Luciano’s, Queenstown

Luciano’s can be described quite simply, great meat cooked brilliantly. If you take away the mobster theme; the walls covered in quotes from gangster films, the Tommy gun mounted on the wall near the entrance, and the blues brother’s car that drives around town; then the food can stand on it’s own. I believe Luciano’s is the best restaurant in Queenstown – the food isn’t quite as refined as a couple of other places, however the price is great and the vibe is familiar.

The origins of the food As the menu suggests (see picture) the produce is all sourced as locally as possible and is as fresh as possible. The menu is italian, pizza, pasta, and meat. I haven’t even considered the pizza or pasta – the “3 hour slow roasted 90 day aged Hereford rib-eye baked gratin, seasonal veg, whole garlic & pinot jus” or “Wild fiordland venison, bacon arancini, Sicilian caponata & cherry balsamic” are far too tempting. To make matters even better, the prices are great – any one of these mains for $30  would be a steal but the entire menu is downright outrageous. Couple this with the fact that the portions are quite large and not only do you have brilliant food, it is at great value.

The food isn’t thae only thing going for it, the service is great; friendly, prompt and courteous and the wine list is well considered, a good range of prices and varieties but nothing over the top or pretentious.

What more can I say? Luciano’s probably isn’t going to feature on the list of New Zealand’s best restaurants but it damn well should. It encapsulates everything that the south holds dear – great food, good produce and a warm friendly atmosphere.

Duck & goose liver pate

The duck and goose liver pate. I’m not normally a fan of pate however this was sweet and rich but not the flavour wasn’t too overpowering.

Slow cooked wild rabbit & hare, grilled brioche, quince c

Slow cooked rabbit and hare ragu with brioche and chutney. I’m a sucker for ragu and this didn’t fail to impress. The gamey meats are perfectly suited for slow cooking – it falls apart perfectly but still maintains a great texture in your mouth. Served with brioche and chutney what more can I say?

Duck

Half a duck w baked kumara & leek, green beans, toasted almonds & caramelised orange sauce. I only tasted a little bit of the duck and the meat was beautiful but the skin was a touch too fatty. As far as I’m concerned this was the only blemish and perhaps hard to avoid.

Venison

The main attraction. Wild fiordland venison, bacon arancini, Sicilian caponata & cherry balsamic. If I didn’t like all the other food so much, I’d say this was my favourite dish. There’s something about venison that makes me wish for a baby’s bib so I don’t have to hold the drool in my mouth. This was no exception. The sweetness of the balsamic reduction cut through the weight of this dish brilliantly.

Rhubarb & hazelnut crumble, berry sorbet

Rhubarb crumble with berry sorbet. Warm, comforting rhubarb. Sweet, acidic sorbet. Almond meal crumble. A well-balanced almost savoury dessert.

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