FOOD FOR THOUGHT New kid on the wharf
Atlas is the new kid in the Steamer Wharf block and we had been hearing good things about what the new owners had been doing in this quirky little space.
Those familiar with the premises will surely enjoy the geographical/ historical/mathematical take on the de´cor and be pleased to find the toilets still safely hidden behind a sliding book shelf of sorts.
The busy walls and the large windows looking out over Lake Wakatipu gave a perception of space, quickly removed when you try to sit down with more than one buddy. Our family of four found ourselves squished into the only table large enough to accommodate us without sitting in the Steamer Wharf itself – a tad too chilly on this freezing mid winter day.
There are menus everywhere at Atlas – a blackboard menu when you walk in, a couple of bits on the walls and, thankfully, a written menu. There’s some great breakfast selections costing from $8 to $18 and the lunches moved from sandwiches and burgers to salads and hot lunches. Karl quickly chose the Beefburger with hash brown, bacon and cheese on sourdough with fries ($16.50). Being somewhat of a connoisseur of burgers and chips he can be a bit difficult to please but this one ticked every box.
I struggled to decide between the chicken parmigiana with mustard mash and salad ($18.50) and the Mexican spiced chicken in tomato with cheese, sour cream, avocado and lettuce in a tortilla wrap ($16.50). With the wait staff’s help I settle on the tortilla and couldn’t have been happier. It was deliciously filling without crisp flavours and a perfect combination of textures and temperatures.
We struggled to find something suitable for Miss-I-Only-Want-Fishand-Chips but after a search the chef agreed to make her a ham and cheese sandwich, after which she decided that wasn’t what she wanted and chips would be great, thanks ($6). Older sister had the BLT pretzel ($9.50) and while a hint of something spicy put her off, I thought it was fabulous – the pretzel an unexpected bready delight.
I enquired about evening meals and the staff revealed another blackboard – this one containing an amazing sounding Tapas menu including crispy squid, duck and coconut curry with poppadums, house cured beef and many other delights, all around the $9 mark. There was also a small selection of mains – all under $20 – including rump steak (we are told Atlas is known for this), crumbed chicken, whole roasted sole and homemade beef sausage.
Given that Atlas describes itself as a ‘‘Beer cafe´’’ and ‘‘Queenstown’s home of craft beer’’, it would have been wrong of us not to sample some of the
Mexican spiced chicken in tomato with cheese, sour cream, avocado and lettuce in a tortilla wrap from Atlas Beer Cafe. boutique offerings including varieties of Emerson’s and Cooper’s on tap plus beers from Queenstown based Altitude Brewing and a variety of guest beers. Karl sampled an Emerson’s Pale Ale ($8.50) and was unable to finish his large glass for lunch. I had no such problem with my (nameless) Central Otago Pinot Gris ($9).
The staff were obliging, answering our many questions and working on something to feed the fussy child. We did need to ask for utensils.
Normally I amsuspicious of a small kitchen that offers a wide variety of meals but Atlas pulled off everything we asked of them and I amkeen to return and find out more. The Tapas menu and great selection of beers could make for a long and enjoyable evening chatting with friends. It would be a pity to see them move from this delightful little spot but more room would be great.