It was Sunday evening and Christchurch seemed eerily quiet. I’d spent part of the day understanding some of the impact of the 2010-11 earthquakes. The city is still peppered with crumbling buildings and a huge amount of reconstruction work. Coupled with quiet streets in the city centre, the effect was quite ghostly which I suppose was fitting for Halloween weekend.

Whatever the case, I was in the mood for something fairly meaty and substantial for my dinner. A little online research revealed that Bessie might be the place I was looking for. It specialises in dry-aged steaks in what looked to be elegant surroundings. I crossed the threshold with expectations set high.

It was no surprise to find the place as quiet as the rest of the city. I was shown to a table in the mood-lit main dining space. The menu and drinks list were brought, and some of the steak specials explained.

I took a moment or two to contemplate things then settled upon an intriguing sounding starter of onion veloute with a manuka smoked egg, then followed with their 15-day aged bone-in ribeye.

The starter soon arrived. The bowl initially contained the smoked egg yolk, bacon pieces, mushrooms and truffle shavings which were then topped with an initial serving of the veloute. The waitress instructed that I should mix the dish to break the yolk, after which I should add more of the veloute which she left with me as I saw fit.

This was a touch needlessly complicated and the texture of the bacon was a touch leathery, but this was otherwise a really satisfying dish. The veloute packed excellent onion flavour and the egg added a lightly smokey richness. I enjoyed it very much.

The steak came complete with a massive knife which proved very handy in dealing with the thick cut slab of meat, which had been cooked very accurately to medium rare. It was an excellent piece of meat, well-seasoned and deeply satisfying.

I added a side of dukkah-topped sous vide carrots. These were very good, too.

So overall, Bessie served me a very good quality dinner. There was evidence of some creativity from the kitchen along with assured handling of the steak cooking that is the heart of their menu. With this stylish offering, it’s a place that should connect with an appreciative audience.

Blythe scores Bessie
4/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
4/5 for setting
3.5/5 for service
giving an overall 15/20

I ate: manuka smoked egg in onion veloute, bone-in ribeye

I drank: bubbles, red wine, water, espresso

I wore: denim trousers

Total bill: $125.50

Address: 178 St Asaph Street, Christchurch 8011

Written by BKR