Chunky Chop Chip Cookie
(from the hotel mini bar)

Arrived in Auckland late at night and was too buggered to eat anything, so just grabbed a bottle of water and a choc chip cookie from the mini bar.

There you go, my first ever New Zealand trip that comes with an earthquake and lots of McDonalds.

Cook 'n' With Gas
23 Worcester Blvd
(opp. Court Theatre between the Museum and Art Gallery)
Christchurch, New Zealand
Phone  : +64 (3) 377 9166


  1. I LOVE McDonalds hash browns. i'm sure they're not good for you especially with extra salt they're my weakness when driving early in the morning on a road trip somewhere :-)

  2. just have a bottle (or two) of water handy to flush out all the salts :P

  3. u can proudly say 'i survived an earthquake'
    the views are stunning!

  4. betty : i can say that, can't I ? not an experience I wanted to go through for my first visit to the country though LOL The views there was amazing, and I love the cool, wet weather, perfect :)