Once upon a time hotel food was notable mainly for its blandness but these days hotel restaurants serve up delicious innovative dishes that skilfully blend local and international ingredients and influences.
We’ve put together a guide to some of New Zealand’s best hotel restaurants, so you know where to go for some truly five star food.
If you’re looking for a room with a view, look no further than Vue Restaurant on the top floor of the Mercure Hotel in Customs Street. Fortunately Vue has a spectacular menu to match its harbour views. It takes its cues from classical European cooking and uses top quality New Zealand ingredients. Sample items from the dinner menu include roasted Canterbury Merino lamb with caponata, red quinoa and romesco sauce; crispy skinned Akaroa salmon with tiger prawn potato cake, plus the intriguingly named “Kitchen Embrace”, a surprise dish chosen by the chef at each sitting.
Prices: Mains priced from $333 to $38
Located in the hotel’s spacious light filled atrium, Hector’s Restaurant offers a menu of fresh, healthy Pacific Rim style cuisine. Hector’s caters to all tastes, but it’s a particularly good option for vegans, vegetarians and “ethical eaters”. All of their ingredients are locally sourced and much of the meat and produce is free range and organic. Signature dishes include macadamia and herb roasted eggplant filo, grilled vegetable and vegan mozzarella pizza and “Savannah” angus scotch fillet.
Prices: Mains priced from $22 to $37
As its name suggests, dining at Kabuki is a theatrical experience. Watch the show as Kabuki’s artful teppanyaki chefs cook and prepare your meal before your very eyes! The teppan style of food at Kabuki is a harmonious marriage of quality domestic produce with the elegance of Japanese cooking. Kabuki has a range of different menus and is great venue for groups. There are a multitude of set menus available for dinner and you can even mix and match menu items.
Prices: Various. Dinner set menus priced from $47 to $100
With its waterfront location, panoramic views and menu showcasing the very best New Zealand seafood and produce, Fish Restaurant is the perfect spot to mark a special occasion. The seared yellow fin tuna with a miso ginger glaze and tempura scampi roll is a real highlight of the dinner menu. Check out their full menu.
Prices: Mains priced from $29 to $65
In a city well known for the quality of its restaurants, Maginnity’s stands out. Chef Marc Soper’s winter menu will tempt your tastebuds with its clever combinations of subtle and bold, distinctive flavours. Sample mains from Marc’s dinner menu include lavender scented roast pumpkin and feta srudel and Pirinoa Station lamb rump with pea crème, gratin potatoes and baby vegetables
One of the more unusual menu items is “wild rabbits winter leap into spring”. It consists of braised leg and wrapped loin of rabbit in parsley farce with baby vegetables, with olive grape and hazelnut salsa. This dish comes with a bottle of Monteiths apple cider.
Prices: Mains priced from $28 to $37
Artisan Restaurant has received a number of high profile awards including Cuisine Restaurant of the Year 2010 and the New Zealand Beef & Lamb Excellence Award 2011. Artisan lives up to its name with a menu of artful and inspired creations. Try something from the grill. Wild razorback pork or some prime eye fillet, perhaps? There’s also the chef’s unique take on traditional comfort food; meatloaf, veges and peppercorn sauce or Beef Wellington with Bearnaise sauce.
Mains: prices from $26 to $32
Hippopotamus, on the third floor of the Museum Hotel, is a venue of real opulence and sophistication. The black walls, the colourfully upholstered French armchairs, crystal chandelier and the elegant menu hit all the right notes. The carefully crafted menu is as good an example of French cuisine as you’ll find anywhere in the capital.
Prices: Mains priced from $38 to $48
Pescatore at The George takes a modern, minimalist approach to fine dining. There are three exciting menus, including two tasting menus to choose from. Each of these use top quality ingredients such as salmon, Canterbury lamb and Fiordland venison in unusual and innovative ways. Sample dishes include tea smoked Akaroa salmon with mandarin puree, black olive and seaweed crisp or poached oyster with mussel and miso custard. Partner these mouth watering options with a glass from Pescatore’s extensive wine list, and you’ve got a very special dinner indeed.
Prices: Decisions Menu mains priced at $41.50, Middle Menu $105 per person ($155 with wine match), Evolutions Menu $125 per person ($200 with matching wines).
Editorial by Nicholas Chidley
2 August 2012