Fine dining delivers memorable night
There’s something about fine restaurant dining. You feel pampered before a morsel even arrives in front of you. The Rees Hotel’s True South Dining Room is no exception and multi-award-winning executive chef Ben Batterbury and his team delivered a superb dining experience. The ambience and service combined with the immaculately-presented food to deliver a complete package.
The atmosphere was classy. Dimly-lit and intimate, the halflowered earth-toned blinds and roaring fire in the stacked-stone fireplace made for a cosy feel. From our table overlooking the lake, we had a mountain view. Velvet-embossed wallpaper, leather seats and high-backed chairs were all touches of class. A partial view of the kitchen revealed a busy Batterbury and his team preparing masterpieces.
Our two female waiters were regularly at hand keeping a keen eye on our needs and swooping by at just the right time. Both knew the preparation details of each dish and every endeavour was made to ensure special dietary requirements at our table were met. We were each presented with a huge freshly-shucked complimentary Bluff oyster served with fresh lime. Staff responded quickly to gluten-free requirements and delivered a slice of freshly-toasted gluten-free bread, also on the house.
My daughter and I opted for the barbecued monkfish, oyster, Coppers folly wasabi, soy beetroot, rice cake and dashi starters ($22 each). We felt like MasterChef judges as each immaculately presented dish appeared in front of us. They were almost too beautiful to eat but the effort that had gone into the presentation only made us savour every mouthful that much more. Our mains of Cardrona merino lamb with Moroccan spices, falafel, cauliflower set on a light smear of black olive paste ($39) were meltin-the-mouth delicious. As is the present trend, three different cuts of lamb had been incorporated into this dish with great skill and flair. The topside section, cooked medium rare, the shoulder slow-cooked for eight hours then wrapped in a tiny parcel and the short rib all came together in a work of art. Serving sizes seemed small but that is totally to be expected in a restaurant of this class. Artichoke ‘‘tiramisu’’ blueberries, lavender and salted pecan nuts and milk chocolate and cream cheese mousse ($16 each) caught our eye on the dessert menu but we both felt too full to delve into dessert.
True South Dining Room may be tucked away as you enter Queenstown but it is a delightful gem worth any effort to find. Now renowned, its many accolades are clearly well deserved.
Southern setting: The Rees Hotel in Queenstown.