We came to Astro twice in a weekend. Once just for late drinks, then again the next day for dinner. The mostly outdoor environment reminds me of the old High St cafes, or Cuba St for you Wellington folk. Rustic, eclectic and interesting.
We arrived and placed our order at the bar and found a table. There's quite a few tables here, with a mix of diners and drinkers.
Our food arrived in reasonable time. I had ordered the fish & chips which was some very nice fish and a huge pile of chips, with token salad. A companion had ordered the Pigs in Space (wrap) which she was quite enjoying until she found a short black hair mixed in her salad. She popped it on a side plate and took it to the kitchen to show the chef, and got a 'sorry' and was sent on her way. Not quite the way we expected that to be handled. When the waitress was clearing plates we brought it up with her again, and she said she would consult with the chef. Well, that was the last service we saw for the evening. I have no idea what the chef said to the waitress, but it must have been to dismiss us. So, feeling unloved, unappreciated and unwanted, we left.
While I would return for a beer or two, there is no way I will eat from here again. The food was good, but their lack of handling about hygiene issues makes me concerned and so I'll just avoid their food from now on.
We hadn't been to the Astro Lounge for a while but needed somewhere cool for lunch on a hot day. We ordered some plates to share, calamari, potato skins and bean dip with corn chips. The bean dip was really nice but we ran out of chips before the dip was finished. The skins and calamari were a bit of a let down. I'd had the calamari salad before and was very disappointed to see a plate consisting entirely of tentacles, no rings or strips. The tentacles were as tough as old boots and practically inedible. Such a shame as the dip was tasty. The skins were really overcooked but edible.
I gave the waiter feedback when he asked if the food was okay and said he'd pass the comments about the calamari back to the chef. When we went to pay, he didn't charge us for the calamari which was fine by me.
The outdoor setting could be so much better if it had a bit of a clean up. It's a quirky environment but there were a few areas that seemed to be a dumping ground. Otherwise its a good place to keep cool on a Summer day (or night).
We'd just been at the new 'Free Theatre' for a surreal experience only to come to the Astro lounge for an even more surreal experience. Just there for a drink and snack so can't comment on much more than the very weird and slightly un-hygienic service we experienced here.
Ordered drinks and a bowl of chips and then went to find somewhere to warm to sit. Table near the gas heater seemed good, but still had crumbs and mess from last diners. Sat down anyway and waiter came with water and glasses. He clumsily cleared some of food detritus with a receipt/bus ticket that had been left on table and we thought this was just the first clearance, but no..... he didn't come back with a cloth. Gross!! So we moved tables as the crumbs and greasy mess was pretty disconcerting. Noticed that another table near us was also cleared of plates and glasses, but not wiped down. Gross!! Waiter quite often hovered and refilled water glasses, he truly seemed like he had nothing much else to do (it was pretty quiet), but still the dirty tables were not cleaned down properly.
Also noticed that the enclosed area with no air flow was OK for smokers, which was also GROSS!
The bowl of chips were fine - shoe strings from the freezer/fryer that filled the gap, but we had to ask for tomato sauce.
I scored this as child friendly as there was a very happy child (aged about 4-5) running around and seemed to know and be comfortable with several customers at several tables.
Maybe it's an 'in' place with token cute child and weird service unless you are 'in' the right crowd.
Lovely Sunday afternoon with excellent live music from Brendan. Had a platter with a bit of everything: calamari, haloumi, chicken wings, fish, olives, pita crisps and bean dip, chillis stuffed with cheese, chickpea fritters and all sorts of sauces. The chicken wings, calamari and haloumi were the stand-outs, but all lovely and more than enough for the two of us. Shall return.
We had been given a gift voucher for the Astro Lounge which had expired last month much to my horror. A quick phone call confirmed that they were happy to honour it so we turned up the next day. The atmosphere is very casual and relaxed. Lots of small tables and umbrellas and a few couches under shelter.
