My husband and I had hoped to have dinner at Pepper Tree, but there was a function on and so we tried Umu for dinner instead. The meals we had were the most disappointing that we have had in a long time, and while our expectations of food quality were not too high for such a small town, the prices they charged were almost comical. Each main meal was ~$30, and I had salmon which although it was cooked well enough, was absolutely drowning in an overpowering sickly-sweet sauce that I had to scrape to the side. This was paired with mushy vegetables and a bit of white rice with chopped onion strewn through it. My husband had the gurnard, which was similarly drowning in a different sauce, and also was accompanied by the same limp vegetables and bland rice. We both felt as if the meals were prepared by someone who had very little experience with cooking. The flavours didn't work together, and we both felt like we could have made something vastly superior at home. We returned to Auckland a few days later and had a mouthwateringly delicious meal at a local restaurant for the same price, and this experience served to emphasize the disparity in quality between the restaurants. We understand that retaining good chefs in small towns is probably difficult, but believe that prices should be adjusted accordingly. The kitchen staff seemed to consist primarily of teenagers.
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