This hotel restaurant is small and is aimed at those looking for a fine dining experience. If you’re fortunate enough to have a table near the windows the view of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables is picture-postcard stuff. Bookings are encouraged. Whilst most guests were dressed smartly, in keeping with many restaurants in New Zealand which we visited, there is no dress code as such.
On the night we visited, whilst staying at the hotel, it was a full house but by coincidence we got the exact same table as we’d had on our previous visit some years before - it had a view and was near the fire so we scored on both counts!
From table settings, to food presentation and service everything is geared up to make a good impression.
The menu features between six to eight choices for each course - most of which could be described as having a “different twist“ with the use of less obvious ingredients many of which are apparently sourced in the region. Our waitress was able to answer some questions we had about the menu without referring to the chef. The wine list is large and focuses entirely on New Zealand and French wines. We opted for a bottle of Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc.
We were given an Amuse Bouche whilst we waited which was tasty - I managed to get extra since my wife isn’t a fan of salmon which was one of the items featured.
For starters I had Scallops with crispy pig’s head, pumkin miso puree, pickled turnips & nam jim dressing and my wife had soup - pea & mint gazpacho with lemon, ricotta and pine nuts. I was familiar with the scallops (which were the smallest I’ve seen) but had no experience of the other ingredients however these went down well enough. The soup, a definite pea-green colour was apparently enjoyable too.
For mains we both choose Merino lamb served with Toulouse sausage, salt baked beet, olive caramel and salsa verde. The lamb portion was fairly small and neither of us found that we enjoyed the other ingredients to any great extent - the Toulouse sausage in particular was very strongly flavoured and I couldn‘t even finish the portion. A bit disappointing overall.
After a palate cleanser, for dessert I had the Pinot poached pear with hot chocolate dumplings, candied orange and spice ice cream and my wife had Caramel banana, granola, yoghurt, poached fruits and gingerbread ice cream. The chocolate dumplings apart (too dry) we both enjoyed these dishes.
Having finished our wine, to round off the evening my wife had a glass of Misha’s Starlet Sauv Blanc whilst I had a glass of Valli Dolce Vita Riesling dessert wine.
It’s a gamble of sorts trying new dishes (for us) however we understand that the chef , Ben Batterbury, a fellow Brit, was here on our previous visit to the hotel some years ago when we had thoroughly enjoyed every course. This time around we didn’t come away with the same feeling although the dining experience overall was pleasant. Our food bill came to $149/£77, the drinks $80/£41.
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