Photography: Nancy Zhou
Opening just in time to make the most of the warmer weather, Universo Brasserie & Bar’s killer location at the Christchurch Art Gallery sees Stealth Hospitality magnate Tony Astle bringing Euro-chic styling, next-level dining and out-of-this-world cocktails into the CBD.
Projecting a chill café vibe by day and morphing into a swanky bar and dining scene by night, Universo offers the best of both worlds, with towering windows and a sun-drenched courtyard that offers al fresco dining into the evening and intimate dining indoors, while live music on Friday and Sunday afternoons are sure to make it a sizzling summer hotspot.
Resplendent with designer lighting suspended from its soaring ceiling, mirrored walls above booth seating, a bar pimped out with a honeycombed metal front and lush tropical plants throughout, the bright, open space’s (FYI there’s some seriouslycool function space here for that next soiree!) menu is a slick, European-styled affair with the unmistakable, signature Stealth flair. Gastronomic goodies the likes of plump squid ink bread rolls filled with turbot and rouille are plated alongside fresh oysters (served two ways – with shallot and cab sav vinegar, or with crisp potato, lemon puree and tartare sauce), and goat cheese churros with truffle honey(!) are perfect for el fresco snacking or as a warm-up before hitting the main event.
Larger plates tempt with beef cheek cooked in crayfish stock, bone marrow and pappardelle, along with the seafood bounty that is ocean fresh market fish, prawns, squid, mussels and pearl barley in a sumptuous shellfish velouté. Desserts to die for include the apple tartine for two (trust us, you’ll have trouble sharing this one!), featuring an epic salted caramel with vanilla ice-cream, while platter hounds are well catered for with the cold cut and cheese selection or the carnivore’s delight that is the Universo beast board, where pâté on toast joins lamb ribs, grilled steaks, wagyu patties, Yorkshire pudding with lamb, hand-cut chips and a selection of housemade pickles, coleslaw and bread rolls to round out the ultimate feast.
Given the pedigree, there’s no surprise that the wine (local, domestic and international) and cocktail lists up the ante on the city scene, with custom-built martinis and other classics alongside tricked-up new faves and quite possibly the city’s finest espresso martini in the form of their heavenly Caffe Nero, which shines things off with a vanilla stout reduction.
Good news too for ladies, who can lunch with the affordable extravagance of the Veuve Clicquot Ladies’ Lunch every Friday, at which you’ll get a glass of France’s finest along with two courses!