FOOD FOR THOUGHT New kid on the wharf

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES -

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.

At­mos­phere:

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.

Food:

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).

Ser­vice:

The staff were oblig­ing, an­swer­ing our many ques­tions and work­ing on some­thing to feed the fussy child. We did need to ask for uten­sils.

Ver­dict:

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.

Fab food:

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