Queenstown fine dining spot goes humble

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A Queenstown fine dining spot is closing to re-emerge with a more casual flavour.
 
After serving final customers on Saturday, Steamer Wharf’s Wai Restaurant re-opens early November with a new name and menu of “humble, handcrafted comfort food”. 

Wai has won many awards since opening 12 years ago, but co-owner Alex Boyes says attitudes to food have changed: “These days it’s more about sitting around and having a social, integrated dining experience, where the food speaks for itself.” 

Plans include expanding the bar for pre-dinner and after-work drinks and nibbles. 

Executive chef and co-owner Martin James, who’ll continue alongside head chef Stephen Clayton, says they’re excited at returning to a grass-roots style of cooking. 

Co-partner Jan Rae says Wai’s closure isn’t due to competition from celebrity chef eateries Rata and Jervois Steak House: “I like the idea they’re in town, making it more of a dining scene. The biggest change was euros and English pounds not coming through.”