the alfmeister

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A Meal Out…The Nor’Wester Cafe


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Yesterday we decided we just needed to get out of town for a bit more for the kids and the dogs who had been somewhat neglected over the last few days. We headed north of Christchurch to Amberley, where we intended to do some grocery shopping as well, and as we had heard rave reviews of The Nor’Wester, we decided to pop in for lunch.
 The place is a very nice setup, almost lost from the road as an eatery with a beautiful outdoor eating area and a nice comfortable rustic interior.The staff were very nice and helpful which is always appreciated when you have children and toddlers.
The menus are quite extensive, and the pricing indication, for so far out of town, hinted that the food was of quality. We had seen a couple of meals come out for other diners, and I had based my decision on seeing these;
For me – Beef Burger and fries, and a Monteiths Pilsner (x2) on tap
Katie – same as above with a Terrace Edge 09 Pinot Gris (the only wine available by the glass)
Deanna – Waffles and a pineapple juice
Renee – egg on toast with a sausage and a pineapple juice – note, we actually asked for cranberry juices, a fact the girl picked up and offered refund for
It was quite busy in the cafe but we didn’t have to wait too long for the food, and I have to admit, at least three of the meals were impressive looking. Deanna’s was the exception – the waffles were small, and the bacon, if you could call it that, was barely a mouthful for her, and cooked to a crisp. It actually looked like a dog treat!
Renee’s egg was nice but as a meal for a toddler sitting in a high chair, the plate was too big to fit on the tray and was permanently askew through the meal.
Our burgers were impressive looking, a massive burger bun with a meat pattie the likes I have never seen since the days of Jimmy Rockets in Customs St, Auckland. The fires, served in a smallish bowl to the side of the plate were good sized steak fries, and after eating one, it set a high standard for the rest of the meal. The plate was a long oblong type, completely wrong for the meal, as you couldn’t spin the plate to cut at angles, and your arm was forever dipping into your food.
I decided, as the burger looked up to it, to eat it the old fashioned way by hand, but unfortunately this is where the meal started it’s slide. For some reason best known only to the cook, the plate had been coated in a mayo which was all over the bun base, so by hand was out of the question. Cutting with the butter knives we had, only made it worse. The burger was a disappointment – the pattie was devoid of taste, no hint of herbs, seasoning, or the sensation you get from a hint of fat in the meat. And if it did in fact have these tastes, it was completely overrun by the copious amounts of tomato relish that was plastered over the burger. Nice as it was, it should be a side show, not the main feature.
Despite all of this, we did eat all our meals, and paid the princely sum of $90ish for the privilege, making each meal about $25 each, too high in my mind for lunch and kids. I have no issue paying good money, but for good food and this didn’t stack up in my mind.
We had turned down the chance to eat at one of our favourites, Pukeko Junction on the way for something different, and while the ambiance and place and staff were fantastic, it was very much a loss opportunity. However, in being fair, it is the only time I have been there and may have gotten a bad day (not that it should matter in this industry) and figuring the recent events. I would normally consider going to a place again based on it’s recommendations, but I would be hard pressed to bearing in mind the number of other fine establishments in North Canterbury and CHCH.
Setting: 4 out of 5
Staff: 4 out of 5
Food: 2 out of 5
Value: 2 out of 5
Overall Score: 3 out of 5

Nor’Wester Cafe
95 Main North Road
Amberley +643 314 9411

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