“ Address: 1 Earl St / Queenstown / Queenstown Lakes District / Tel: 03-441 1411 „
On my rainy birthday, we sought refuge for lunch in a cafe, and I had seen this place recommended in Lonely Planet. Located at the edge of town, it was a bit of a walk from our lodgings, but hopefully, it was worth it.
Although quite functional in looks, with metal legged hard wooden chairs and sparse wooden tables, with a split dark laminate wooden and stone floor, Halo actually feels like quite a cosy place. There is a lot of light thanks to full length windows on 3 sides, overlooking the neighbouring churchyard that must have inspired the name and street, so the only wall was behind the counter. When we went at midday on a Tuesday, it was very full, with room for about 40 people, although this felt cosy rather than cramped. It was very much a family place, with young families and babies welcome. We managed to bag the last empty table at the time.
To the left of the entrance is the service counter, with a large whiteboard in front of it with the soup and specials of the days written on with black marker pen. Some magazines to read were on some shelves to the left of this. A big coffee machine sat in the centre, and a large cake display case to the right.
A water fountain which wouldn't look out of place in a church added a nice touch in the left hand corner near to the entrance to the toilets, which were down a side corridor. A small crucifix hung about it. As it was November, a Christmas tree sat in one of the window corners. Behind the counter were some shelves holding glasses, spirit bottles and wine bottles. Some wooden slatted tables and chairs were outside, but as it was pouring with rain that day no-one was using them. Inside the tables seated 4-6 people, mostly tables for 4. Easy listening music played in the background added to the relaxed ambience.
The menu was split between burgers of various kinds, breakfast treats such as a full breakfast and breakfast burrito. The specials were Thai beef salad with sesame seeds and coriander dressing and salmon with cauliflower mash and garlic and parmesan grilled asparagus, which sounded very promising, and when we saw someone order it, it looked just as promising. I was also tempted by the Moroccan lamb and Jamaican jerk chicken burgers.
A bottle of tap water was on the table, as is the norm over there.
To drink, I ordered a café latte, which was pretty nice, served in a large cup and saucer with a heart shaped swirl of froth on top. Ms Larsbaby had a chai latte which was about medium spicy compared to the New Zealand norm, and thus was pretty tasty. Served in a tall latter glass on a saucer, it was topped with a thick milky head and a thick sprinkle of cinnamon.
Burgers seemed a popular choice all round, and we both ordered a Kiwi Burger to eat. No, that wasn't a bird, but 100% New Zealand beef on a white bun topped with lettuce, cheese, tomato a slightly runny fried egg and slices of beetroot. I gather the latter gives it its name. And what a delicious combo it was. The burger was lean and thick, the whole thing being so thick it had to be sliced in half and eaten with a knife and fork. I really liked the combination of flavours. The melted cheese added softness, the beetroot and lettuce crunch. We both felt very full after eating our burgers. The decent portion of big chunky chips on the side were light and not greasy at all; crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
The waitresses all donned t-shirts with angels on them which was quite amusing. They seemed pretty helpful and friendly, although they way we received our bill was odd. We ordered a second latte each as the place started to empty. Then one waitress, unprompted, brought the bill to our table. Having conferred with some friends living in New Zealand, this would appear to be an unusual event, having never happened to them. Was this some sort of insult? We have no way of knowing, but what I do know is if that happens in the UK I find it a bit rude. My friend who lives out there says this has never happened to him and he also found it odd. Seeing as the place wasn't full and that we'd ordered more things, they should really have waited until we asked for the bill. Maybe they thought we wouldn't order anything else, but you'd have thought they'd ask if we wanted dessert. I guess this spoilt it a bit for us, but otherwise the service was excellent.
The popular spot proved an excellent choice for food, notwithstanding the strange circumstances surrounding our bill. Hopefully they will read this review and ensue that it doesn't happen again to the next tourist visitors. It's worth going to find out anyway, but they lose a star purely for that.
6a Earl St