The ilex café in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, New Zealand is a glorious combination of amazing food choices, good coffee and, if you sit outside, a personal bird experience. The orecchiette, peas and Parmesan salad was a good starter for our meal. We added the pretzel bread breakfast roll with egg and cherry hoisin. Our flat whites were decent.
But it’s the birds that make the ilex experience so much better. We had two kinds of ducks make their way to the eating area. One brown duck waddled between the eating area and the path to another building. She went back and forth as if she were on a mission pausing only to see if a piece of tree bark was edible. There were several gulls in the area. They sat on the tables where there weren’t guests and squawked at each other. The sparrows darted in, out and under the people’s feet. Sometimes, they would be daring enough to sit on the back of a seat at the same table. They wouldn’t get on the table for the most part.
And then there was the thief. The chaffinch with his beautiful blue plumage dodge right onto the backside of my plate and lifted some eggs from it. It hopped onto the table. Grabbed a better hold of some and flew off leaving a small piece behind. It happened so fast; I was surprised he had dared such a thing. The sparrow that sat on the back of the chair contemplated a long time before deciding to pick up the chaffinch’s leftovers. If you want a beautiful and fun bird experience while eating your lunch, ilex café in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens is a great place to be. (Please don’t feed the birds in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens or anywhere else in New Zealand. They need to be able to fend for themselves.)