If there’s one place in New Zealand that sets our hearts a-flutter, it’s Queenstown. Just a two-hour flight from Auckland, it’s an area that Instagram dreams are made of. And so, when The Urban List was invited to experience its latest dining sensation, The Grille, we leapt at the chance.
So, last week, after a mildly bumpy flight, I landed in the picturesque town and, later that afternoon was given a tour that included chocolate making, cocktail making and dinner at The Grille. I know, it’s hard life, but someone’s gotta do it.
But let’s start at the beginning. The Grille is Queenstown’s newest restaurant and is part of the Eichardt family that includes Eichardt’s luxury accommodation, The Spire and the popular Eichardt's Bar and No. 5 Church Lane.
They’re also set to add to their offerings with the opening of the country’s most expensive hotel. The Penthouse comes with a whopping $10,000-a-night price tag and includes a personal butler, chef, spectacular views overlooking the lake and the kind of opulence the rich and famous would be happy with—at least I’m guessing they would be.
Beneath this is The Grille. It is a vast space, with natural tones with timber panels, mirrors, antique wall lights and exposed steel and timber. It is the work of architect Michael Wyatt and the result is both relaxing yet classy.
To the left is a cocktail bar with a communal table that can open in the middle to reveal an ice well. Fill it with champagne and oysters and you’ll have pretty much found nirvana. Or, pop your tush on a stool to see the kitchen wizards do their thing.
Further into the restaurant, there’s a table with large-backed chairs so if you’re a celeb (or wanna be) you can dine in relative seclusion. This moves into a series of booths that are private but also part of the action. If you need something a little more private, there’s a room that is sectioned off by wine walls—literally.
And then (our pick) there’s tables at the front of the restaurant that look out onto the lake. It’s like a giant photograph—and, come summer—the floor-to-ceiling doors will open so it will literally feel like you’re sitting on the water.
It’s worth mentioning that if you happen to be staying at the accommodation above, you have your own entry to The Grille via elevator. That would be your own, private elevator that no one else is allowed to use. You fancy thing, you.
With the environment so perfect, it’s time to talk about the food. At the helm is Executive Chef Will Eaglesfield. This tall and funny gent displays none of the histrionics that chefs are famous for and fills us a variety of food from the menu that is both beautiful to look at and mouth-wateringly delicious. So delicious in fact, that a week later I was still dreaming of it.
The Grille is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but I’m here to try the latter.
Entrées are delicate delights. Their legendary seafood chowder was a bowl of delicious warmth and the West Coast whitebait melted in my mouth. Chef Will also encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone by trying the Little Rabbit hotpot—great for dipping chunks of bread into—and the venison liver & pinot noir pâté. While others at the table loved the latter, I couldn’t get past images of Bambi.
Onto the mains, the key stand out was the tomahawk steak. I’d seen it being char-grilled earlier and it didn’t disappoint. This is a whopping piece of meat—one to one-and-a-half kilos of 90-day grain-fed Angus. This sizzling beauty was quite possibly the best I’ve ever had. I also tried the crayfish meatballs (delicious) and the sautéed sole that was drool-worthy with its melted brown butter, cauliflower and home-grown rainbow beets.
With delicious cocktails and vintage Moet to sip it all down with, you can believe that The Grille will quickly become one of New Zealand’s go-to destination restaurants for people who love a delicious meal in one of the most beautiful venues in the country. The Grille, you sure are a winner!
Check out more deets on The Grille, including opening hours here.