Last night the seven of us ventured slightly out of town to Lincoln. It’s not somewhere I go very often, although have often thought I should head out to their market one Saturday.
The Laboratory has been open for a while now, and has been somewhere I’ve been aiming to go, so I was thrilled when someone picked it as their venue.
The Lab (I’ll call it that to save time typing), has been built from scratch post-earthquake, but made to look like a long established building. The people behind it were part-owners of the Twisted Hop in Poplar Lane and that history and link is very clear to see. The building has been built using all sorts of recycled materials. The horse-shoe bar from the Old Hororata Hotel, the staircase from Rangi Ruru Boarding School, floor boards from Lane Walker Rudkin. Doors from (they think) the Bead Shop in Manchester Street. The Lab has a bit of a science theme going on too; from the cute periodic-table influenced coasters, the beakers for water, and the tiny beakers for the beer tasting tray. From the table lamps, to the toilet roll holders, there is detail everywhere. On the beer list are Twisted Hop beers and there is a brewery on site. They also offer a Wednesday Night Film Club. So, what about the food?
Fabulous! The menu isn’t large, there’s a few snacky items, your usual suspects of fried food (the hand cut chips and very garlicky aioli were spot on!) some small plates and then a pizza menu. One person ordered the Beetroot Pear & Mahoe Blue Salad with Walnut Pesto, we had a few cones (measuring cones) full of chunky chips and then pizza. Three specials (prawn), one salmon, one double pepperoni and I ordered the Pollonini which had Chicken Chorizo, Spinach, Red Onion and Salsa Verde. The pizzas were all served on wooden boards and had thin crispy bases. I can’t decide whether thin bases are a good thing or not – it feels healthier, but you can fit more pizza in! After being at Bamboozle last month where there is so much food on the menu it “bamboozles” you (in a good way, though, fab place), it’s a nice change to have a succinct menu to chose from.
We had a lovely, leisurely dinner and it was nice to be in a big, busy venue and still be able to hear each other talk. After a bit of a break between food and drinks we decided on desserts; with four Chocolate, Salted Caramel and Nut Sundaes ordered, and one Pear & Apple Crumble with Gingernut Ice Cream.
We’ll definitely be back. The general staff were friendly and pretty helpful, although our waiter seemed either new to hospitality or new to the business. He was efficient, and polite (it’s not often you get called “ma’am”) but he didn’t add a lot of knowledge/value when making our choices and we are a group who often ask questions or advice, hence my assumption here. Certainly didn’t take away from our night, but a bit of schooling up on the menus would help.
So all in all a great night was had. We’ll definitely be back to try out some other options on the menu (although there might be a repeat of that Sundae, it was pretty sublime). Price point was pretty good, I had a couple of wines as I wasn’t driving and that’s always going to add to your bill, but thought $62 all up for my fare (drinks, chips, pizza and dessert) was pretty good really. If you were on a budget the pizzas are definitely big enough to share – I wasn’t a complete piglet so they gave me a takeout box for my leftover pizza.
The Laboratory is worth the 20 minute drive. I love the way they’ve put the place together and brought back parts of Christchurch we thought were destroyed forever in the process. The food offerings were good and they offer cabinet food and lunch menus if you’re there earlier in the day or wanting to coincide with a visit to the market!