Mixed results for diners at pub
When our extended family group arrived at Pub on Wharf we didn’t realise we were just in time for a late-afternoon All Blacks test in Tokyo but were delighted to find a large booth table at the back of this busy and surprisingly spacious restaurant/ bar with an agreeable view of the game. The place was humming inside and out where you can also watch television or the world go by, mostly with visitors it appeared. We were keen to get some food under way so headed to the bar.
I sought drinks and menus from the bar and, while setting up a tab, pointed out that our table was the one with the children. I also asked for a bar menu as ‘‘there might be something suitable for the kids’’. Oh, said the barman, we have a kids’ menu. Yes, that would be handy. Then I noticed the kids’ menu has a colouring picture on the back – do they have any crayons or pencils? Yes, sure, came the reply. About five minutes later I was still waiting for the pencils at the bar and requested them again before they arrived, which all seemed a little bit silly. I had to prompt for everything. When we were seated at our table one staff member paid us considerable attention at first so that our orders were quickly sorted but later we struggled to stop any passing staff member to get some attention. In fact I’m still waiting for the dessert menu I requested after our meals. As we prepared to leave, having paid our bill and while the two kids fooled around at an empty neighbouring table, the staff member who initially looked after us hissed at us to keep the children nearby – that the venue was a pub now, not a restaurant. The time was about 7.45pm and it did not appear we were bothering anyone. We certainly weren’t made aware that there was some change in the venue’s clientele requirements. It took us a little by surprise and despite having rather enjoyed our meals, ensured we left with a sour taste in our mouths.
The menu is easily navigated with adults’ mains costing either $18 (pasta and salads) or $20 and all sides $6. We started with a delicious garlic flat bread to share ($10) before launching into the mains. Karl had a whole baked flounder (oven baked, served with rosemary potatoes, salad and caper butter sauce) which he really enjoyed although the size of the fish would have made it the throw-back variety if you’d caught it yourself. Kevin feared he wouldn’t make it through the BBQ Pork Ribs (coated in sticky plum sauce, served with coleslaw and fries) but was unable to stop until he had polished off the whole lot while Glenda couldn’t finish her thick chunks of South Island Lamb Rump (served medium-rare with rosemary potatoes, green beans and a harissa sauce). She felt they could have been cooked longer but, finishing the leftovers, Karl thought they were perfect. My own Pork Belly (soy and sake glazed and served on Asian-style vegetables) had wonderful flavour but was disappointingly dry. The kids’ menu is $10 for a main and our buttons both wanted the cheeseburger and chips. The burgers were good but really small and balanced out by the massive plateful of thick-cut chips. They also each enjoyed a $5 dessert (ice cream sundae or spider).
The food was mostly pretty good and certainly good value for money at Pub on Wharf. The environment was fun and lively and would be a comfortable fit for most groups. The service was mostly good but it appeared that while Pub on Wharf was equipped for family dining, the staff were either unfamiliar with dealing with families or not keen on them.
Location, location, location: Pub on Wharf, Queenstown.