Ode to Long Lunches

People having a long lunch at Tussock Hill Vineyard, Christchurch.

Is there anything more satisfying than a lingering long lunch?

Words by: Kelly Tapper

Images by: Neat Places and Supplied

The psyche behind “slow” isn’t always easy in practise. However, if there’s one activity that can get you in the mood for switching off and reconnecting with friends and whānau, it is a long lunch. So block out the afternoon, get a message out to mates, book a table (at one of these spots below) and appreciate the simple pleasure of lunch with good people. It’s like poetry in motion, an ode to slow dining, and surely one of the oldest pastimes in the book.  Here are our top picks; 

Ada

The Convent Hotel, 454 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn

Ada at Grey Lynn’s Convent Hotel is nailing the long lunch brief with a dedicated afternoon. On any given Sunday, you and your friends can partake in Ada’s long lunch; a five-course shared banquet. You’ll be welcomed with a glass of Prosecco and then a feast of different dishes. Reservations are for 2 hours, which is generous these days, but if you really want to elongate your stay we recommend booking a later time. With the hotel right there, you’ve the added bonus of being able to tack on an overnighter, if you really want to go with the flow.

Interior view of dining room at Ada, Auckland.

Poderi Crisci

205 Awaawaroa Road, Awaawaroa Bay, Waiheke Island

A visit to Poderi Crisci on Waiheke Island - famed for its Italian Long Lunch - is worth the effort. An Italian lunch (il pranzo) is considered the most important meal of the day, and on Sunday at Poderi Crisci, it is treated much the same. Classic Italian dishes will be presented to you as the afternoon slips by, with the eating casually interspersed with wine from the vineyard (and a visit to the cellar if you’re lucky). Be prepared to spend the whole afternoon immersed in the spirit of Italy, and as they say themselves, “there is always plenty more thyme in the garden, and there is always another ferry”.

Loretta

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181 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Loretta is a noteworthy destination for those seeking a long lunch in Wellington. It exudes understated sophistication and has become a mainstay on the capital’s brunch scene. The menu is just that, a brunch menu, but you’ll find an assortment of delectable lunch options as well as a selection of pizzas from their woodfire oven. The ample drinks list spans everything from smoothies to sodas to syrah, leaving everyone catered for. All you have to do is relax amongst friends and appreciate the effortlessly stylish space and service.

Black Estate

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614 Omihi Road, Waipara, Christchurch & Canterbury

Black Estate and long lunches are like old friends. The two are inseparable. With Black Estate’s picturesque setting in Waipara and phenomenal wine production, a lunch here will be one to reminisce on. The menu heroes locally sourced and organic produce, with an emphasis on creating remarkable seasonal dishes. There is no rush or hurry, just an invitation to embrace the moment, you can’t argue with that.

Dux Dine

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28 Riccarton Road, Riccarton, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

There’s no denying the appeal of Dux Dine for lunch, especially a long one. There is ample space for everyone to join, and whether you choose to dine inside or out, Dux Dine does a sterling job of making you feel welcome. Dux Dine specialises in seafood and vegetarian cuisine with an array of salads, burgers and pizzas up for grabs come lunchtime. We have a soft spot for their Sunday sessions that instantly warrant a longer stay.With live music and a dedicated garden bar, it’s an ideal place to linger.

Tussock Hill Vineyard

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210 Huntsbury Avenue, Cashmere, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

The long and winding road up to Tussock Hill Vineyard & Cellar Door is as inconspicuous as it is rewarding. Once you reach the picturesque vineyard you'll soon understand why. Tussock Hill Vineyard is only open for lunch, and in turn, champions this mealtime as king. On a clear day, you will luncheon with unadulterated views of the Southern Alps whilst being presented organic seasonal dishes produced by award-wining head chef Jackson Mehlhopt. 

Del Mar

16 Waterfront Road, South Hill, Ōamaru

Ōamaru’s waterfront eatery Del Mar, begs closer inspection for lunch. The sister restaurant to the much-loved Cucina, Del Mar is as elegant as it is laid back, with glimmering water views, pots of greenery and an all-round beautiful interior. A top-notch menu weaves across mouth-watering mains and pizzas ending with desserts showcasing in-house made gelatos. Kids do not play second fiddle, and there’s a jam-packed offering for the little people too.

Interior view with lots of green plants at Del Mar, Ōamaru,

The Boat Shed

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350 Wakefield Quay, Stepneyville, Nelson, Nelson Tasman

A timeless classic, The Boat Shed is a place everyone should experience when in Nelson. From the exposed wooden rafters to the wistful harbour views, there is little to fault. Book yourself a table in the Searoom or cosy Loft, and unwind in the company of your glorious comrades. The menu delivers the freshest locally caught seafood, supporting local fishermen and growers, and you’ll find an ever-changing variety such as locally spearfished butterfish or Mills Bay mussels. The Boat Shed does the simple things very well, so much so, you won’t want to leave.

No.7 Balmac

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7 Balmacewen Road, Maori Hill, Dunedin

For those with a penchant for casual bistro dining, No.7 Balmac will be the perfect place for your lunch reservation. With an emphasis on wood-fire cooking, you can indulge in their all-day menu that spans across brunch into more filling lunch dishes like tandoori spiced wood-chicken with puy lentils, sprouts, coriander, mint and preserved lime yoghurt. If you really want to push the boat out, you can book their exclusive private dining room which can comfortably accommodate 35 people for lunch. 

The Oxford

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152 Stafford Street, Timaru, South Canterbury

Timaru’s all-rounder The Oxford, is a stand-out eatery in the port city. Ask anyone around the traps and they’ll point you in their direction for a memorable meal. Located in an historic listed art-deco building, the place exudes a European brasserie feel that also extends to their menu. The food is the kind that makes you want to wipe the plate with a chunk of crusty bread to savour every drop, and a dedicated dining room is perfect for longer stays.

Mr. Pickles

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298 Victoria Street, Hamilton Central, Hamilton

Open from midday, Mr Pickles is tucked away at the end of the achingly stylish, Riverbank Lane, and delivers the goods when it comes to lunch. Instead of narrowing it down to one cuisine, Mr. Pickles is a revolving door of dishes from across the globe and focussed on shared dining. Their Chef’s Menu would be our pick for a long lunch with the promise of plenty of the good stuff to go around (with the added option of dessert). The feel-good vibe, curated drinks list and delicious eats will have your crew utterly impressed.

arc

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74 Ardmore Street, Wanaka, Wānaka

This isn't Arc owners’ first rodeo, as they are the team behind Wānaka’s much-loved Kika. James Stapley and Sam Cooper had a clear vision when they designed Arc; a place for people to come together and celebrate seasonal produce with a fine dining twist. And they have succeeded, happily attracting diners wanting to sample their delicious brunch and tapas. Although only open til 2.30pm, you can certainly make the most of their lunchtime offering with an early booking, and then surround yourself in the native flora and fauna in their secret courtyard.

Neat Auckland Places

Odettes

A seating area.
Place Auckland
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Odettes has delivered another level of sophistication to the Auckland dining scene.

Homestead Café

A flatlay of food.
Place Auckland
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From the people who brought you Ceremony Café comes Homestead, a gallery-come-café servicing the ‘burbs with great coffee and food.

Freida Margolis

Alcohol in a shelf inside.
Place Auckland
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A fine establishment full of colour and character with a penchant for the drink.

Tür Studio

The entrance to the store.
Place Auckland

A creative space continually merging and progressing to match the ever growing importance of art in Auckland’s culture.