Cafes and Restaurants » Queenstown

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?


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.


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.

Adventures in Queenstown

Northburn Station - Central OtagoOver the last few years, I’ve spent a lot of time in Queenstown. I lived there for about 18 months and have been for a couple of holidays before and since. Needless to say, I love the place; it has a unique combination of good food, great bars, plenty of things to do and see and a truly amazing surrounds and that is without mentioning the wine. Having just spent the better part of 8 weeks in Queenstown juggling eating, drinking, snowboarding and working I’m happy to be home yet sad to leave – it has been a great 2 months.

I don’t think I could say that over the 2 months we’ve eaten at every good restaurant in the resort – but we’ve damn well tried and I think the only restaurant on our list that we didn’t get to was closed for a private booking on our final night in town. There has been lots of meals, plenty of wine, a few photos and about 67 hamburgers to write about so it might span a few posts.

A few of the highlights from this trip have been:

  1. Northburn Station: Spending the afternoon talking to Tom and Jan about the young winery and function centre that is Northburn Station.
  2. Botswana Butchery: I’m a sucker for massive pieces of roasted meat so the slow-cooked lamb shoulder took me hook line and sinker.
  3. Eichardt’s Private Hotel – Far and away my favourite place in Queenstown, the cocktails are always great and the whole place makes you feel like a king.
  4. Motogrill – Being treated like a regular after not having been there for 18 months.

Fergburger has a new menu

I’m not entirely sure if I made it entirely clear the other day, but I’m in Queenstown for 7 weeks and you can bet your bottom dollar I’m going to be eating a fair few hamburgers. There’s a longer, more gushing blogpost about everything Fergburger coming soon, but in the meantime there is a few new items on the menu.

I’m not sure the last time they changed the menu here, but I don’t think it has changed in the last 3 years. So for what could be the most famous hamburger joint in the southern hemisphere, if not the world, this is big news.

There are 3 additions to the menu.

The Bulls Eye – $18.50

Prime New Zealand Ribeye steak (200g), Grilled medium, topped with rings of white onion, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, aioli and tomato relish.

Chief Wiggum – $14.50

Slow roasted pork belly, lettuce, tomato, red onions, hash brown with aioli, and a delicious spread of apricot seeded mustard.

Double Ferg with Cheese

Same as the old, twice the meat. With Edam ($10.50), Swiss or Blue ($11.50).

The New Fergburger Menu

On Being a Regular

Motogrill There is nothing better than being a regular at your favourite bar or coffee shop. It’s like the Cheers song, you keep going back because everyone knows your name and they are glad you came. It’s as though even the coffee tastes better when it’s served by a barista that knows your order or a barman that knows you like heaps of ice in your drink.

It’s probably been about 18 months since last I had a coffee at Motogrill. I wouldn’t have ever considered myself a regular there but after a few minutes of sitting at the counter one of the owners turns around and asks, “You guys haven’t been in here for a while, have you?” She even remembered the running joke I had with one of the baristas about how they needed to serve beer. Turns out, now they do.

Not much else has changed, the menu is still about 8 different dishes, written on a blackboard above the stove. The cafe itself is bigger, but the furniture is still the same and I think I spotted a NZ Snowboarder magazine that I read 2 years ago sitting on the same table.

It is so easy to get caught up in the launch of a new cafe, the latest coffee brewing method or a new menu at a cool cafe. But it is little things like the barista knowing your order and the waitress knowing your name that actually mean something.

Gone camping


Posting may be a little slow over the next few weeks as we are in Queenstown snowboarding. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of eating and drinking.

Here’s a photo…

Bob’s Weigh Cafe, Queenstown, New Zealand

Bob's Weigh, Queenstown It doesn’t take many things to make a good cafe, what’s needed is to do the simple things well. Good coffee, good food, friendly staff, a cozy shop and good location. Bob’s Weigh ticks all of these boxes but you might only remember one of them if you happen to have an encounter with Bob himself. He’s the guy working in the kitchen that greets pretty much everyone that walks into the shop with a friendly g’day, maybe introducing himself and huge smile. He’s a man that loves his job.

While Bob is friendly, you might think he’s too friendly. He’s nothing until you meet his mother. Mad Mary (she makes the jam for the toast) has a very curious presence, pink or purple hair, a strange dress sense and a wicked sense of humour, she runs all over the cafe laughing and having a good time. It’s this sense of humour that probably forced her to decorate the cafe with scales, there is weighing devices of every shape and form on the shelves and walls and Bob himself doesn’t quite know why.

The bizarre decor and the quirky staff give the cafe a very homely feel that doesn’t stop when you order breakfast. Nothing on the menu could be described as gourmet, which just adds to the allure of the place. Toast, muesli, bacon and eggs and omelettes is the faire all topped off with beautiful homemade jam and chutney. There is nothing out of the ordinary about the drinks menu, except the Chai latte. It’s not the mellow cinnamon drink you expect, it’s extra spicy and very tasty but, not for the faint of heart. The prices on are reasonable and if you bring in your own cup for a takeaway coffee, they’ll knock 50c off the price – just how it should be.

Everything about this cafe is like home, you could cook everything on the menu at home, but you wouldn’t do as good a job. You could make the jam, but it wouldn’t be as nice, same goes for the coffee and besides you would have to do the dishes. Talk to Bob, he’ll be happy to do them for you.

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Arrowtown Bakery – Brilliant Meat Pies

As far as drunk and hangover foods go, the meat pie is one of the brilliant, can’t go wrong sort of selections. It’s beauty is in it’s ubiquity, it’s always available, it’s cheap, easy and as greasy as you like. But, not all pies were created equal, a frozen supermarket pie microwaved is always inferior to the same pie oven-cooked and at the top of this pyramid of brilliance are bakeries. Not just any old chain of bakery though, the sort that claim they have world class pies, the sort that have a 4 page pie menu and the sort that people drive from miles around just “for a pie”.

Arrowtown Bakery is one of these places, now they don’t make the outrageous claims of being world famous and the bit about the 4 page pie menu was a bit of an embellishment but people really do drive from miles around to get the pies. Now, let me assure you, they don’t dissapoint. The menu consists of a heap of different chicken pies; spicy chicken; cream of chicken; chicken and cheese and plain old chicken. They also have your normal staple of mince, steak, steak and onion and steak and cheese along with a couple of not so run of the mill – bolognaise and lamb and mint. Lamb is up there with my 4 favourite meats and it lends itself perfectly to being low cooked, roasted or baked. Needless to say I was heartily impressed by a lamb pie.

Not only are the fillings brilliant but that’s not all there is to a pie, the other ingredient is pastry and it doesn’t fail to impress here either. The pastry literally melts in your mouth, the top is crisp nut not tough and the pie itself holds itself together. This in itself is part of the genius, there is nother better than not having to worry about mince down your front when you are hoeing into your hangover cure.

All in all these parcels of oven-baked pastry-laden meat are amazing. If you are in the Wakatipu, hangover or no, the 15 minute drive to Arrowtown is well worth the effort.