As part of our mission to support our local community, the Neighbourhood Trust is running a blog series on businesses we believe are pretty awesome, and positively contribute to our special area of Christchurch.
Our first business spotlight is on restaurant Chillingworth Road, a popular location for Neighbourhood Trust staff to have lunch or a coffee.
Tucked in the Cranford Street (Northwood end) network of shops and eateries, Chillingworth Road is a memorable bistro and fine dining establishment, with an entire wall of glinting awards to prove its iconic status.
The restaurant was formed eight years ago, just after the earthquakes, and has a loyal clientele base from Christchurch, and visitors from around New Zealand.
“In hospitality you’ve got three major things that people want – atmosphere, food, and service,” says General Manager, Mark Harris. “A lot of places out there maybe hit one of those, if they’re lucky two, and then exceptionally three, and that’s where we’ve always prided ourselves – on having all three, year in and year out.”
What to expect
Chillingworth Road is the sort of place anyone can go to and have a really enjoyable experience with exciting high-quality food, exceptional service, and a delightful atmosphere. They cater to what the customer is in need of at the time.
Coffee & lunch
“During the day it’s more casual sort of food,” says Mark. “We’re in the process of setting up a more bistro-ey lunch menu, and maybe extending our hours over the weekend, which we hadn’t done previously, so that focusses on the days of people whisking by just wanting their coffees, grabbing something to take to work, or for a lot of the people around us, dropping in for lunch, meetings etc.”
They have cabinet food, gourmet sandwiches, salads and other yummy lunch and afternoon tea morsels.
In the evenings they run their bistro out the front, providing casual, ala carte meals. “It’s all about flavour and sauces and keeping it fresh,” says Mark.
What Chillingworth are best known for is their exceptional degustation menus.
“We are leading in our field because the menus are about innovation and changing the dishes all of the time,” says Mark. “It takes people out of their shell too. It happens almost every second night, for example people saying ‘I don’t like salmon, but I just licked that salmon dish off the plate because it was incredible’. And that’s why they keep coming back – because we don’t do anything too crazy, and people spending good money want good value for money, and that’s what they get on both sides.”
Fresh is Best
The Chillingworth Road chefs make everything in house.
“All of the cakes and slices are all baked in house,” says Mark. “It means the quality of it is controlled. Everything’s made on a daily basis, there’s very little that’s held over for days on end.”
“We have a really special relationship with all our suppliers, because our ethos is ‘fresh is best’,” says Mark. “We want to keep people happy with the best and freshest ingredients, and locally sourced too. And that goes hand in hand with our wine list too. We have quite a large wine list, and wines from around Australia, and overseas, but predominately is all New Zealand and local wines. We’ve got some of the best produce in the world.”
Getting through the lockdown
Like all hospitality businesses, Chillingworth Road was impacted by the lockdown and not being able to open for over one month. However, Mark commends the Chillingworth Road (previous) owners, Darren Wright and Leanne Wright, for being exceptionally kind and supportive towards their staff during that time.
Post-lockdown they have been delighted with the backing of their clientele and encouraged to see so many people out and about enjoying local hospitality and catching up with loved ones.
“The feedback and support from people has just been amazing,” says Mark. “We knew with Covid, for the next couple of years there won’t be much travel, so we thought brace ourselves and get ourselves ready, get a couple of good deals for people to welcome them back. But when we opened we were completely flat out. It’s been really good.”
How to support Chillingworth Road
Do you have a birthday or special anniversary coming up? Book a table at Chillingworth Road and they will ensure you enjoy a spectacular meal! Or if you’re in the area, stop by for a coffee and muffin.