The Tannery provides Christchurch with a gentrified hub that screams cosmopolitan-cool in Woolston's industrial hub. With cute coffee shops overflowing with decadent cakes, rich aromas of coffee and surrounded by stores with the latest fashion trends, it is easy to see why the Tannery has gained momentum.
Blue Smoke, a fairly new arrival to the mix, creates an optimal setting for craft beer drinkers and lovers of good food. Located in the historic building (dating back to 1800's) Blue Smoke, named after the first New Zealand recorded song 'Blue Smoke' in 1949, is a venue that provides easy accessibility to talented local and overseas artists with live music playing most weekends and a great Kiwi mix on the much-loved American soul food. With indoor and outdoor seating, the ambience at Blue Smoke is relaxed with that comforting hustle of people enjoying themselves. The space, once pretentious when it was formally Gustav's, has transformed into a more chilled dining experience with comfortable couches strategically placed for larger parties, as well as high tables and stool seating near the bar area and around the outside. That distinct European structural look with dark oak remains, which works as a reminder of the history of the venue. There is also seating available in the alley with covers (in case the rains arrive) and multiple entry points from inside the shopping precinct, to the alley and from the car park.
I have shopped at The Tannery many a time, and have dined both at The Brewery (next door) and now Blue Smoke, and Blue Smoke wins hands down. Where the Brewery lacks in simple pleasures such as fries and aioli (tasting more like frozen chips that have been thawed and disguised with some seasoning) Blue Smoke stands out with crunchy fries, seasoned perfectly with a rich aioli that puts a smile on any garlic-lovers dial. On this particular occasion my friend and I decided to indulge in a delicious lunch. The menu, catering for both vegetarians and carnivores, provides a limited, but good mix. Incorporating crowd favourites like cheeseburgers, chilli-beef friends, hot dogs and Reuben Sandwiches, it is easy to find something that appeals to patrons. Scanning the menu the Cajun fish tacos with spicy mango sauce and lime crème fraiche stood out and won my vote, while the plant-based burger with tobacco onions, veganaise and avocado was my friends choice.
Waiting for our meals allowed us to go and order a drink from the bar. We took a seat at one of the comfy couches adorned in pillows and had a good old time people-watching those walking past outside. Our meals came out after what appeared to be a short ten minutes, which was fantastic as we were ravenous. Brought out by the refreshingly friendly staff was a bonus. My fish tacos were very flavoursome and the tortillas were hand made too (not store bought) which was a nice attention to detail of the talented chef. I was told that the plant based burger was one of the best my friend had had in ages. Safe to say that dining at Blue Smoke will be occurring again sooner rather than later. With locally sourced ingredients including free range eggs, meat and chicken this is clearly reflected in the quality of food leaving the kitchen.
Priced reasonably, starting at $10 for entrees and snacks, with the most expensive item being $28 (200g Ribeye with Dunkel jus, thyme roasted potatoes and tobacco onions) it is definitely an affordable outing. I highly recommend putting a Saturday or Sunday aside to enjoy a meal, a drink and the atmosphere that Blue Smoke has to offer.
Veggie Burger, Fish Tacos & Fries @ Blue Smoke (Photo Instagram @neelsmcgee)