ADMIN NOTE: DUE TO THE CHRISTCHURCH EARTHQUAKES, THIS VENUE IS NOT CURRENTLY IN OPERATION
'What Bar', HotelSO's cafe/bar offers appetising and satisfying food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as delicious drinks late into the evening.
Our breakfast menu includes favourites such as Eggs Benedict and Home Made Bircher Muesli, as well as more innovative options such as the Breakfast Tortilla Wrap and Home Made Beans. Breakfast is served daily from 6.30am.
For lunch, we offer an eclectic menu that includes Coconut Fish and Tamarind Laksa, Vegetarian Risotto, and Warm Wood-Smoked Canterbury Lamb Rump.
Our evening tasting plates and platters are perfect for sharing amongst friends. Dishes include Pork Dumplings with Lemon Grass & Sweet Chilli Dip, Thai Spiced Crab Salad w/ Avocado & Salsa Tian, Ricotta Bruschetta as well as seafood and European platters.
Where possible we use organic and free range produce, as well as locally reared, caught and grown products.
As a perfect accompaniment we offer a diverse wine list, a fantastic range of local and international beers, and fine spirits, including New Zealand's own '42below' vodka and South Gin. Whilst you are relaxing, check-out our exciting cocktail list.
For your enjoyment, local and national DJ's play soulful and soothing tunes late into the night. Refer to our news and events section to see who is coming to play in the bar.
We are located in the ground floor of the HotelSO Building, 165 Cashel St, Christchurch. Open from 6.30am for breakfast, till late.
So I was cruising past this place, and it looked like a good place to stop in for a bite of lunch. I was impressed from the moment I stepped in, and smiled at how 'flash' and 'up-to-date' the place looked.
So I sat down, and was immediately attended to by a chipper-looking waiter, who provided me with a lunch, and drinks menu. I chose the BLT, made with home made aioli, and waited patiently for it to arrive. While it was cooking, I perused the drinks menu, and ordered a 'laid back'. This was a cocktail in a tall glass, made over ice, with passion-fruit-pulp in the bottom, and also some 42-below Passion-fruit Vodka, among other spirits. And boy, was it good!
Then my BLT came, and I was surprised. At how big it was. I mean, it was served on a big plate, and still took up most of it. The bacon and tomato were certainly not thin-slivers, cooked and cut hours ago, this stuff was fresh-off-the-grill, and the tomato was the freshest I remember tasting in a very long time.
After another 'Laid Back', and finishing my BLT, I was very surprised at how reasonable the check was when it came.
I'll be back.
This is a fantastic venue, catering to almost anything you could want to do there. It could be that there is the air of romance and discretion, or it could be the perfect place to seal-the-deal, and sign that contract and then celebrate with a bottle of bubbly!
WhatBar is located in the HotelSO building, Cashel Street, Christchurch, in the middle of everywhere and everything. With HotelSO located upstairs: Nothing is out of reach.
The great thing, (well, one of the many, but this one really caught my attention), was the music. Not only did they have a live DJ there, playing music that wasn't all the "Diff Diff" heavy dance music stuff you hear in most "clubs" - this was proper music. In most restaurants, the music is either: Just that little bit too loud, so that it's intruding on your meal, or too quiet, so you can hear what the Lovely lady sitting across the bar is doing to her nails this week. This place got it 'Just Right'. I could hear my companion across the table, neither of us needing to raise our voices to be heard, nor lower our voices to avoid being overheard.
The food. What we were really here for. Where to start? My partner and I decided to start on the 'beer-batter chips'. We were pleasantly surprised to find that we'd made the right choice. They were cooked to perfection. No over-cooked dry taste. No three-week-old grease taste. And no charcoal. These chips, were perfect. Only one fault: The amazing aioli that they came with - there wasn't enough. However, this was fixed by asking the friendliest waitress I've dealt with in a very long time, for some more.
I adjoined my dinner chips with my first cocktail of the evening, a 'mai tai', once again, made to perfection. I don't know where What Bar found it's bar staff, but every cocktail I had that evening was amazing. The prices were reasonable for what they were, and as a plus, if you're spending the evening in the hotel, you can charge it to your room, so you just pay for everything in one go at the end of your stay. While on the topic of alcohol, this is no ordinary bar. Not a beer tap to be seen, and there's none of those "regular" beers you see in most bars. There are, however, premium beers and wines, from both inside and outside New Zealand.
The lamb my partner had was heaven. And this is coming from a guy who is not that fond of Lamb. Or the blue cheese, and cauliflower puree it comes with. Alas, I must say however, it was no contest, for my tossed penne with bacon. I'm salivating just remembering it! The meals don't look that big for what you pay, but I was full after mains, and that's saying a lot.
I had to take a break, go spend some time in the Hotel Gym and Sauna, to let my dinner settle, before going back for dessert, and some more fantastic cocktails. The dessert was well worth the wait. I had problems deciding between the 'rhubarb and carrot cake', or the 'kiwifruit cheesecake'. So I had both. Both were breathtaking. Moist where they need to be, crunchy where required... But the 'kiwifruit cheesecake' was a little tart for me, so the rhubarb won.
I must admit, from the first time I saw the breakfast menu, I was biased for the 'breakfast tortilla wrap', And I was not disappointed. Scrambled eggs, Hungarian sausage, green onion, cheddar cheese, smoked paprika, tomato & corn salsa with some sour cream. Yum! The breakfast menu has something on there suited to everyone. From eggs benedict, to French toast, you would be hard pressed to find someone who isn't suited by something on this menu.
Value for money: entree $8.50, less than $60 for two mains, and desserts at $9, Definitely! The staff always had a smile on their face, be it 5:30pm when we went for dinner, 7:30pm for dessert, even when I called down for some more 'beer-batter chips' at half-past midnight to take care of the munchies, or at 6:30am, when I was a zombie, but the staff were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. The environment was welcoming, professional, and friendly.
Of the many restaurants I have been to, this is the one I would recommend to anyone, above the rest.
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