At La Rumbla in Arrowtown, the atmosphere is buzzing and the food is fresh and tangy, with plenty of Latin American spice. Created by Sam Gruar, a previous manager at Eichardts Private Hotel, and Penelope Johnson (known as PJ), who managed Barmuda and helped set up Botswana Butchery, the restaurant was born out of a love for Spain. The couple lived there for a number of years and their knowledge and passion for the food and energy of the country is evident in the restaurant, with its brightly coloured murals by Flox and delicious menu made for sharing.
Meet the Chef: Jay Sherwood
When he’s not cooking at La Rumbla, executive chef Jay Sherwood is brewing fine craft beers from sister restaurant Slow Cuts for his boutique brewery, Lake & Wood Brew Company, which services many of Arrowtown’s pubs, bars and restaurants. Hailing from Los Angeles, Sherwood has extensive knowledge of Latin American cuisine and a love for the hospitality scene and for Arrowtown, where he has lived for the past six years.
Fine clothing may not be necessary at the Sherwood restaurant, but the food is definitely fine dining quality. Awarded a Cuisine Hat in 2019/20 and listed as one of the 100 Best New Zealand Restaurants in the Good Food Guide, the menu favours freshness, flavour and seasonality. The atmosphere here is vibrant, with the philosophy behind the hotel-retreat-restaurant being one of fostering community through food, arts, and wellness. The restaurant sources a good deal of its food from its huge, on-site gardens. All kitchen waste is also composted on site and fed back into the gardens, making this a guilt-free addition to your Queenstown fine dining experience.
Meet the chef: Chris Scott
With previous positions at 5-star restaurants Rata and Jack’s Point Clubhouse, Chris Scott knows Queenstown. Using the best the region has to offer, he creates unique, flavour-filled meals at Sherwood, using ingredients which are often sourced just a few steps from the kitchen. If Chris can’t find what he needs for a dish on-site, he uses only local and organic producers to ensure seasonality, freshness and a low environmental impact.
Awarded 2 hats at the 2019 Cuisine Good Food Awards, Rata is a stalwart in the Queenstown dining scene. The beautifully structured restaurant is ensconced in an urban forest of native trees, with the crimson-blossomed rata lending its name to the establishment. These trees also lend the restaurant its philosophy of keeping things local and native, with inspired dishes created with New Zealand ingredients and decidedly of the countries diverse cultural traditions. A casual dining atmosphere with exceptional meals and attentive waitstaff make this a sure win for a 5-star Queenstown dining experience.
Meet the chef: Jonathan Williams
Born in the northwest of England, Jonathan Williams didn’t grow up wanting to be a chef, but discovered his passion for food and cooking while he was working in restaurants as a way to put himself through school. Jonny spent many years honing his skills at Michelin Star restaurants across Europe, working his way up from Chef De Partie under Scottish Chef Alan Murchison to Junior Sous Chef under British Chef Simon Radley. After moving to New Zealand and working with closely with Josh Emmet at Rata, he was promoted to Head Chef in early 2018.
Named after an alpine valley in Italy with a similar climate to Central Otago and a place that inspired executive chef Ben Bayly’s multi award-winning cooking style, Aosta is a relatively new addition to the fine dining scene in the region. It is also an excellent reason to detour to the historic village of Arrowtown, as the menu is top-notch and the amazing service is matched by a wine list that reflects the best local and Italian offerings. Encased in an architecturally designed fit-out that won a 2020 Southern Architecture Award, the restaurant is nestled on the main street and is open in the evenings.
Meet the chef: Ben Bayly
Cutting his teeth at highly acclaimed restaurants in Melbourne, Las Vegas, and around the United Kingdom and France, Ben Bayly is also known for his work in leading, multi award-winning Auckland restaurants The Grove and Baduzzi. His food philosophy is based around creating seasonal dishes using heirloom and small-scale growers and organic produce, to create cuisine that builds beautiful relationships.
With Cuisine Good Food Award-winning Chef of the Year Vaughan Mabee at the helm, Amisfield Restaurant’s 3 hat status means it remains a key destination on any fine dining Queenstown itinerary. Set on beautifully landscaped grounds above Lake Hayes, patrons can sit fireside inside the classic central Otago, chapel-like stone building, or enjoy an al fresco meal with views of local vineyards and the surrounding mountains. The restaurant is famous for its seasonal and ever-delightful degustation menu, which is available for lunch or dinner sittings, and for its exceptional service.
