New Zealand Special – Queenstown’s Hidden Delights

Welcome to Excuse Me Waiter, a new food blog run by two ambitious Gen-Y university students living in Sydney! I’m DK and my food partner in crime is Yvn. We’ve decided to create this blog as a way of sharing our opinions and food experiences in Sydney and other places we visit. We wanted to do something fun in our lives (besides study finance) and we’re very excited to share with you our food adventures as we explore the streets of Sydney, searching for the best hidden gems whilst eating on a student budget (with the occasional splurge now and then).

We’re going to kickstart the blog with an international special featuring the culinary delights of Queenstown, New Zealand.

A couple of weeks back, Yvn and I went on a ski trip to New Zealand and I must admit, I was at first sceptical of the food it would bring. When visiting small towns, I imagine the rural outback areas of Australia with few restaurants and limited choices.

Can I just say, I was extremely wrong. Queenstown is a massive tourist destination surrounded by mountains with a lake in the middle and restaurants are built around this with some capturing the breathtaking view. From the few restaurants we visited whilst there, I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of food and cannot wait to return! Here are a couple of the highlights from our trip…

Fergburger, Queenstown

“You HAVE to try this place, they have the BEST burgers in the world!” exclaims Yvn as she recalls her previous trip to Queenstown.

And so the first supper of the trip was decided.

Sitting in the middle of Queenstown Town Centre is a blue-neon light saying “Fergburger” with the words “IN FERG WE TRUST SINCE 2000” embellished underneath. Fergburger is a small burger joint constantly bustling with customers at all times of the day and if its popularity is anything to go by, we were definitely in for a treat.

As we push through the crowd to walk in, you can feel the pressure of service as the girl at the register takes order after order whilst wait staff yell out numbers and other staff offer service to the seated patrons. The restaurant is small and compact with homely decorations and pictures of tourist activities defining Queenstown. There weren’t many seats and my friends eyed each table, eventually managing to snap one up outside next to the heater.

Upon ordering, we notice they had quite an eclectic range of burgers. In addition to your average beef burgers, they also serve chicken, lamb, deer, steak, cod, pork belly, chicken tenderloins, tofu and falafel as features of their burgers. I think a little bit of me died and went to heaven as I read the menu, wishing I could live here and eat a different burger everyday until I tried everything.

“Chief Wiggum” – Slow roasted pork belly, lettuce, tomato, red onion, hash brown, with aioli and apricot seeded mustard – NZD$14.50

This burger caught my eye immediately. It had everything you could want and delivered just that. The pork belly is crispy and juicy, the mustard packed a punch with slight layers of sweet apricot and with the crunch and fluffy texture of a hash brown, the burger is complete. It is the Chief Wiggum, obviously named after the infamous piggish Simpson’s character. This burger, although quite unhealthy, is amazing – succulent, juicy and crunchy all at the same time. But hey, you only live once right?

“Little Lamby” – Prime New Zealand lamb, mint jelly, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli and tomato relish – NZD$11.50

Yvn goes for the Little Lamby. It’s a cute name for one of Fergburger’s more standard burgers – it’s nothing adventurous in the sense that it merely substitutes a traditional beef patty with NZ lamb but she tells me the relish and aioli which coats the patty itself is what sets this burger apart from any other burger that she’s tasted either in Australia or anywhere else in the world. After the first bite of the burger, the memories of the perfect hit of garlicky mayo and tomato paste mixed together from Yvn’s last trip to NZ flood back and while the lamb patty itself is tender but nothing too special, together with the sauces it tastes like pure heaven for a few moments before your tastebuds accustom themselves to the intense flavour.

Although it gets a bit messy eating the burger, (it is quite large and tall due to layers of lettuce, tomato, patty and of course, the two soft pieces of bun holding it all together), but it’s definitely worth the indignity of sauce dripping everywhere to experience the self claimed best burgers in the world.

[no picture unfortunately – apologies!]

“Sweet Bambi”, Wild Fiordland Deer with a Thai plum chutney, lettuce, tomato, red onion and aioli – NZD$12

My friend orders the Sweet Bambi which I took a bite of. The deer is very tender and quite similar to kangaroo in texture. Although never having eaten deer before, it’s actually not too bad and definitely something I will try again. Just don’t picture the cute Disney Bambi when eating this.

We also order a side of fries and crumbed calamari with wasabi mayonnaise. The chips and calamari are standard with the wasabi mayonnaise lacking wasabi flavour in my opinion.

If you come here, skip the sides and go straight to the burgers. There’s a great selection for adults, children, meat-lovers and vegetarians. There’s a slight wait of up to 20 minutes which can seem quite excessive for a fast food joint but they can’t help it given the volume of orders they get. But believe me, the wait makes it all the more worthwhile when you eat that Fergburger.

42 Shotover Street
Queenstown Town Centre, New Zealand
Open daily 9am – 5am
Ph: +64 3-441 1232

Fergburger on Urbanspoon

Searle Lane & Social, Queenstown

One night we accidentally stumbled across a bunch of hidden laneways and in them, boutique like restaurants reminiscent of Paddington or The Rocks. Searle Lane & Social stood out with their bold sign and branding and we made a note to return later in the week for their lunch special.

The entrance consists of the bar and invites you in with its large open floor plan. The design is quirky, youthful with a chilled-out vibe and mainstream top 40 music blasting away. The restaurant is towards the back and we get seated in the corner (not in the booths unfortunately) but notice vines/shrubs and lamps decorating the ceiling – interesting decor!

A $10 lunch menu is served daily from 12pm – 3pm and we opt for this.

Prawn Risotto with Chilli, Tomato & Red Onion finished with Shaved Parmesan – $10

This has got to be one of the best flavour combinations for a risotto I have ever tasted – the mix of chilli, tomato and onions together were divine. Although the risotto itself was a bit hard and not as cooked through as I would have preferred, the flavours were an excellent balance with a bit of spice. And for $10, it seemed quite good value given the amount of prawns we got!

Minute Steak Sandwich with Caramalised Onion, Tomato, Chunky Fries and a Bernaise Sauce – $10

When we receive the bill, it is dished up in a Thomas The Tank Engine book, which when opened reveals a drink menu. This restaurant is extremely good value with a great atmosphere. It might take a while to find hidden in the alleyways but when found, is definitely worth it!

Searle Lane & Social
15 Church Street, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand
Ph: +64 3 441 3934

Searle lane on Urbanspoon


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.