The Grill by Sean Connolly – Revisited

Good restaurants in Auckland is not hard to find. With the amount of choices and the talent that is available, I rarely encounter a restaurant that serves an overall bad meal. Some dishes might have their flaws but this is often compensated with other courses, making the overall dining experience satisfactory/good. However, there is always a first and my second visit to The Grill by Sean Connolly proved just that. 
August is Auckland Restaurant Month where diners can sample dishes from some of the best eateries in the BIG little city. For the whole of August, restaurants in central Auckland offers special set menus and discounts, in attempts to encourage us to eat out and try something new. My friends and I decided to start the month off with dinner at The Grill by Sean Connolly where they offer three courses from a selected menu for $45. Arriving to a busy restaurant at 8:30pm was a promising start as a full dining room often indicates that the food is of a great standard. I have to admit, I did not have very high expectations of the food as our first visit was mediocre. But I was willing to give this place another try.
The roasted pumpkin and upland cress salad dressed with balsamic vinegar was an average start. The dressing was nice and tangy but the roasted pumpkin had a soggy texture and not the crispy caramelised exterior that I was expecting. The warm pulled pork terrine served with a celeriac slaw resembled more like a croquette as it was breadcrumbed and deep fried. Taste-wise, I had no complaints, it was not great but nor was it bad. 
We tried both the mains that was offered on their special menu and this was when it all went downhill. Before I elaborate, I would like to clarify that my thoughts and opinions on the main course was shared amongst the group, and we all came to the same conclusion. The meat itself – both the baby chicken and short rib – was good, the texture was nice, it was cooked well and it retained it’s moisture. However, the seasoning and sauce was less than desirable. The gravy on the chicken was too salty for our taste and the short rib lacked the basic seasoning and was extremely bland. Even the horseradish cream could not save the short rib. Our side of broccolini with olive oil was average but the potato gratin was too savoury and rich. 

We thought that The Grill can redeem themselves via dessert as it rarely goes wrong, but we were sadly mistaken. The treacle tart was tremendously sweet and served with a vanilla custard rather than the yoghurt sorbet, which we had last time. The creme caramel did not have the expected smooth texture and I suspect that it was over cooked and had started to curdle. A disappointing finish. 

We really wanted to enjoy the meal at The Grill but it just does not live up to the hype that surrounds this restaurant. For a fine dining eatery, there are certain expectations and standards but in this case, these were not met and we were very disappointed with our meals. Chances are, I would only come back for their steak tartare and will likely not be having dinner here again. 
Date: Saturday 4th August, 2012
Location: 90 Federal Street, Auckland CBD
Food: NZ Cuisine

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