Jarno Lehtinen (left) and Jacob Phillips (right), frontline staff at the highly recommendable Cod & Lobster Brasserie at the “top of Trafalgar”, the bars-and-eateries end of
Nelson’s main street.

Regular TPOC readers will know that a business doesn’t have to be or do anything particularly earth-shattering to appear as a “Getting It Right” story on this blog. Sometimes, it’s just an unexpectedly strong customer service ethos that gets me waxing lyrical.

Such is the case as a result of stopping into the Cod & Lobster Brasserie in Nelson this week for a nightcap.

I was on a two-day visit to this picturesque and particularly soul-uplifting small, regional city at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. Heading back to my digs for the night, I was overtaken by a sudden burning desire for a “baby-cino” i.e. the latte you have when you’re not having coffee. Or the hot chocolate you have when you’re not having chocolate.

It was late and the most likely place looked like this rather upmarket establishment with a good handful of diners still inside.

So I entered and approached the bar with the doubly challenging request: “Can you do a baby-cino with organic milk?”

‘Your Wish Is Our Command’

Now, at 9.30 on a Monday night in your average regional town restaurant, you wouldn’t expect too warm a response to that one.

But here’s what happened:

Two bar tenders . . . One apologised for the fact that, whilst they would indeed normally have organic milk to offer, their current supplier hadn’t fulfilled their order (or something like that). He then – unbidden – proceeded to investigate any other option in the café area, the bar, and the kitchen that might represent an acceptable substitute.

The other bar tender headed out to the fridges, “just in case” there was some organic milk he’d missed. There wasn’t, but – in the meantime – the first bar tender had trialled a baby-cino with some non-dairy cashew nut milk . . . with an extraordinarily delicious result.

The brasserie’s owners have preserved and played nicely on its 1930s exterior, pulling key elements of the era’s solid graciousness through to its interior, where they blend seamlessly with a more contemporary design approach.

With my appetite whetted, I then indulged in a “side” of rosemary chat potatoes . . . that turned out to be neither an ordinary “side”, nor any ordinary potatoes: A dish big enough to constitute a small main arrived at my table, with beautiful moist and tender little chats liberally coated in the freshest, surely just-picked, very large rosemary leaves, sprinkled with pleasantly bitey sea salt, and rolled in just the right amount of hot butter. A $7 dish. Extraordinary.

And of the service? My $12-in-total spend warranted two, if not three, visits by the waiter/bar tender to check on my satisfaction and to top up my iced water.

On top of all that, the ambience of the establishment is top-notch. A well-done blend of historical / classical and contemporary, with particularly nice mood lighting.

I’ll be making a beeline for a full dining experience there on my next trip to Nelson.

No question about that.

  • Kymberly Widley
    April 21, 2016

    Thank you so much for visiting Cod and Lobster and your fantastic article and pictures. My heart literally skipped a beat seeing the ‘pissedoffcustomer’ url but I needed to keep the faith! We love our fantastic staff and you’ve encountered their great hospitality. I have to mention also the delicious nut milk cones from ‘Gather Girl’ Hayley Richards -local raw food and vegan superstar. She will be thrilled to bits that you enjoyed her product. Thanks again, Kymberly

  • Chris P
    April 22, 2016

    That Jacob is such s fine man!

  • Jacob
    April 26, 2016

    Thank you again Jordan for that lovely, well-written article! I really appreciated it 🙂

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