As I have mentioned in my pages and previous posts, this place has been one of my (our) favourite places to eat lunch since being down here in Canterbury…mind you, we haven’t been to a lot of places, but no real need when you find one that you can trust. I have been here many times before in previous years, mostly for breakky on the way in or our of Christchurch on work, bikes, or holidays, and inroduced Katie to it on the way to Cheviot one day. It is a first choice if we want to head out on a fine day.
Today was a stunning day in Christchurch yet the mood in our house was decidedly grey, and when Katie’s parents offered to take the kids to a community picnic, Katie asked me what should we do now that we were shot of them for a few hours. Well you can imagine what I was thinking, however it seemed we were on different pages and she suggested we go to Pukeko Junction…high fives all round and off we went.
Pukeko Junction is situated on the SH1 about half an hour’s drive north of Christchurch in Leithfield. It has always proved popular due to it being right on the roadside in the middle of nowhere in the same vein as Amercian truck stops you see in the movies. But I am guessing that most of its clients are in fact those who return from around the region, and locals as the food is always of a high standard.
Well, with a seemingly unbiased approach, I wanted to review it in my own way as I had done to others.
Me: Smoked Chicken with bacon, mushrooms and cheese on creamy fettucine. 2 x Bundy Ginger Beer, and a Rhubarb cake with toffee topping and cream
Katie; Pork Spare Ribs with sweet chilli sauce, a salad, 1 x Bundy, and a Lemon Yoghurt cake with cream – Katie actually wanted the pizza, however this was not available.
To a lot of people, waiting on a meal seems to be an annoying part to their experience and I have seen some patrons over the years be completely abusinve, mostly without justification. It just so happens that sometimes you have to wait for things and in the case of Pukeko Junction, waitingt is well worth it as it is obvious the staff take pride in what thye present to you, and good things take time.
I don’t know how long we waited, it might have been 20 or 30mins, but it doesn’t normally bother us, more so today as we needed the time to chill out, read a paper (although it just reminded us why we were getting out of Dodge) and we could hear some tales of woe and experience from other patrons who obviously were in the same situation as us…
|You pretty much view everything on offer, except specials
and pasta/soup of the day…mmmmmm.
Our meals came to us and OMG! I have listed a previous pasta dish at Pukeko as one of my favourite ever, and while this one didn’t come lcose to it, it was fanatstically tasty, creamy, and cheesy. Nice and hot, and a great mix of meats and pasta. Katie knew immediately she had chosen the wrong dish (despite ribs being an all-time fave) and I promised her I would eat half of mine and she could finish it off – if I got some of her ribs!
In changing over (which was bloody hard to do!) I started on the ribs. The best ribs I think I have ever had were in Lone Star Rotorua, which were bigger than Texas and doused in BBQ sauce. Now in seeing these were servied with sweet chilli didn’t seem right, but hey, they know what they’re doing as it was a great compliment, something I probably never would have conisdered. The ribs themselves were very good, not great, but worth the money. The odd one was quite dry, maybe overcooked, but all in all, if you are prepared to strip them to bare bone and have no qualms about sucking your own fingers in public, then they can’t be all bad right?
We had decided we were going to have a dessert, something I don’t often do (I am an ince-cream kind of guy after dinner sometimes, but that normally is about it) but I was intrigued by the rhubarb cake and Katie (who loves all things sweet) had her eyes on it too, but seeing as I was getting it she chose anohter to get two for one. As with lunch, we swapped midway. I have to say, I am not a big fan of sweets after meals, but of the two the rhubarb was moist but not particulalry strong tasting, or if it was, the toffee topping below it away. Very nice, but in smaller servings for me. The same with the lemon yoghurt cake – nice and moist, and I love the tanginess of the topping, but it becomes too much for me as a large slice. Nothing against the cakes, and I am certain most will love the generously large slices they will get.
|For the benefit of overseas viewers – this is
a Pukeko – an annoying bird to farmers and cars
The total meal cost $63 dollars which I think is pretty smart for what we had – no serving left us feeling short-changed, none being more than $15. This can seem pricey for cafe style food (who in their right mind would pay $14 for a gourmet sausage rool? I have previously and glad I did – they are the size of a small ox, and damn near as tasty). The staff are nice and cheerful, and were appreciative of me bringing plates back in (they seemed real busy so I like to help out), and they are easy to talk to if you get a chance (as again, they are so busy). Teh place itself is nice and cosy, and on a warm day I highly recommend outside and is quite well sheltered from the nor’wester and colder easterlies). Inside is quite noisy, the proximity of the kitchen and serving staff, plus people chatting and making orders. They have a covered outer area which is very pleasant in sunshine, but can be cold on rainey days. The toilets are fascinating – I think they used to be your tradtional public toilets done up in a cosy feel with nice fittings, however it still feels and smells like a public unrinal…I have a distinct distaste for public toilets and avoid them where I can. Off the cafe is a shop selling local art and momentos – painting and photo canvases, iron works, wine, food and just about everything else – a stunning large photo of a naked woman in shadow was considered as a purchase, but a bit pricey.
Setting: 4 out of 5
Staff: 4 out of 5
Food: 5 out of 5
Value: 5 out of 5
Overall Score: 4.5 out of 5
SH 1, Leithfield