Degustation: Wine Chambers

Wine Chambers is a fine dining restaurant that serves Mediterranean-influenced cuisine and is located on Shortland Street within Auckland CBD. I’ve heard good and bad things about this restaurant from my friends and hence I’ve been reluctant to give this place a try as I despise disappointing meals. So, I was rather pleased when I managed to get the two for one degustation voucher on grabone, knowing that even if the meal was not up to standard, it would not make a big dent in my wallet. Although I personally prefer ordering from the a la carte menu as I get more control of my dining experience, degustation has its benefits as it involves sampling smaller portions of the chef’s signature dishes and should be a good representation of the food that the restaurant has to offer.

Before I start reviewing the food, it is important to note that the degustation meal offered from grabone is the same as the current menu from Wine Chambers and therefore, not a special/cheaper verison.

As I explained in a recent entry, an amuse bouche is a complimentary bite size hors d’oeuvre that restaurants offer to patrons with the purpose of showing a glimpse of the chef’s cooking skills and in this occasion, we were offered a chilled melon ‘soup’ with chives. Honesty, if this was suppose to highlight the chef’s skills, I must say that I could probably cook better than the chef. Firstly, I’m not a fan of cold soup and hence my judgement can be viewed as biased. Secondly, the consistency of the liquid was more like juice than soup. Thirdly, it actually tasted like melon juice but with sprigs of chives and lastly, the presentation was poor. It’s like the chef couldn’t be bothered and just gave us what was leftover in the kitchen. It was a horrible start to our meal.

The first course of the degustation is a liquorice smoked salmon served with an avocado puree, radish and a slice of orange. I’m not too fond of liquorice and this is also the reason why I rarely have degustation as I can’t chose what I want to eat. However, I was glad that the salmon tasted nothing like  liquorice and the fish was moist and tender. I particularly enjoyed the combination of the avocado and the salmon.

The second course is a free range pork belly served with beetroot, peas and an apple puree. The pork belly was rather tough and slightly dry making it fairly difficult to chew and the apple puree was too sweet which overpowered the flavour of the pork.

The third course is a mixed berry sorbet which acts as a palate cleanser by removing any lingering flavours in your mouth and preparing it for the next course. The presentation for this course was adorable and the sorbet was fresh, slightly tart and not overly sweet.

The fourth course is a pistachio crusted lamb rump served with crumbled truffled potatoes, aubergine and romesco sauce. The crumbled truffled potatoes was the best part of this dish. It had a crispy texture on the outside while the inside remained soft and fluffy and most importantly, it was well seasoned and had a strong truffle taste. The other components on the dish including the lamb rump was average. The meat was chewy and the sauce was too savoury for my liking.

Belgium chocolate mousse was the last course of the meal and was somewhat mediocre. The texture of the mousse was rather dense and the brandy snaps lacked a desired brittleness.

I can’t say that I enjoyed the meal at Wine Chambers. There were good and bad aspects in terms of food, but sadly, the bad outweigh the good. Other areas however, was of good standards. The restaurant setting and decor is pleasant and sophisticated and the waitstaff were friendly and helpful. I can’t rule Wine Chambers out completely as I have yet to try the dishes from the a la carte but I doubt I would be dining here again anytime soon.

Date: Saturday 12th November, 2011 | Location: 33 Shortland Street, Auckland CBD | Food: Contemporary Fine Dining 

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