Winnebagoes – Madras St

Six of us headed out last night to the  Winnebagoes in Madras Street.

Winnies came in under our earthquake rules – you can go to a venue again if it has reopened.  Winnies has had a branch open in Ferrymead through the earthquakes, but the city Winnies has only been around for about 6 months or so, and for a time was just a bar.  I feel a bit sorry for the Winniebagoes owners – they had a number of venues that were ruined – firstly their Gloucester St venue was closed after the September 2010 quake and then the ‘new’ venue in Colombo St was destroyed in February 2011 earthquakes.  No wonder they took their time coming back to the city.

So how was it?  Mixed.

Firstly the bad stuff.  The noise.  Not somewhere you can go for a dinner and enjoy conversation.  We were in a booth but even still, after the end of our dinner I had a sore throat from talking over the noise.  Secondly the service was  average.  A waiter who continually said “just give me a buzz if you need anything” … we were all going “buzzzzz” as a joke as he walked away.  I know it was just a phrase, but a pretty annoying one.  He didn’t know whether the wine I wanted was sweet or dry.  He also didn’t know the dessert pizza of the day “I know it was white chocolate & baileys a couple of days ago”… well, that’s useful.  We don’t care about the dessert a couple of days ago – what was the dessert today?  Basic things.   It wasn’t all bad though.  He was reasonably patient with us as we ordered (we have a tendency to change our minds mid-order).   The trouble I think is looking at the staff, they all looked pretty young, and they just were not trained up well enough.  Christchurch is a tough market these days.  Dining out is one of the few things we can do in the city and as the centre city has been the last to get going again, suburban dining will win out if the city doesn’t meet the mark.

As for the food?  Overall good.  One of our orders (lamb salad) was a disappointment and it was swapped out with another salad (chicken noodle).  Unfortunately this information didn’t make it to the counter as when we paid up both dishes were still on the list, but they dutifully deleted it from the bill when we advised them of what happened.

However the pizzas we ordered were all eaten (and doggy-bags provided for remaining pieces).  Winnies do know how to make a good pizza – and there is plenty of choice.  I shared a Morrocan Lamb pizza and it was very tasty.  Dessert of the day was greeted with a thumbs up from the diner who ordered it, and the four of us who ordered the $7 sundaes (a mix of caramel and chocolate toppings being chosen) certainly licked the bowls clean.

As always, we had a good night out because it’s great company and on the whole good food… but it’s not exactly a great atmosphere for a meal out for a small group.  The noise was a real downer and the staff need to up their game in the knowledge and service stakes.  I’d give it a 7/10 rating.

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