We were a bit lost when we first walked around to the back and it took a few minutes of gazing aimlessly around before we saw the "Order at the bar" sign. We took our menus and found a seat in the shade. The menu is quite small but has something for everyone.
When I went up to order, I had a bit of trouble hearing what the bar staff said. The music, as lovely as it was, was blasting right into my eardrum as the speaker was directly above the bar. After a bit of shouting, we managed to order our food and drinks. They have a few boutique beers, a good selection of wines and Moa Weka cider on tap which I love!
Our food arrived very quickly, on plates and with real cutlery to my surprise. Management have obviously either read the comments on here or decided that 'disposable' is not great for the environment. I had the Meator sizzle plate of prawns which consisted of about 6 garlic prawns, astroslaw and a choice of fries or rice. The prawns were cooked perfectly and the fries were enough to share. The other diners had the calamari salad and pork sandwich. We were all happy with our meals and agreed that the prices were reasonable for the serving size. Meals range from fries at $5, $10 to $15 for most meals up to $35 for a platter to share.
We finished with brownies with ice cream and coffees all round. The coffee was hot and strong and the brownies delicious. Gooey and chocolately! The wait staff were extremely friendly and quite chatty without overstaying their welcome. We would happily go back and spend another couple of hours there on a Sunday afternoon.
Out back of Cook'n' with Gas, it has a nice ambience. Nice big petanque court and trees.
Food however left a lot to be desired. Very slow service however friendly but when the meals arrived I was a little taken aback. Served in cardboard boxes and plastic cutlery, it gave more of a feel of being at a sports event than a restaurant. The beef wrap was a very chewy cheap cut of meat, the space dogs (described as spicy lamb sausage served with spicy sauce) came out battered and on a stick. (can't i get this at the local fish and chip shop for way cheaper). The only decent meal was the fish and chips but then they are hard to get wrong. Churros for dessert were soggy and uncooked in the middle. They did actually attempt this twice but still couldn't get them cooked. I was very disappointed seeing as this is part of the Cook'n' with gas restaurant. We all would not go back. There are way too many nice cafes in christchurch to waste money and time on mediocracy.
Me and a work mate sneaked into town, keen to try the Astro Lounge after I had bought 3 vouchers at Christmas time for my family and Bruce had taken time out to show us around. The setting out the back is lovely, and I worry that people won't know it's there. (Very sheltered from the wind). We ordered a platter to share, plus a space dog, and churros for dessert. The platter is excellent value - I loved how you could get double the food for only $5 more (going from the $20 platter to the $25). I'd been keen to try the jalapenos poppers, and the space dog but in the end it was the other elements on the platter that really impressed me. The fish, the turkey, the salsa, the haloumi on bruschetta - mmmm mmmm mmm! And then we extended the experience by taking the churros back to work. A small criticism is that there could have been more description regarding ingredients eg if I had known the space dog had fennel seeds, I wouldn't have ordered that. Anyway I was still happy, and it was such an impressive experience that my work mate visited again the very next day with her boyfriend, and it looks like it will become their new "local". Well done, Cook n With Gas.
We shared four dishes - chicken wings, jalapeno balls (not sure what they were called), chips and fish. The chicken wings were very tender but the tomato sauce was missing something. The jalapeno balls were lovely. We were warned that the jalapeno dish was stuffed with cheese which would be very hot, it was, and despite trying to take care it still squirted out. The fish was nice. The plate of chips were perfectly hot and crisp.
The dishes were all served on cardboard serving boxes. I was a bit worried that the tomato sauce would leak everywhere but it seemed to stay contained. It would've been nice to have space in the chicken box for the bones.
The staff were great. When I was trying to pick a glass of wine, Bruce was there and listened to which wine I liked and was able to suggest a perfect replacement (given that my old favourite has changed).
The space behind Cook'n with Gas is perfect for their new enterprise. There are plenty of umbrellas so you could have as little or as much sun as you wanted.