Local Escapes

Lil Red Is The Hidden Spot That’s Just Popped Up In Queenstown For The Winter Season

By Annabel Herbison
21st Jul 2021

Fine Dining at Lile Red Pop Up at QT Queenstown
Dining Space at Lil Red Pop up QT Queenstown
Chef Ryan Henley at QT Queenstown
Fine Dining at Lil Red Pop up at QT Queenstown
Fine Dining at Lile Red Pop Up at QT Queenstown
Dining Space at Lil Red Pop up QT Queenstown
Chef Ryan Henley at QT Queenstown
Fine Dining at Lil Red Pop up at QT Queenstown

Queenstown has a new pop-up on its culinary menu and we’re crossing our fingers (and toes) that this cosy restaurant will extend its stay well past the winter season. Hear that QT? That’s a hint!

Lil Red by QT is an intimate 40-seat restaurant, tucked away on the sixth floor of the quirky, QT Queenstown hotel. Quick disclaimer: This. Is. Not. Your. Average. Hotel. Restaurant. In fact, we’d go as far as to say it’s one of the best new eateries around town. 

At the helm of the kitchen is award-winning Australian chef, Ryan Henley—and believe us when we say, chef Henley will make all your winter dining dreams come true. Blending traditional and Japanese cooking techniques, with quality local ingredients and a no wastage ethos, the menu is extensive and every dish considered.  

Dine à la carte, or choose from one of the two ‘feed me’ options (tip: we 10/10 recommend sitting back, cosying up by the fire and trusting the chef). If you’re going with the former, how about kicking things off with a salty, cheesy, woodfired flatbread? Just make sure you save room for the deliciousness ahead or at least come prepared with loose pants!

Using minimal ingredients, each and every dish is thoughtfully curated with the best (and quite often unexpected) flavour combos that are set to please many a palate. Take the chilled cos lettuce, served with bonito vinegar and palm sugar for example—an unusual pairing, but one of the tastiest tidbits on the menu. Or the dry-aged kingfish (yup, that’s a thing) with brown butter... one word, fantastic. Both, wouldn’t quite be complete without a #necessary glass of local white wine. 

For the main course enjoy the tender barbecued lamb leg, whole flounder or Mt Cook salmon with pickled clams. Or if you’re a meat-lover looking for something special, the melt-in-your-mouth dry-aged Black Origin Wagyu ribeye, served with smoked Wagyu fat is juicy, tender and oh so delicious. Pair it with a side of perfectly crisp potatoes, a ‘cut your own salad’ served with scissors (seriously cool, and also therapeutic) and a big ol’ glass of red, because again #necessary. 

Now’s when the loose pants come in handy...dessert is up next. You can’t go wrong with the QT cheesecake, made to look like an actual wheel of cheese, or the lamington with coconut sorbet and dark chocolate mousse, inspired by the nostalgic tastes of chef Henley’s childhood. Heck, why not order both? Or if you prefer your dessert in liquid form, there are plenty of dessert cocktails to tickle your fancy. 

A touch of fine dining with casual flair (and a super reasonable price tag), Lil Red may be new but it feels like a well oiled, and perfectly seasoned machine. Whether you’re visiting Queenstown this winter, or you’re a lovely local, make Lil Red your next dining destination—you can thank us later.

While you're here, check out some of the best things to do in Queenstown. 

Image credit: QT Queenstown

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