The Roots of good food is in Lyttelton

Stuff.co.nz article by Liz Carlson

I know this is a bold statement, but I think I've found my new favourite restaurant in New Zealand. Wait, wait, hear me out. The award-winning Roots Restaurant is tucked away on the main street in Lyttelton, the quaint port town outside of Christchurch. Simple, light, and unobtrusive, it doesn't stand out or beg for attention. Almost as soon as you walk inside you are transported to a place where you know you're about to have an exquisite dining experience.

And that's what Roots does best, it puts the experience back into eating. That is a movement I can get behind! With a focus on sustainable fresh, locally sourced, and even locally foraged ingredients, all of my boxes were ticked for a potentially favourite meal, and I was ready to be wowed.

Launched only a few years ago by Giulio and Christy Sturla, right after the city was starting to rebuild from the earthquakes, Roots' roots seemed ambitious to say the least. Canterbury is home to some of my favourite places in New Zealand, including some truly-loved wineries and restaurants so I knew I was in for a bit of a treat, especially because I didn't have much say in the matter.

That being said, I am not going to lie, when I heard that there was no set menu (or any menu for that matter), I was skeptical. While I have never been a picky eater, and I often love anything that's put in front of me, I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to dining decisions. Removing choice from a dining experience seems uncomfortable, but I was willing to give it a chance. After all, I trust that these guys know more about food than I do, and there is something rather liberating about your only decision being how hungry you are - five, eight or 12 courses.

With the idea of changing how we think about food, especially about preconceptions about food, you start to get a metaphorical taste for how Roots is run - at the risk of sounding cliched, it's more than just a regular old dinner out; it's a experience. Think you don't like mushrooms? Well, you haven't had some of the best mushrooms in New Zealand. So sit back, open your mind, and enjoy.

With such fine dining available, Roots has the potential to fall into one of those pretentious dining experiences that go hand in hand with long degustation menus, but somehow it doesn't. Inside it feels intimate and quaint, with a simple cozy atmosphere that makes you want to kick up your feet and stay a while, which is what ends up happening. In fact, by the end of the night you feel like part of the family. With each course one of the team will come out and explain each dish to you, get to know and share the story of the food you are about to enjoy.

In many ways Roots has come to stand for so many things I love about travel, and enjoy a place through it's food. As the night progresses, it's almost as if you are going on a journey through food. Chatting with Guilio, his passion for sharing a good meal with good people shines through.

You start to realise that Roots is, in fact, more than a restaurant, it's almost a symbol of the community spirit that is helping Christchurch start fresh. It's also the perfect example of the love and respect for fine dining in New Zealand, and truly enjoying a culinary experience. It's a place that reminds you that Lyttleton is still going strong and it's worth visiting, if only for the best meal of your life, and to remind you of the amazing variety of ingredients and flavours that can be found right at home, if you only know where to look.

Read the original article here.


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