It’s only been 14 months since Tom Worthington launched his “small, sunny, very blue sandwich shop”, Tom’s, on Ōtautahi Christchurch’s Southwark Street – but when an opportunity came up to open a second space 50 metres away, Worthington found he “couldn’t shake the thought”.
Estelle – which is named after Worthington’s niece, his parents’ only grandchild – opened two weeks ago on the ground floor of shared workspace QB Studios, inside an old flour mill (part of the old, bright red gantry still stretches across the space’s high ceilings). The team has added some gentle colour with artworks by Billie Culy and Emma Fitts; round, hand-felted New Zealand wool cushions by Misery Guts; and a new matte-navy Synesso espresso machine courtesy of Prima Roastery, which also provides the beans.
Worthington was approached by QB Studios just over three months ago to see if he’d like to move into the existing cafe space. Though initially daunted, he signed papers a couple of weeks later and started creating the Estelle concept with his good friend (now the cafe’s head chef) Will Lyons-Bowman, who is also the winemaker behind Vita Wines.
While Worthington’s first cafe is known and loved for its sandwiches and sweet treats courtesy of Cakes by Anna (founder Anna Worthington is his sister), Estelle’s daytime menu is inspired in part by the food Lyons-Bowman grew up eating – it’s a celebration of quality and simplicity.
You can see this in nostalgic dishes like rice pudding with seasonal fruit, and toast with toppings (no sandwiches here). The smoked fish, pickled currants and rhubarb toast has already proved popular, as has the white bean, salsa verde and za’atar version.
There’s also a farmer’s plate with rye bread, a boiled egg, cheddar, pickled beetroot, watercress and butter. Specials will rotate – recent ones include sage fried egg in a hole, and bread and butter pudding with custard.
One of the most beloved staples at Tom’s is the house-made pink iced bun. At Estelle, customers are staking out a different kind of bun – the maritozzi, a fluffy Italian brioche roll filled generously with fresh cream. They didn’t set out to make another signature snack, says Worthington – it was just “a cute accident!”
19 Southwark Street, Christchurch Central City
Mon to Fri 7am–3pm