Quintessential taste of Queenstown
In more than four years in Queenstown (don’t worry I’m not calling myself a local) I’ve never been here for dinner. Inside is a low-light affair, the kind of place where you can cosy up, sip wine and while away the hours enjoying good food. We ordered wine and Central Otago rabbit rillette ($18) and bruschetta with roast beetroot ($15) for entrees after a while studying the new menu. They were fantastic, the addition of beetroot to bruschetta was a little different but really worked. The rillette was amazing; chunky forkfuls of rabbit on crusty bread with sups of wine goes down well. The rillette was packed so tightly it was a little difficult to handle but given the flavour and texture that’s hardly a complaint. For the mains we ordered Angus eye fillet medium rare with slow-cooked beef cheek and Yorkshire pudding ($36) and a trio of duck, confit, croquette and roast breast with mash and cabbage ($41), both of which were expertly cooked and faultless meals. The fillet steak was perfectly medium-rare and the cheek was melt-in-your-mouth while the trio of duck presented a delicious variety of flavours and textures. The confit was the winner. It was succulent and tender, the croquette was full of flavour and the breast was falling apart.
Great. Our Irish waiter was attentive and chatty without being obtrusive. We were seated on a reasonably quiet night in May but even on a busy night the tables are set far enough apart to enjoy a private conversation. Throughout the meal the staff checked on us, offering wine, topping up water and ensuring we were happy with our meals. During the meal the reviewer was, however, rumbled and told the waiter that there might well be a review. It was only at the end of the meal that we told staff that, yes, a review was on the cards. The idea when reviewing is to stay incognito because we don’t want extra service. We want what any other diner gets any night of the week. In this case, the service was very good and all the other diners appeared well looked after too.
High-end, Pier 19 offers a dining experience in the heart of the tourism district and enjoys views of Lake Wakatipu and, if you’re lucky, the TSS Earnslaw practically steaming past the window. Inside, with low lighting, minimal decor and an inviting bar, it’s the kind of place that will entice plenty of tourists. The proprietors are well-known around the resort (they also run Captain’s Restaurant) and there is no reason why Pier 19 can’t be a restaurant for tourists and residents too. The food was very filling and our meal for two with three glasses of wine and an Irish coffee was $160.
Fine dining: Pier 19’s trio of duck, confit, croquette and breast and Angus beef with slowcooked beef cheek and Yorkshire pudding.