It’s Winter Festival this week in Queenstown, and a great excuse to try some amazing food. When we were there recently we had an amazing first night which started with dinner at Finz Seafood & Grill Restaurant. I had heard lots of good things about the restaurant in the past but had never been, and as a big foodie and seafood lover myself, I was really looking forward to seeing what they had on offer.
The restaurant has a fabulous setting – right on the wharf in Queenstown overlooking the lake and the jetty from which TSS Earnslaw takes off from. Queenstown is beautiful at night, lots of little lights sparking and being right on the waterfront definitely created the right ambiance. It was a cold but clear winters night so we had wrapped up warm for the short walk from our hotel to the restaurant.
When we arrived at Finz, we were shown to our table by our lovely waitress for the evening. My first thought was that it was incredibly hot in the restaurant as they had a gas outdoor style heater above our table, but she very kindly turned it off for us and after peeling off a few of the many layers we had on, we were just right and ready to examine the menu. There were some beautiful sounding dishes listed and it was definitely hard to make a choice. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more seafood things on the menu though. For some reason I thought it would be a lot bigger and wouldn’t have so many meat dishes. I think part of it was the fact that a lot of things I had never tried before, and although I LOVE seafood I’m always scared of ordering something will appear at the table with it’s head on still – I’ll eat anything seafood but that doesn’t mean I want to make eyes with it whilst I’m doing so. Luckily our waitress was really great and made some great suggestions and ended up choosing a main course for me.
So we had the following:
For entree we started with the Finz cob loaf with garlic butter, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I have to say that this was possibly one of the nicest freshly baked breads I have had in a long time. It literally melted in your mouth. It must have come straight from the oven as it was delicious and hot. The garlic butter had just the right amount of kick to it without us being able to chase away vampires for the rest of the night. My only negative if you can call it one, was that there was a little too much olive oil and not enough balsamic vinegar. They were in a small bowl together and I LOVE balsamic vinegar so would have loved to have had a little bit more of that. Once we’d dipped our bread a few times though a lot of the olive oil had been soaked up, which meant that I was able to get the vinegar taste I was after.
For main course I (with the help of our waitress) decided on the pan seared Turbot with braised fennel, citrus dressing and roasted potatoes. I don’t recall ever had turbot before and I have to say it was absolutely delicious. It had a subtle flavour to it and literally melted in my mouth. The combination of flavours in the dish worked really well together and it was definitely one of my favourite dishes I’ve had in a long time. My absolute favourite thing was the citrus dressing – it’s was sensational. It worked so well with the fish and the vegetables on the plate and really brought all the flavours together beautifully.
Rory had the New Zealand lamb cutlets with semolina gnocchi, sautéed peas, broad beans and sheep’s feta. Here’s his review of it:
Every year I have a favourite 5 meals. These can be just from taste, the certain occasion, or something funny that happened that made it memorable. My meal at Finz has made it into my top 5 already for this year. The lamb cutlets were cooked to perfection, with nicely textured broad beans, sautéed peas and a moreish semolina gnocchi. The sheep’s feta set off the meal nicely and kept it well balanced. Coupled with the right atmosphere and very friendly staff we found ourselves walking out the door and recommending Finz straight away to a group of over 60’s whom were looking for a nice place to eat. They went inside and we walked on being confident of our recommendation for them.
When it came to dessert, both Rory and I were stuffed and resolved to pass. Finz have a unique way of displaying their desserts – there is no menu. They simply have that day’s desserts made up into glasses which they bring to your table on a tray. You choose from there and voilà dessert is served. The sight of the chocolate brownie and custard got the better of me, and I decided to give it a try (and share a bit with Rory too of course). The brownie was great – not quite as good as the ones I make according to Rory – but soft and fresh all the same. I think I would have preferred it to be heated though as I do like hot/warm custard rather than cold. I think it’s the British in me!
As Rory said in his review above, the whole dining experience was wonderful, and we immediately recommended it to people as soon as we walked out of the door, and have continued to recommend it. The food was amazing, the staff friendly and attentive and the location and atmosphere excellent. I will definitely be heading back there for a meal next time we are in Queenstown. We had to take a stroll around the waterfront before heading next door to the Minus 5 Ice Bar though as I literally was bursting at the seams with all the delicious food.