8 Places to Elevate Your Dining Experience

When was the last time you treated yourself to a slow dinner with friends and family or visited a restaurant that is a little bit special? We think it's about now.

Two woman dining outside at Black Estate.

Words by: Petra Nyman

Photography by: Nancy Zhou

Eating out should be about so much more than just ​​sustenance – it should be about spending quality time with your favourite humans, exploring new tastes and taking time to savour fresh experiences. With a constantly growing number of exceptional restaurants around town offering world-class fare, there has never been a better time to enjoy wonderful hospitality in Canterbury.  In this guide, we have gathered together some of the best restaurants in and around Christchurch that produce inspirational dishes in the kitchen and know how to look after their guests.

Woman eating dish with red wine at Story.

Story

Shop no 8, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch

Sitting pretty on one of Christchurch’s most iconic streets, Story invites you to sit back, relax and enjoy set-menu dining. Current chef, Shafeeq, turns local, simple ingredients into incredible taste experiences. The three-course menu changes daily according to the fresh produce available. Expect to be surprised, well looked after and well-fed. Keep an eye out for pop-ups and themed dinners featuring guest chefs.

 

A table of plates at Black Estate.

Black Estate

614 Omihi Road, Waipara

Arguably well worth the drive up North, Black Estate is a true foodie destination. Its a la carte menu is created with local, organic and spray-free produce. Choose from the vegetarian, fish or meat option and be prepared to have food envy either way, as all the food at Black Estate is simply delicious. Pair your dinner with a full wine tasting to find out what this special spot is really all about.

 

Food on a plate.

Chillingworth Road

478 Cranford Street, Papanui, Christchurch

Chillingworth Road’s degustation dining, which centres around classic cuisine, done well, is one to shout about. The culinary style at this Redwood restaurant is classic European fare influenced by seasonal local flavours and ingredients. Choose from five-, seven- or nine-course degustation options, with dishes served in the elegant formal dining room adorned with chandeliers, plush seating and dark wooden tables.

A cocktail from Twenty Seven Steps.

Twenty Seven Steps

Christchurch Central City, Christchurch

Another New Regent Street gem, 27 Steps boasts a downstairs bar perfect for pre-or post-dinner cocktails, a great way to create a dining experience that is a little out of the ordinary. Upstairs you’ll find one of the cosiest restaurants in town, offering local fresh cuisine and an impressive list of New Zealand wines.

View of table, artwork and wine on a shelf at Gatherings.

Gatherings

5/2 Papanui Road, Merivale, Christchurch

If you haven’t treated yourself to an evening at this petite restaurant, you are seriously missing out. The creative menu at Gatherings changes with the Canterbury seasons. It is constructed with responsibly sourced seafood and local, organic vegetables. A great way to get the full Gatherings experience is by choosing the ‘Let Us Feed You’ option - the chef’s selection of smaller portions from the evening’s menu. The good people at Gatherings are experts in all things wine and the restaurant boasts a cellar with over 100 bottles from which to choose that perfect pairing.

Dessert from The Birdwood.

The Birdwood

76 Malcolm Avenue, Beckenham, Christchurch

Do dinner the Italian way and indulge in long-form dining with a group of your favourite people at The Birdwood. Begin the journey with antipasti and a nice glass (or bottle) of wine. Move on to a pasta or risotto dish from the primi menu, follow with some protein with a secundi and finish well with a dessert, such as the crowd-favourite: Tiramisu.

A chef making ice cream at Inati.

Inati

48 Hereford Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch

The Inati experience is like no other. Guests are seated along the chef’s table and invited to witness the theatre of the kitchen. Inati aims to deliver dishes that challenge the palate and open the mind to the magic that can be created with Canterbury produce. The Inati lounge invites guests to indulge in a pre-drink before sitting down for the full meal.

Woman eating a starter at Otahuna Lodge.

Otahuna Lodge

224 Rhodes Road, Tai Tapu

If there ever was an elevated dining experience to be had, dining at Otahuna is it. Begin the evening with a glass of bubbly, canapés and a wander through the magnificent grounds of the historical Otahuna estate. On return indoors, settle down at one of the private dining rooms (complete with a roaring open fire) for an intimate evening of intricate flavours from the chef’s degustation menu created mostly with offerings from the estate’s own garden and paired with local wine.

Features