Pizza wins hands-down on hotel menu
Hotel restaurants are always an interesting prospect because the hit and miss margin can be so wide, so a good dose of curiosity accompanied us to the Hotel St Moritz’s Lombardi’s in-house restaurant. There’s not much parking at the hotel site on Brunswick St, so we asked about that when booking. The good news is they’ll arrange free valet parking if you’re dining – so make sure to book and that will be sorted.
Being up there amongst Queenstown’s top hotels means the hotel’s main lobby is inviting, with lots of effort thrown at the decor. We get seated in Lombardi’s ‘‘library room’’, with an open fire and lots of loungey couches and armchairs, which is cosy. I think the hotel restaurant hit and miss rate is so high because any popular hotel has an in-built clientele – those staying there – and it can often feel like you are dining in a hall guests will be using for their buffet breakfast the next morning. Lombardi’s have obviously tried to sidestep this potential problem by making the library room a feature, but I’m not convinced a bookshelf with a few dog-eared Wilbur Smith novels and National Geographic magazines completely solves the situation – they do get points for effort though.
The service was great. Our waitress, Ivana from the Czech Republic, was gorgeous, chatty and attentive, and earned herself a tip. The guy at the till did seem a bit confused on how to split the bill though, and it took a few goes for him to actually get it right.
We’re both really hungry, so flag the entrees in favour of a shared pizza first up – it’s cheaper than two entrees and filling, and I’m really glad we took this approach. The Tubero Pizza ($20) has a herb and ricotta base and comes with honey roasted winter vege, homemade fetta and basil pesto. This was really filling and really tasty, and thinking we’d have to leave room for the main course we got a few pieces put in a doggie bag to eat at home. For mains I went for the Wild Fiordland Venison Loin ($37) and Ames went for the Mediterranean Market Fish ($36). The venison was good, but not great. Some nice flavours, but it all felt a bit tame for a wild meat from one of the most renowned suppliers in the world (Fiordland). The Kingfish was nicely seared, but as a whole this dish was the equivalent of a kitchen car crash – too many flavours vying for attention just draws attention to the fact that well executed simplicity is better than trying too hard to impress – so the mains were pretty disappointing. To tell the truth I wish we’d just stuck to the amazing pizza. While we got the vego option it looked like there were some really interesting meat & chicken combos on the menu.
I find hotel restaurant executive chefs too often try to push that ‘‘five star feeling’’ into their menus when they’d be better off keeping things simple. So, Lombardi’s gets the five star rating for its pizzas, but gets a two star for its mains.
And the winner is . . . the pizza for crisp clean flavours, which in my book beats too many complex flavours vying for attention in one dish.
Lombardi’s restaurant @ Hotel St Moritz Address: 10-18 Brunswick St, Queenstown Phone: 03 442 4990 Licensed : Yes Rating: Food 2.5/4, Service 3.5/4, Atmosphere: 1/2