Now we’re at Level One and can confidently park Covid (hopefully forever), it’s time to get out and start exploring our beautiful country. I’m in Arrowtown and recently posted about some of the great things I’ve done over the past couple of weeks – ‘Queenstown is waiting for you.’ The response to the post was great so here’s another blog post on the best of Arrowtown’s restaurants and bars. I’ve frequented all these establishments and they offer excellent food and service. The hospitality businesses are hurting here, but they’re gradually opening and with Jetstar offering $48 fare from Auckland to Queenstown, I’m confident this place will be back in business in no time.
Akarua is my favourite of all of Arrowtown’s restaurants. They deliver a wonderful food and wine experience. The restaurant is in a small historic cottage, set in a beautiful garden. More often that not, the sun is shining and the tables outside are utilised, even through the winter. Executive chef John Pickens, has a knack for creating honest and delicious shared plates. You must start with their bread and olives and somewhere in your selection from the menu include the lamb oyster shoulder.
Of Arrowtown’s restaurants, La Rumbla, is another of my favourites. This tapas and cocktail bar is casual, but delivers incredibly good food. The ever-changing menu takes its inspiration from the streets of Catalonia with delicious sharing plates. If the wagyu beef or duck breast are on the menu, give them a go. The food is excellent, but make sure you book to avoid disappointment. Post-Covid, La Rumbla has made a few tweaks to their opening hours and have started serving lunch on Sundays. With an excellent set menu at $45 per head and live music, there was no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The chef at La Rumbla adds the final touches of prawn and fish to the paella.
54 Buckingham Street, Arrowtown
Open 4pm -10pm (Closed Monday), plus Sunday lunch
Kobe is the Japanese restaurant in at Millbrook Resort. The intimate, small restaurant offers a great selection of fresh food, much of which is prepared in the centre of the restaurant. Their blue cod, cooked tempura style is delicate and delicious.
1124 Malaghans Rd, Arrowtown 9371
Open weekends until July when it will resume normal hours
4. The Blue Door
In the heart of Arrowtown, down a small lane is the Blue Door. It’s literally just that, a blue door with no signage. If you didn’t know it was there you would never find it. Ducking to get through the small door, the bar is rustic with low ceilings creating an intimate atmosphere. Crammed with old leather chairs and a few wine barrels the locals flock to this hub, especially on Wednesday nights when there’s live music. On the quieter nights of the week sit in front of the fire and order some food from Fan Tan across the way.
8 Buckingham Street, Arrowtown
Open 5 pm till late
5. Fan Tan Kitchen and Bar
Fan Tan is opposite the Blue Door. It’s a blend of east, west fare. Sitting at the bar we shared prawn dumplings in a sticky laska sauce, followed by a take on Peking Duck. Rather than the skin of the duck, we had duck confit. As it fell from the bone we wrapped it in fine rice pancakes, smeared it with hoisin sauce, adding a few julienne strips of spring onion and cucumber and chowed it down. For a special occasion book the chef’s bench. There’s room for four people to sit and watch the team at work in the kitchen while being fed by the chef. $75 a head.
Open for lunch and dinner
18 Buckingham Street, Arrowtown
5. Wet Jacket
The old Bendemeer wool shed, once part of Bendemeer Station, is now Wet Jacket’s cellar door and home to Whitestone’s cheese room. The rustic building is inviting with a feeling of yesteryear. It’s tucked behind Amisfield, at the entrance to Bendemeer estate. Pop in for a wine tasting or better still sit outside in the garden in the summer and enjoy one of their fine wines with cheese. Over the summer months, local chefs and food trucks provide great food to be enjoyed in the casual garden setting, on bean bags under umbrellas.
1 Bendemeer Lane, Lake Hayes
Open 11am -6pm daily
6. The Chop Shop Food Merchants
The first thing you notice when you walk into Chop Shop is the décor. It’s the most remarkable fit out with everything old; books, fabrics, typewriters, couches, vases. Vintage can really work. The owner said they were on the teensiest budget and everything had to be made, reinvented or recycled. Moving on from the décor, the food is excellent. The sharing plates have a light and refreshing east, west flare.
Arrow Lane, Arrowtown
Open from 7am – 4pm daily, later on Fridays for ”post-work drinks”.
7. The Fork and Tap Ale House
The Fork and Tap is a charming, historic pub in Arrowtown with a great selection of craft beers and wine to match the food. It’s casual with some sharing platters and great pub food including fish and chips, pork belly burger and slow-cooked lamb shoulder.
51 Buckingham St, Arrowtown 9302
Open 11am – 11pm daily
8. Amisfield Bistro & Cellar Door
Amisfield has taken its food to a new level of presentation. With the 3 or 5 courses ‘Trust the Chef’ menu for lunch and a 7-course menu for dinner you will be delighted not just with the taste sensations, but also the theatre that accompanies it. If you are worried about dietary requirements they will work around the most unusual requests. My all-time favourite dish is this frozen tamarillo. With a bang from the back of a spoon, it shatters with blood-red tamarillo flowing out. The taste is sensational. The courses can be matched with Amisfield wines or purchased separately.
10 Arrowtown-Lake Hayes Rd, Frankton,
Open 12pm-8pm daily
9. Hole in One
The ‘Hole in One’ at Millbrook Resort is a delightful café and bar. It caters for every minute of the day with great coffee, delicious scrolls, soup for lunch and après ski wine all in front of the fire, during the winter , or outside in the summer. The atmosphere is relaxing and there is no better place to read the newspaper or catch up with friends.
1124 Malaghans Rd, Arrowtown 9371