Meet the chef: Vaughan Mabee
Kiwi-born, Vaughan sharpened his culinary skills during his travels across Europe, including his work at a three-star Michelin restaurant in San Sebastian and at famed two Michelin star Noma in Copenhagen. Back in New Zealand, he was drawn to Amisfield for its sterling reputation and works closely with local producers, foragers and fishermen to create an ever-changing seasonal menu that celebrates the bounty of the region.
The Grille by Eichardt’s
With a history that goes back to the days before Queenstown had any streets at all, let alone a restaurant, the iconic Eichardt’s Private Hotel is synonymous with luxury and the same can be said for its restaurant. Attached to the historic Eichardt’s building, just a skipping stone from the lake, this is prestigious dining at its best, with an atmosphere reminiscent of the brasseries and bistros of Paris and New York City. The menu is fulfilling and sumptuous, using the best that Otago and Southland has on offer.
Meet the Chef: Will Eaglesfield
Born in London and with many years of experience in the kitchens of 5-star restaurants in the Mediterranean and French Alps, Will Eaglesfield is executive chef not only for The Grille by Eichardt’s but also Eichardt's Bar. He brings British, European and Mediterranean influences to his menu and works alongside The Grille Head Chef Trent Watson to bring contemporary twists to traditional cuisine.
No tour of Queenstown’s fine dining restaurants would be complete without a stop at Botswana Butchery. Seated in Queenstown’s historic Archer’s Cottage overlooking sparkling Lake Wakatipu, Botswana Butchery takes ambience and comfort to a new level, with roaring fires, lush seating and top-notch service from knowledgeable and detailed oriented staff. The menu is both hearty and refined and the wine list is unmatched, with a private cellar of more than 1800 bottles.
Meet the chef: Warwick Taylor
Hailing from South Africa, head chef Warwick Taylor honed his skills at five-star hotels and resorts in the area and across Europe, culminating in becoming part of the opening team for Greece’s award-winning Costa Navarino complex, which includes fourteen on-site restaurants. He believes that by using boutique suppliers of quality produce and meats, the quality and true flavour of an ingredient can be reflected on the plate, and this philosophy can be seen in the meals he creates at Botswana.
Jervois Steak House
Steak lovers unite at Jervois Steak House, where meat is the order of the day, every day. Located near the Sofitel with a fit-out that has the moody aesthetic of an upscale hunting lodge, the Queenstown iteration of Jervois Steak House (the original is located on Jervois Rd in Auckland) invites dining on hearty meals with plenty of flavour and richness, surrounded by hearty laughter and conversation.
Meet the Chef: Josh Harris
Cooking was part of Josh Harris’ DNA from a very young age where he started at the bottom, slowly working himself up the ranks. Following a 10-year stint at one of Queenstown’s longest running restaurants, Gantley’s, he now heads up the kitchen at Jervois Steakhouse working alongside some of the best chefs in the business including Nourish Group’s Executive Chef, Gareth Stewart. His love for the deep South and his passion for hunting, fishing and diving is the inspiration behind his cooking where he experiments with the likes of wild Fiordland venison and Stewart Island salmon, crayfish and paua as well as Bluff oysters. When he’s not in the kitchen, you’ll find Josh off the southern tip of Stewart Island gathering the mutton bird (Titi) – one of the South’s most prized culinary delights.
Aptly named, the Bunker is the restaurant of choice if you want to escape the hustle and/or the weather and melt into a cosy table by the fire to enjoy a sumptuous meal. The restaurant is small and intimate, seating just 30, with low lighting and a nostalgic vibe. Food is ‘rustic fine dining’ style - in other words, the cuisine is top-notch but not too fussy. Taking advantage of fresh, local produce, the menu merges European and kiwi flavours and the wine and cocktail list is to die for.
Meet the Chef - Ben Norfolk
Co-owner and executive chef for the Bunker, renowned local chef Ben Norfolk has been working at his craft for a long time, and it shows. His dishes at the Bunker change with the seasons and always provide pleasant surprises, with freshly caught seafood and wild game often gracing the menu. In 2019, Ben was a finalist in the Hospitality Awards’ Outstanding Chef title in Queenstown.