On our second night out in Queenstown after a full day of snowboarding, we were after something that was quick and filling. We asked our concierge for something that had a good vibe with great tapas nearby. They had recommended Public Kitchen & Bar, which is located on the waterfront, a short 10 minutes walk from our hotel.
ATMOSPHERE & SERVICE
Located at Steamer Wharf along the shore of Lake Wakatipu, this waterfront restaurant owned and operated by Alex Boyes, Jan Rae and Martin and Megan James has brought a new meaning to an ‘upscale pub atmosphere’.
The venue offers a few different spaces depending on what type of atmosphere you are after. There is the formal dining room, tucked away in the back corner, the bar area for a more relaxed vibe, or their outdoor seating, available during the summer with views of the water.
The space takes on a vintage mismatched theme with a gorgeous oversized birdcage chandelier, antique style coloured high top tables and an original red Kiwi telephone box from Waihi Beach.
The service was friendly and attentive at times. Since we were the only table sitting in the bar area, I was expecting a bit more from a service side of things.
The menu focuses on Kiki fare, using the best local produce in Southland and Central Otago. We specifically came here on the concierge’s recommendation for tapas, so were keen to see what they had to offer on their tapas menu. Unfortunately, we arrived to just a normal a la carte menu with a small section of ‘smaller dishes’ to start. Since we were after tapas, we decided to order a few of the smaller dishes and see how we went. MC wanted to try the local ‘Oysters’ served natural to start.
Next up was the ‘Fresh Baked Homemade Garlic Bread’, which didn’t have much garlic flavouring. It was okay, but very basic and nothing special.
Next was the ‘Squid Rings’ which were salt & pepper style. These were pretty good, the batter was tasty and the squid wasn’t too chewy and well seasoned.
Next was the ‘Confit Duck Pancakes’ served with a pineapple & hoisin sauce. This was my tapas pick, and although a bit too sweet, the duck was tender and cooked perfectly.
Next was ‘Matt’s Spiced Chicken Nibbles’ which we were all excited for. Unfortunately this was the least liked dish out of everything we ordered. When we think of Chicken Nibbles (or wings) we expected a delicious crispy skin with juicy meat. This was just a wet mess. The spices used didn’t work together, resulting in us leaving the dish untouched.
Overall, I was expecting a bit more from this restaurant. Although the service was okay, the food didn’t live up to the expectation our concierge had made. This is very simple bar food that still has a long way to come, given their stunning location.
*Hero photo sourced from restaurant website