Hospitality Business Magazine

Lil Red returns to QT Queenstown

Tucked away on the sixth floor of QT Queenstown, Lil Red first graced the hotel in 2021, impressing guests with high quality and innovative cuisine using locally sourced ingredients and a strong no-waste ethos.

On August 11, the 40-seat restaurant will reopen its doors as a permanent fixture set to epitomise fine dining led by Executive Chef Ryan Henley. A relaxed setting with a cosy fireplace and a punchy colour palette by award-winning designer Nic Graham, Lil Red is set to make its mark on the Queenstown culinary scene.

Ryan Henley’s approach embraces local New Zealand ingredients blended with traditional Japanese techniques, creating innovative dishes that respect the integrity of the produce. With a deep-seated passion for responsible sourcing, Chef Ryan diligently seeks out the finest ingredients from local farmers, fisherman, and artisans who share his commitment to the environment.

An abundance of South Island produce and proteins will be showcased on the menu, changing regularly to reflect the seasons. Black Origin Wagyu beef from Christchurch, seafood from Gravity Fishing in Stewart Island, Canterbury Whiteheart Kurobuta pork with eggs, and lamb from Arrowtown’s Royalburn Station. QT Queenstown’s very own rooftop honey from Tiaki Bees’ hives will also be highlighted on the menu. Chef Ryan butchers whole animals in the kitchen to utilise every inch of the animal across his menus, recognising the importance of sustainable practices, and nose-to-tail cooking.

Designed for sharing, signature items on the menu will include small dishes such as creamed paua doughnuts, Black Origin Wagyu beef tostada, and wood-fired flatbread with buffalo cheese, chilli oil and spring onion. Larger share plates include wood-fired whole fish with koji butter and kombu, Royalburn Station lamb with a BBQ celeriac glaze, and aged whole duck glazed with QT rooftop honey, sour pear, Jerusalem artichoke, and sake lees jus. For the sweet finisher, dessert has a fusion twist. There is the nori taco with caramelised rice, raspberry, blood orange, and rice mousse and Chef Ryan’s famous peanut butter sando with local Bay Road peanut butter ice cream, brioche, and caramelised apple feuilletine. To accompany, Lil Red will offer a beverage menu of expertly crafted cocktails and wine list that celebrates some of the best Central Otago drops.

“I’m incredibly excited to make Lil Red a destination on the Queenstown dining scene and showcase the best of the South Island in my own way. I’ve built wonderful relationships with local suppliers, going out on the boat with Nate from Gravity Fishing, to working with Nadia and the team at Royalburn Station on a grow-to-order basis. I’m learning so much about treating ingredients with integrity and celebrating some of the world’s best produce, which will come through in the dishes at Lil Red,” says Chef Ryan.

With over 20 years’ experience in award-winning venues throughout New Zealand and Australia, Melbourne’s three-hatted restaurant Vue de Monde, The George in Christchurch, and Pescatore, Henley is excited to helm an elevated dining experience and showcase his culinary expertise.

Lil Red at QT will officially open its doors from the 11th of August and is now taking bookings.

For more information and to explore menus, visit Lil Red.