Staying up late at Auckland's cutest eatery

By Nici Wickes

Queenies head chef Angus McClean. Photo / Chris Gorman
Queenies head chef Angus McClean. Photo / Chris Gorman

With its paint-by-numbers mural and deer antler chandeliers, the quirky interior of Queenies cafe is surpassed only by the exquisitely original food of Angus McLean (pictured). From tonight, the cute Freemans Bay eatery will open in the evenings for dinner and its chef couldn't be happier.

"We're very excited about this new venture and I am ready to sink my teeth in," says McLean who met Queenies co-owner Allana Owen through a friend when she was looking for a chef to help set up the cafe five years ago.

McLean is from Britain, and has worked at The Providores in London with Peter Gordon and also with Yotam Ottolenghi. He is a rare talent who likes to avoid standard cafe fare in favour of dishes that combine local ingredients with world flavours. "The menu will be small and will change weekly. Think pan-fried Mangawhai sardines with braised chickpeas, saffron aioli, sweet shallots and organic tomatillo salsa, or slow-roast shoulder of spring lamb with anchovies and garlic served with organic mashed new potatoes and minted organic broad beans.

"I get most of my produce from the small Seven Springs farm near Bethells Beach and they supply me with what's in abundance out there. I use as much organic produce as possible as I reckon it tastes so much better. I'm a bit of a health yoga freak and want to know that I'm not feeding myself and others with a cocktail of pesticides and chemicals."

In line with their name, Queenies will also serve a traditional high tea between lunch and dinner on the days they're open in the evenings, and McLean assures us oysters and champagne will take the place of club sandwiches. How very nice, how very Queenies.

* Queenies, 2A Spring St, Freemans Bay. Bookings ph (09) 378 8977.

Open 7 days, Monday to Friday from 7am; Saturday and Sunday from 8am; and Wednesday to Saturday open until 10pm.

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