Queenstown. Like any other hub that sells itself mainly as a tourist mecca, it's not easy for casual blow-ins to stumble across eateries that are reasonably priced while also offering half-decent food. Not for a lack of places where one can change money for a meal of course, but more a scarcity of the subset of these venues where the squirelling of one's hard earned cash into a till isn't the sole objective for their existence. A myriad of retrofitted pubs, trendy cafes, Neon-flashy burger joints and overpriced restaurants jostle for prime positions and the beer-blurred attention of the après ski crowd along the the centre of Queenstown. On our first evening there however, it was too early to be blurred against crass distractions and so we were determined to find a nice place for dinner that wouldn't blow our ski-pass budget for the trip.
Indian restaurants tend to dominate the ethnic food scene in locales where the weather can get miserably cold, and Queenstown was no different. We must have walked past half a dozen subcontinental eateries within two or so blocks, which pretty much biased Indian as the choice for dinner. We chose a little place aspiringly called the Bombay Palace. Menus quickly browsed over tall glasses of Sweet Mango Lassi, we settled on trusty standards including a spicy Saag Gosht (lamb and spinach curry), a creamy Butter Chicken, and a to-die-for Potato and Chickpea Curry Masala, accompanied by steamed rice and two variations of naan. We'd discovered a gem. The curries presented in little quirky copper-coloured pails looked and tasted great! The Plain Naan offered perfect shreds to soak up the heady curry flavours but the Butter Naan we also ordered was delicious all on its own, extra crispy with a rich coating of aromatic butter. Our meal for three, along with a couple of beers totalled NZ$65.85, which was fair value in Queenstown.
Bombay Palace Indian Restaurant & Takeaways, 66 Shotover St, Queenstown, NZ (Spot Score: 17/20)
As contrast, a meal on another evening consisting of an unremarkable steak, two mains of fish of the day (monkfish) and a bowl of kumara (sweet potato) fries that we had at a popular example of an aforementioned retrofitted pub did NZ$102 worth of damage. And that was with a free round of drinks that was used to tempt us in from the street! I was told the monkfish were quite nicely done. Too bad I'd chosen the steak!
Chico's Restaurant & Bar, The Mall, Queenstown, NZ (Spot Score: 15/20)
A fashionably outfitted snowbunny, Queenstown New Zealand style!