Since their opening in 2004, The Grove has had it’s fair share of talented chefs (such as Michael Meredith and Sid Sahrawat) and it’s current head chef – Benjamin Bayly – who joined in 2010, is responsible for the multiple awards earned by The Grove including the 2012 Cuisine Best Metropolitan Restaurant. The first time I dined at the Grove, my friend and I sampled from their a la carte menu and this was back in 2010 and about a year ago, a group of us tried their dessert degustation. On both occasions, the food – especially their desserts – were phenomenal, the presentation of the dishes were immaculate, and the overall dining experience was very enjoyable. So of course, when I found out that The Grove was participating in the Auckland Restaurant Month, I made a booking without any hesitation.
Their offer for the Restaurant Month is a five course seafood degustation for $80 per person and I have to say – it is by far, one of the best degustation I have tried. For the first course, we were served an alpine salmon confit with an oyster bavarian cream, crispy rye cracker and salmon roe. This dish came extremely quick as we were only half way through the amazing bread when it arrived to our table. The combination of the warm salmon with the pungent oyster bavarois was surprisingly good and the rye cracker added a different texture to the dish.
The second course consists of grilled Aji which is a type of mackerel with pieces of broccoli florets and shitake mushrooms. There are four different flavour components which all worked well together. The horseradish sorbet added a subtle kick to the dish while the cucumber sorbet was refreshing and light. The avocado puree and béarnaise sauce kept the vegetables moist and none of the flavours overpowered the fish. It was a delightful dish.
The third course was a seared snapper with a crayfish and prawn dumpling with white asparagus, julienned fennel and potato puree. Before this dish arrived, I was rather sceptical because I have never been a fan of eating snapper at a restaurant because it has a tendency to be dry. Yet in this case, the fish was succulent and moist and had an unexpectedly soft flaky texture. The dumpling was slightly salty for my liking but I really enjoyed the potato puree which was rich and buttery.
The pre-dessert is our fourth course and it is made up of buffalo yoghurt, homemade custard, pink grapefruit sorbet and pieces of freeze-dried apples and grapes which was beautifully presented in a small glass. This was my favourite course out of the five because the flavours were clean and they worked so well together! When eaten alone, the grapefruit sorbet is overly tart, but when combined with the creamy custard and the sweeten yoghurt, it compliments one another and was utterly divine.
The last course was a lovely and rich chocolate dessert where the Valrhona chocolate parfait took centre stage. Delicious layers of chocolate sponge, mousse, and cream – coated with a layer of chocolate. I especially liked how they incorporated crispy cereal-like components in the sponge layer, giving it a nice crunchy texture. This was served with a warm chocolate madeleine, chocolate ice cream, chocolate mousse, pineapple sorbet, and small pieces of fresh pineapple. This was the perfect way to end our meal!
Since 2010, I have been to The Grove three times and I have to praise them for their consistency. Every dish is a work of art where it is not only beautiful to look at, but a delight to devour. In my opinion, The Grove is one of the best fine dining restaurants in Auckland. Without a doubt, I will be back next year!
Date: Saturday 25th August, 2012 | Location: St Patricks Square, Auckland CBD | Food: Contemporary Fine Dining