I was invited by the restaurant to come along and experience Aria Restaurant’s new winter menu and take a look around the restaurant. I’ll be honest, I would never have thought to go to a hotel restaurant for a dinner out, but now – they’ll be at the top of my searching list when it comes to fine dining. It makes sense too because hotels hire only the best for their kitchens!
We were in a big group of bloggers and influencers, joined by our two Crowne Plaza hosts. trying out the winter menu which has twelve items on it.
To start, we all tried:-
Hot Smoked Akaroa Salmon with cauliflower and roasted beetroot
This was delicious, light and would be the perfect starter for a salmon lover. The salmon was perfect and cauliflower was a big highlight.
Pan Seared Scallops with braised lentils and cherry tomatoes
I’m not a fan of much seafood, but these scallops were cooked to perfection. So good. The lentils were full of flavour, a little crunch to them – delicious. I could eat these over and over again.
Shiitake, Button and Portobello Mushroom Salad
I personally didn’t try this dish as I don’t eat mushrooms, but from what I could gather it was a nice dish.
Sweet Potato Tortellini with spinach, burnt butter and shaved parmesan
This was the entree I was looking forward to the most, the burnt butter sauce had great flavour and the tortellini filling was sweet and light, the pasta itself was perhaps a little too Al Dente for my liking but regardless, this would be my second pick to have again.
Pork and Beetroot Risotto with French goats cheese
This dish looked SO good when it was placed on the table. The beetroot risotto was that perfect fuchsia colour. The pork medallions were a vey interesting texture and the flavour was overpowering for me. This was my least liked dish of the entrees.
All of the entrees were presented beautifully and matched with a delicious white wine, with my favourite being Gibbston Valley’s Gold River Pinot Gris.
By this point I could’ve gone home happy! But alas, we had only just gotten started.
We then moved on to four main dishes:-
Confit Duck with roasted pineapple, red curry and basmati rice
This was my favourite main. Incredible flavour in the thick curry, the roasted pineapple was a great addition to the curry, the duck was juicy, crispy and plentiful. This would be my pick to have again.. and again.. and again. This was definitely my favourite meal of the night.
Lamb Shanks with cannellini bean puree and silver beet
Lamb shanks are something I would hardly ever order at a restaurant, because I know I can make it at home really well. That being said, the lamb meat fell of the bone the instant you touched it with the knife, it was soft, really moist and the cannelloni be a puree with the gravy from the lamb worked so well. I would definitely order their Lamb Shank again, very very tasty.
Pork Cutlets with mushrooms and potato gnocchi
I was surprised by this dish as the pork had a stuffed skin of mushroom and other flavour. I did ry this dish, and enjoyed it as the mushroom flavour wasn’t overpowering. The gnocchi were big and soft but there was only a handful of them.
Pumpkin and Buckwheat Salad with onions, Brazil nuts and cherry tomatoes – This dish looked the part! It was huge. I didn’t try every element of the salad but what I did taste was great. It would be the perfect main to share.
Again, each of these main dishes were presented well and served with a glass of red wine to match. I’ll be honest though I’m not a red wine drinker, so I managed to grab another glass of the Gibston Valley 😉
On to dessert! We tried three desserts:-
Chocolate Melting Pot – This was the favourite of the table – even before it arrived. Made with Belgian chocolate, the chocolate melting pot comes in a small bowl with a pudding in it, once you open the pudding there is an amazing thick chocolate sauce to devour. This dessert is very rich and sweet, a little too sweet for me personally but it was amazing none-the-less.
Black Doris Plum Tart – This dessert was delicious! Everything about it worked together perfectly. The plums melted in your mouth with the creme anglaise, the pistachios added a perfect crunch and burst of flavour – so delicious. The casing or basket that the plums are baked in is a brioche which really made the dessert for me. This would be my pick to have again – a hundred times over …and I’m not a dessert person!
Hazelnut Dacquoise – I was really intrigued by this dish as it just looks fun to eat. It is, it’s delicious. All elements are very sweet so I didn’t have too much of it but I did enjoy it.
We also enjoyed a port with dessert – Taylor’s 10 yo. It was a strong, very good port.
As you can probably tell – the food was amazing. It was all presented wonderfully too. The service was consistent, attentive and friendly – a great combination, they always had us smiling and topped up our drinks without us event noticing.
I loved this experience and would love to come back to Aria for dinner with just my husband as it really is the perfect setting for date night. As I said before, I would never think to come to a hotel restaurant and Aria has definitely changed that for me, I went in expecting a lovely meal and night, and was blown away.
My favourite meal of the night was the Confit Duck, followed by the Scallops and that Plum Tart – definitely try them!
Which dish of Aria Restaurant’s would be your pick?