The Nook: Thai Me Up
We arrive at The Nook for lunch to further signs that life is returning the city’s CBD; New Regent Street is quietly busy, with people taking advantage of the spring weather to enjoy an al fresco coffee and window shopping along the brightly-coloured Spanish Mission style cafés and boutiques.
Deciding Christchurch spring is not quite consistently warm enough for us yet to sit outside, we take the offer of an indoor table and are ushered up the stairs into the snug little dining space that seems to illustrate how the Thai café/restaurant got its name. It’s cosy but not cramped; the space is used effectively and efficiently and the historic New Regent Street building offers plenty of charm and views to the street scene below.
Looking over the new lunch menu, our gang opts for fresh spring rolls (deep fried is also an option). The wait for these is a bit longer as they are made to order, but it’s worth it when they arrive; the fresh, chewy rice paper casings are translucent enough to clearly reveal the riot of colourful, crisp raw veges and tender chicken within. Served with a tasty dipping sauce and crumbled onion chips that only add more crunch, they’re great starters that neatly pique the appetite for the main course to come.
For this, most of our table find it impossible to go past the Chicken Cashew; stir-fried crispy chicken with vegetables, The Nook’s own home-made sweet chilli sauce and a heaping helping of everyone’s favourite nut, served with a steaming mound of rice. Some branch out though; the drunken noodles arrive slathered in a delicious tangy sauce and shot through with crisp stir-fried veges and tasty chunks of chicken; the beef panang curry is rich, creamy and feistily flavoursome; and a steaming, beautifully presented bowl of BBQ pork noodle soup gets some envious looks, with a generous fan of mouth-watering pork strips and perfectly soft-boiled egg perched invitingly atop the packed bowl.
Conversation comes to a bit of a halt as we get stuck in; it’s all washed down perfectly by the spicy cinnamon notes of a refreshing Thai iced tea or a mighty iced chocolate, served up in chunky handled jars. The food is fantastic, and when we take the pleasant central city spot and reasonable prices into account as well, The Nook shows its efficiency once again by sliding quietly onto our mental list of top lunch spots. We make a note to come back on an evening occasion some time – perhaps ahead of the next show at the nearby Theatre Royal – to try the extended dinner menu amidst the cosy, historic ambience as well.