ADDRESS:   5/2 Papanui Rd, Merivale, Christchurch
MAINS:   $17 – $35
CONTACT:   0210 293 5641
SCORE:   16 / 20

The centrepiece of the occasion may be the whole lemon sole, which arrives with the scent of the woodfired oven clinging to it and a rich chilli, cider and butter sauce to enhance its delicate flavours. It is an object lesson in simple cooking and supreme freshness. Gatherings is not for large, er, gatherings (it seats a maximum of 20), but it’s big on warmth and taste and generosity of spirit, which we love. Chef/owner Alex Davies vows to cook with the region’s seasons, and centres his daily-changing menu around New Zealand fish that is responsibly sourced. Order a little bit of everything and graze happily, he suggests. As we did. Davies trumpets his wines, claiming it’s “New Zealand’s first exclusive natural wine bar” – they’re available by the glass and they all work well with the food.

IN BRIEF Kaimoana–centred Cantabrian celebration