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There's several New Zealand inspired restaurants throughout San Diego with the newest one being Queenstown Bistro at Westfield UTC Mall. This location is near the food court right next to the music stage plaza. It's a convenient stop for eats before, during or after your shopping. Our media visit was right after Thanksgiving but luckily the holiday frenzy hadn't grown much, at least yet!
The enclosed patio offers open booths, loungy seats and bar height seating for patrons to eat. We were tucked into the corner with a view of the restaurant to one side and the bustle of busy shoppers on the other.
Veggie & Hummus ($12) - cucumber, rainbow carrots, romanesco, naan flat bread
To start off our meal was the hummus platter. This was a plentiful stack of raw vegetables adding a healthy splash of color. The chimichurri added zest to the luscious hummus while the softly toasted naan corralled the remaining hummus out of the bowl. This would be a perfect appetizer for a group to share!
Kale & Salmon Salad ($15) - blackened atlantic salmon, kale, red pepper, jicama house vinaigrette
I felt like eating healthy that day and this protein pumped salad did not disappoint! The lightly seasoned fish was cooked through yet wonderfully moist with a faintly crisped edge. I'm not usually a fan of kale but the lightened dressing really jazzed up the veggies, making me WANT to eat more greens! I seriously need more of that dressing in my life. The side of bread wasn't really needed IMHO.
Blazin Ahi ($14) - panko-crusted seared ahi (rare), cucumber, pickled carrots, wasabi aioli, wasabi peas
Apparently Dennis was in a fish mood too as he ordered his ahi sandwich. I'm always wary of wasabi but his plate turned out to be my FAVORITE item! There was a pleasant hint of wasabi under the bun plus the rare fish tasted delicious with the crunch of cucumbers below and crackle of wasabi peas above. The mini side of chips were lightly salted and reminded me of the Terra Vegetable Chips we recently saw at Costco.
French Toast Bread Pudding - french toast, whipped ricotta, strawberries
Since it was the brunching hour, french toast off the brunch menu sounded grand. The bread pudding arrived last like a dessert per server's recommendation. We were initially confused by the grittier, unsweetened "cream" on top. After the revelation (from menu) that it was whipped ricotta, the texture and taste suddenly made more sense but we still weren't fans. Below the fresh strawberries and whipped layer was the warm, gooey pudding portion. It had some of that cinnamon and yolky egg goodness to it.
Since this brand of restaurants is known for their lamb burger, a second visit was in order. We have also eaten burgers at Dunedin North Park, which is a sister restaurant located in North Park. At UTC mall, holiday shopping season was already underway and the restaurant was busier than two weeks ago. We also noticed a new section added as pictured above!
Bare Lil Lamb ($13) - New Zealand lamb, blue cheese, mint dressing, beetroot, LTO, tomato chutney, garlic aioli
We were immediately salivating as soon as we could smell the burger coming our way. It was beautifully stacked and quite a handful in size! The patty was well seasoned, not too gamey, and it was juicy as could be, soaking into the bottom burger bun. Dennis mentioned juices running down his hands as he ate his half. I especially craved the sweetness of the tomato chutney and slight bite of the beet slices. Thankfully, goat cheese wasn't overpowering because I didn't realize it was there until writing the post. The balance of the burger was perfect.
Hogs & Heifers Burger ($14) - organic grass-fed beef, bacon, avocado, edam cheese, LTO, tomato chutney, garlic aioli
Since we had a Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupon from Burgers and Beer, we decided to go for the beef burger too. This patty was cooked medium well and was juicy throughout though not as flavorful as the lamb patty. The ripe, creamy avocado and softly crisped bacon coaxed us into devour this quickly too! After eating half of the lamb burger, I was already feeling full before engaging into this one! These burgers are FILLING!
Service at Queenstown Bistro was friendly and quick. They offer Saturday and Sunday brunch between 11-2pm plus weekday happy hour between 2-6pm (blogger Faye visited for HH). We look forward to trying more items off the menu in the future!
Disclaimer: We were invited to dine here and our meal was complimentary on our first visit (we paid for the second). We were not otherwise compensated and all opinions stated are our own.
4545 La Jolla Village Dr #9028
San Diego CA 92122