Food:

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS -

At­mos­phere:

This popular cafe on the for­mer post of­fice site is now called The Ex­change. It has had a name change, and a mod­ern re­fur­bish­ment but re­mains pos­si­bly the cen­tral-Queen­stown cafe that cap­tures the most nat­u­ral light and warmth inside and out with its per­fect po­si­tion­ing and glass sur­rounds. Lo­cal art­work, friendly faces and a glimpse into the busy kitchen give it a cor­re­spond­ingly warm vibe.

We were pleased to see the bas­ket of chil­dren’s toys re­mained and hap­pily grabbed a seat in the sun while Miss 4 had a game. Less hap­pily, she stepped back­wards into the oil heater suf­fer­ing a mi­nor burn (red, but no tears). We pointed this out to the owner who of­fered any as­sis­tance nec­es­sary (not re­quired) and made noises about mov­ing the heater (a good idea we think). There is a break­fast menu from 7am un­til 3.30pm with 14 main dishes and lots of vari­a­tions and sides to choose from – not what we were after on this day but sounded per­fect for a long brunch.

The lunch menu (served 11.30am to 6pm) was more to our taste for a Fri­day lunch. Karl se­lected the Ste­wart Is­land Blue Cod, served with salad greens, le­mon-ca­per aioli and fries ($23). Be­ing a creature of habit he was not too sure of the chop­ping board pre­sen­ta­tion – ap­par­ently con­cerned any le­mon squeezed on this meal might spill over the side and onto his lap. I thought it looked great, ex­cept for the ob­vi­ously over­cooked fish.

In the mood for a bit of com­fort food my­self I strug­gled to de­cide be­tween the seafood chow­der (house spe­cialty, $15), the Croque Madam, Sauce Mor­nay (grilled ham and cheese sand­wich with a fried egg and mor­nay sauce, $17) and, my even­tual choice, the Thai Green Chicken Curry (kaf­fir lime scented rice, stir fried bok choy, $21). The bok choy was an ab­so­lute high­light. Yum, yum and yum.

I also en­joyed the curry – it lacked any heat in the spice but the lime was sharp and re­fresh­ing.

The fluffy, non-stick rice had nice flavour but led me to muse on the ob­ses­sion with rice that doesn’t stick to its fel­low grains. Sure no-one likes big blobs but how would mil­lions of Asians eat rice with chop­sticks if it didn’t con­tain starch?

From the mo­ment we walked in the door Miss 4 knew what she wanted and headed straight to the cab­i­net to or­der a large, home­made, sausage roll ($10). Thank good­ness it was still on the menu. I was con­cerned it would come out with a big bowl of rel­ish but for­tu­nately the ac­com­pa­ni­ment was tomato sauce, the per­fect ad­di­tion for this child. So en­am­oured was she with her de­light she didn’t even no­tice the chunks of onion.

We were drink­ing cof­fee and hot cho­co­lates on this day but the long list of craft beers and lo­cal wines was ap­peal­ing.

Ser­vice:

From the be­gin­ning staff were at­ten­tive and help­ful. Upon or­der­ing we were asked if we had a lo­cal’s card. No, we didn’t. Never mind, we were given a card and the 10 per cent dis­count.

As we waited for our meals we were ad­vised there was a hold up on the kitchen and it would be a lit­tle longer than nor­mal as we were at the end of a lunch time rush, which we ap­pre­ci­ated. It took about another 15 min­utes, which did seem to be a while for a week day lunch, and it wasn’t a full house.

Ver­dict:

The Ex­change re­tains many of the pos­i­tive at­tributes of its pre­de­ces­sor and it’s hard to beat it for a spot in the sun for a work day lunch or cof­fee.

It was not per­fect when we vis­ited but showed lots of promis­ing signs, in­clud­ing a de­li­cious menu, and we wish the new own­ers all the best.

The Ex­change Ad­dress: Bal­larat St, Queen­stown Phone: (03) 442 8238 Hours: 7.30am to 9pm

Deep fried: Blue Cod and Chips at The Ex­change.

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