Review: Dux Dine
Riccarton Road is having the equivalent of open heart surgery. Carving up the sternum of one of the city’s busiest roads is a raucous, intrusive and frustrating affair, but mere metres away, settled in the lush surrounds of Dux Dine’s leafy, courtyard garden oasis (following super easy on-site parking), we’re totally oblivious to the ruckus. The serenity is so complete that the only thing we can hear on a humming, sun-drenched Wednesday afternoon is the murmur of excited lunchtime diners and the gentle buzz of the occasional passing bee as they bounce between the garden’s dazzling floral explosions.
Had it been the weekend, we’d be settling in for a session basking in the sun with pitchers of the tastes-so-good charms of perennial jacked-up ginger beer fave Ginger Tom, but given we’ll be heading back to the office, we’re sipping a crisp, suitably sublime Waipara Hills Sauvignon Blanc and a bright, candy-floss hued Rua Pinot Rosé instead – its watermelon notes are perfect on days like these. Tucked behind the iconic baby blue and white character villa overlooking the herb garden, we note Christchurch’s maturing palate with interest, with the vegetarian/seafood hybrid outfit’s near 50/50 split between male and female diners.
Having perused and been talked through the menus by Dux legend Thomas Gareth, we find the regular lunch menu filled with classic Dux Dine favourites – let’s be honest, it would near throw the planet out of alignment for the city’s foodie set if there were too many changes – as well as the Menu Additions, which are a weekly showcase of Canterbury’s freshest and finest, giving regulars the opportunity to indulge in a deviation from their longstanding faves.
We’ve decided to mix things up with the entrées, tapping the tried and true Fried Calamari (all crispy golden exterior coating firm yet tender flesh, and simply magic with a squeeze of lemon and dipped in taste-bud-tingling chilli and ginger sauce) and weekly ring-in the Moroccan Grilled Asparagus. Its ras el hanout spice is the perfect accompaniment to the natural astringency of the new season spears and the nutty crunch of toasted almonds and shaved parmesan piled atop toasted ciabatta.
As creatures of habit it’s simply too hard for us to go past the Fish of the Day, so we don’t. Our forks break through the signature golden crusted lime and coriander shell with a satisfying crunch; beneath, the delicate, perfectly-cooked terakihi effortlessly flakes, and the delicate fish combined with the savoury, herby chew of the crust proves yet again why it’s one of (if not the) restaurant’s most popular dishes. The fact that it sings in harmony between sips of the fresh fruity notes of the sassy Sav make this pairing a total winner. On the other side of the table the equally winning doubled stack of Pea & Halloumi Fritters sees the union of salty cheese with the slightly sweet pea richness of the gluten-free fritters, all tricked up with the sharpness of a gazpacho sauce balanced by three artistic swirls of tangy crème fraiche.
While it’s a struggle to extricate ourselves from our sunny setting, we take comfort in the summer inevitably full of long Sunday afternoons at Dux Dine ahead.
28 Riccarton Road
03 348 1436