With a prime historic Arrowtown location, fresh seasonal menu, top Central Otago wines, and warm Southern hospitality, the new owners of Postmasters restaurant believe they’ve hit on the perfect recipe for success.
Ex-pat English/Irish couple Sam Laycock and Maria Kealy, together with local restaurateur Ian MacLennan, take over Arrowtown’s historic Postmaster’s Residence this week. Their aim? To knock the socks off locals and visitors with a dining experience that seamlessly blends today’s tastes with a slice of the town’s rich heritage.
Co-owner Sam Laycock says ‘Postmasters’, as it will be called, will bring old and new Arrowtown together in one location.
“Arrowtown’s the perfect example of living history – born of the 1860s goldrush, its fascinating history is everywhere but it’s also evolved into a sophisticated multi-cultural town which appeals to visitors from all over the world.
“The Postmaster’s Residence is a gem of Arrowtown’s history so we’re giving our diners a true local experience by combining the cottage’s old world charm and stunning setting with the best in Central Otago food, wine and hospitality.
"We want people to come and relax, enjoy a drink, a fine meal and good conversation. It’s the kind of place you can bring your girlfriend or your grandmother and have a great time with either.”
The carefully preserved Postmaster’s Residence on Buckingham Street is the former home of the town’s postmasters and has been a main street feature for more than 100 years. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and hanging wisteria, it is one of the town’s most photographed buildings.
Prime views of the historic main street, a cosy interior inspired by early settler days and an outdoor verandah perfect for al fresco dining makes Postmasters a versatile location for individuals, events, and Conference and Incentive groups. It seats 40 inside and 40 outside for lunch or dinner.
Sam Laycock and Head Chef Scott Wyper have created a diverse menu with a strong emphasis on fresh seasonal flavours, top quality local produce, and a nod to international influences.
After working in restaurants, hotels and cafes around the world their experience, tastes and influences are reflected in their dishes.
Scott’s experience ranges from stints at Brown’s and The Ivy (UK) to Queenstown’s Pier 19 and Dux de Lux while Sam has a diverse set of café and restaurant skills from establishments such as the long-running Sombreros Mexican Cantina and multi award-winning Vudu Café in Queenstown.
Both, however, share the same philosophy about food.
“Great produce, done simply and well, is hard to beat. I like to bring three key elements together to create a dish which showcases fresh seasonal flavours and makes people want to come back and order it again,” says Sam.
Menu highlights for starters and lunches include seared venison carpaccio, wild mushroom and truffle pappardelle, venison burger, salads, seafood chowder, or the ultimate in sharing – the Postmasters Platter.
Melt-in-the-mouth mains include braised lamb shank cottage pie, pan fried grouper with prawns and risotto verdi, or Fiordland venison with smoked mash potatoes, honey glazed beetroot, parsnips and port wine jus.
Dishes are perfectly complemented by a stunning wine list, created by co-owner and wine buff Maria Kealy, featuring a range of Central Otago’s best as well as international wines.
For Maria, who works as a consultant at Queenstown’s Wine Tastes store, wine is a true passion.
“I’ve worked in restaurants, vineyards, wineries and wine retail stores around the world but New Zealand, and Central Otago in particular, is a goldmine for wine lovers. The wines are simply outstanding,” she says.
Postmasters opens daily for lunch and dinner between 10am and 11pm. There are plenty of gluten-free and vegetarian options and a dedicated children’s menu. For details and menus go to www.postmasters.co.nz. For reservations call 03 442 0991 or book online.
The Postmasters Residence has a colourful history and is considered one of the gems of Arrowtown’s rich heritage, having been a feature of its main street since the 1860s.
The original house burnt down in 1907 but was replaced with a stunning bay villa which has now been carefully preserved for more than a century.
Located next to Arrowtown’s historic Post and Telegraph Office, the villa was used by Post Office staff until the 1980s, housing the last postmaster until 1982. After being retired from service, the house became a Bed and Breakfast and then an artist's residence before becoming a restaurant.
In 1996 plans to demolish the building and build apartments fired up the Arrowtown community and they convinced the Queenstown Lakes District Council to place a Heritage Protection Order on the building.
In 1997, this order was removed and the community again responded by raising funds to purchase the building.
Before being on-sold to a developer, various convenants were agreed to - including the protection of the gardens - to ensure the Postmasters Residence and Post Office would remain historic town features.