Fine din­ing de­liv­ers mem­o­rable night

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS -

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.

At­mos­phere:

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.

Ser­vice:

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.

Food:

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.

Ver­dict:

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.

Photo: SUE FEA

South­ern set­ting: The Rees Ho­tel in Queen­stown.

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