Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Aria - Winter Menu

I find it incredibly exciting to be among the first to discover something new. It is even more exciting when the discovery is yummy food. And because I'm not very good at keeping secrets, I want to share with you the new winter menu at Aria Restaurant and Bar.

Located in the Crowne Plaza on Albert St, Aria Bar and Restaurant is a fancy hotel restaurant that has kept a cozy, intimate feel. The space caters for large groups as well as date nights. Its central location also makes it perfect for a pre-show dinner. 

I was lucky enough to be invited to a menu tasting, along with several other food bloggers. We journeyed our way through 11 amazing dishes which left me very satisfied and eager to come back with Jason.

Mushroom Salad
The mushroom salad consisted of Shiitake, Button and Portobello mushrooms. The dish was full of umami and the parmesan added to it. The toasted pine nuts added another layer of texture.

Smoked Salmon 
The house smoked salmon was very flavoursome and was served in generous chunks. Each bite was flaky and tender. The roast beetroot provided a light sweetness while the horseradish gave a bit of heat. I was glad that the cauliflower panacotta was more of a puree than a jelly and added some creaminess to the dish. All the separate elements of this dish worked together very well to highlight the salmon.

Pan Seared Scallops
My eyes widened as this colourful dish came to the table. The scallops were cooked perfectly accompanied by earthy french lentils and bursts of flavour from the cherry tomatoes. I couldn't really taste any heat from the chili but I thought that the dish didn't need it.

Sweet Potato Tortelloni
What is the difference between tortelloni and tortellini, you ask? According to Wikipedia, a tortelloni is slightly bigger. Who decides how big is big? I didn't get that far with my Googling..

Nevertheless, the tortelloni was cooked al dente. The sweet potato filling was creamy although a little too sweet for my liking. I would have preferred a larger pasta to filling ratio - perhaps tortellini would be a better size to balance out the strong flavour of the sweet potato. I really enjoyed the nuttiness of the burnt butter and the saltiness of the parmesan.

Prosciutto Wrapped Pork and Beetroot Risotto
The french goats cheese added to the creaminess of the neon pink risotto. Together, they provided a fantastic base for the pork. The prosciutto formed a deliciously crispy and salty coating for the tender pork. 

Pork Cutlet Crépinette
For me, this was a great first introduction to crépinettes. The casing was amazingly thin and crispy. However, the stand out of this dish was the gnocchi. The soft pillows of potato had an amazing texture and was complimented well by the jus - I could have had a whole plate of these!

Lamb Shanks
The lamb shanks fell apart at the touch of my spoon. We were told that it had been cooking for the whole day and we could really tell! The cannellini mash wasn't too heavy and the sautéed silver beet added an earthy freshness to the meaty dish.

Confit Duck
The duck confit came in a creamy red curry. The duck had a nice crispy skin and easily pulled apart flesh. The curry sauce had a good amount of heat and had bursts of juiciness from bites of lychee and pineapple.

Chocolate Melting Pot
The chocolate lava cake was made of dark Belgian chocolate so it was quite rich. The vanilla bean ice cream and the blueberries provided great freshness to balance out the decadent cake. 

Black Doris Plum Tart
The warm plum tart was a welcome dessert on this cold night. The pastry had a wonderful texture which resembled a soft biscuit. The plums were plump and juicy, the pistachios gave a good crunch and the créme anglaise balanced out the tartness. 

Hazelnut Dacquoise 
The Hazelnut Dacquoise was my favourite dish. The very thin layers of hazelnut and salted caramel came together to form the lightest dessert I've ever had. The blackberry sorbet was wonderfully sweet (but not sickly) and the praline added a nice pop to the creamy dessert. All the flavours and textures on the plate came together perfectly.

To try some of these amazing dishes yourself, Aria Restaurant and Bar can be found at the Crowne Plaza, 128 Albert Street, Auckland. 

Lucy dined as a guest of Crowne Plaza, Auckland.

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1 comment:

  1. Oh is this Aria related to the Sydney Aria? You hear of chefs opening up versions in other countries!