My overall rating: 3.5/5
I got to experience the delicious new Winter Menu at Aria Restaurant & Bar at The Crowne Plaza Auckland. Having met the marketing manager, Frank and the intern, Dafne, at the Zomato Summit earlier this year, it was so lovely to hear from them again. At the dinner I was joined by two other food bloggers, Genie from Bunny Eats Design and Rebecca from Olives & Figs. Dafne also joined us and I was very excited to see her again. We started off with wine and chit chat getting to know one another before taking a seat and exploring Aria Restaurant and Bar’s new Winter menu.
We decided to get four entrees between us and share them. Dafne asked the chef which he would select to best showcase the restaurants offerings as we were far too indecisive.
The Smoked Salmon entree had to be favourite. Listed on the menu as Hot Smoked Akaroa Salmon, Cauliflower Pana Cotta, Roasted Beets, Parsley Oil and Fresh Horseradish, this was my favourite entree of the lot. The cauliflower was more like a delicious creamy puree and paired perfectly with the soft salmon. I also loved the element of dehydrated cauliflower chards which made the dish very unique.
I then dug into the Fresh 1/2 Shell Rock Oysters Battered in Tempera with Wakame and Miso Aioli. I was slightly hesitant about whether or not these would appeal to me as I’m a big fan of fresh oysters and hadn’t tried them battered before. I thought they were interesting – despite being deep fried they still had a freshness about them. The aioli along with a squeeze of lemon made for a perfect addition.
Following that, the Mushroom Salad entree. This particular dish was delicious and would have been great for the mushroom lovers out there. Although, it wasn’t my favourite, I enjoyed it.
Finally, I finished off with the Seared Scallops entree. This comprised of Pan Seared Scallops, Braised Lentils, Cherry Tomatoes and Red Chilli. This recipe was created by the IHG culinary panel chef Theo Radall. It was delicious nd fresh yet the braised lentils gave it a more winter appropriation which was super yummy!
For mains we each chose our own dish. Although tempted by the menu items nothing stood out to me as a showcasing main. I instead chose from their Grill selection. In this selection you have the opportunity to choose how your meal is created. First you select one of six different meats/cuts. I couldn’t resist the Canterbury Lamb Rump. You then select an accompanying sauce along with two sides. I went with the red wine jus to accompany the lamb rump (although I had no idea if it would pair nicely) plus chunky fries with aioli and baby spinach with raspberry vinaigrette.
When it comes to dessert, I’m not overly fussed on ordering anything indulgent and sweet – I much more prefer the savoury choices and on occasion will get chocolate. In this particular instance, I went with the cheese platter – something I had eyed up on the menu before I had even visited the restaurant. From the menu, you could choose two cheeses which were paired with grapes, fig paste, crushed walnuts and water crackers. This sounded like perfection to me. I chose the Kapiti Kikorangi Blue and the Kapiti Aorangi Brie. The accompaniments varied slightly from what was on the menu and instead included red grapes, dried figs, sliced apple, pistachios, rice crackers and water crackers. I was somewhat disappointed however I still really enjoyed the platter. I didn’t eat any of the rice crackers and thought this was an odd addition to a cheese platter.