Brunch at its absolute best

The place to go for brunch in Christchurch, where the menu is refreshingly original, challenging perceptions on every front.

Words and photography Carolyn Enting

For many of us, Sunday is a day of rest. Bookended by busy Saturday and frantic Monday, Sunday signals the end of the week and a chance to catch our breath before getting back on the treadmill. It’s the ideal day for brunch – and luckily for Cantabrians, there’s a place in Sydenham that specialises in brunch.

Hello Sunday has its origins in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. Local therapists Yasmeen Clark and Jonathan Spark were looking for new premises to house their Pascha wellness centre when they stumbled across two heritage buildings side by side in Sydenham.

Around the same time, local hospitality aficionados Chris Penny and Sam Stewart were mulling over the idea of introducing a brunch restaurant to the Christchurch café scene. Spark offered them the use of one of the heritage buildings and Hello Sunday was born.

What was a post office in the 1870s and a Sunday school in the 1920s is now a fully renovated café-cum-restaurant with full table service. The ceramic tiles that line the counter date back to the early 19th century and were sourced from demolition yards. Wooden church pews that line one wall were rescued from head chef Stewart’s father’s church, which was badly damaged in the earthquakes.

Co-owner and café manager Chris Penny has a simple answer when asked what makes Hello Sunday stand out from the crowd.

“It’s simply the food,” he explains. “We’ve always considered ourselves to be a brunch restaurant as opposed to a café. We’ve brought chefs with restaurant backgrounds into a position where they have the freedom to transform what people perceive as brunch.”

That’s not to say that you can’t get an eggs benny – that’s a menu staple, along with world-famous-in-Christchurch cinnamon brioche. But the Japanese crêpe (featuring kewpie mayo), chipotle scrambled eggs and pretzel rolls start to push the boundaries of what we traditionally consider to be brunch food.

The menu changes several times a year, and Penny conservatively estimates that they would have created more than 100 different dishes since opening in early 2014.

Supporting local business has been a priority for Hello Sunday since its inception. The salmon on the eggs benedict comes from the Akaroa Harbour, the bacon is free-range from a butchery in Edgeware and the coffee is from Christchurch roastery Switch Espresso.

It’s fair to say that the locals have embraced the concept of a brunch restaurant, with the line often reaching out the door in the weekends. Hello Sunday also scooped up Best Café, People’s Choice and the Supreme Establishment awards at the 2016 Christchurch Hospitality Awards.

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