Last Wednesday I was invited to join a group of bloggers for the first Zomato meet up in Wellington at the Chameleon Restaurant, at the Intercontinental Hotel. I got to taste their divine autumn menu, enhanced by the inspired Ata Rangi pairings, each course bursting with fresh, intense flavours. Their menu changes seasonly and talented chef Paul Limacher makes the most out of local ingredients available at different times of the year.
When I first arrived at the hotel, I got distracted by a display of one of the costumes used by Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf on the Hobbit trilogy. As I was taking a photo on my iPhone, Geoff (director of sales and marketing at the hotel) quickly spotted me and took me over to the bar where all the other bloggers attending the event were enjoying a drink. I got myself a glass of infused lemon and gin, and sat down close to Kahu, Emma and Marie. Jenna, who I’ve met before at the Brunch Club meet up last month, was there too, as well as Tallulah, Rachel and Blaire. Shaun and James were representing Zomato and Helen from Ata Rangi completed the group. After a very stressful day at work, it was great to relax in such good company.
We then headed to the restaurant and two tables with marked seats waited us. The personalised menu was a sweet touch, and variations to accommodate dietary requirements were noted, so everyone was properly catered for that evening.
To start the degustation session, amuse bouche of duck on chicory leave.
The first dish served was avocado tartare with cornichon, roasted saganaki, beetroot chips and coriander juice, paired with a crisp, Dry Riesling 2010. I’d never have thought of combining avocado with pan fried cheese but now it seems so obvious it’s a perfect match, I can’t believe it took me so long to try it!
The next course was a plate of kingfish gravlax with creme fruit, vodka, cucumber, tomato jelly and watercress, paired with a refreshing Craighall Chardonnay 2013. It was like a delicate kiss straight out of the ocean.
Then, we had lamb rack and braised neck, with wild thyme honeyed caramelised yoghurt, black garlic, brussels and shitake, paired with an elegant, layered Pinot Noir 2012 and my favourite wine of the evening, a peppery perfumed Syrah 2010. The meat was so tender, coming out of the bone with no effort at all.
Dessert was an amazing piña colada coconut yoghurt mousse with rum pineapple and coconut sponge, followed by a plate of petit fours to share and coffee. I can’t stop thinking about it and would definitely go back just for another teste of that pineapple!
The menu isn’t actually divided into entrees and mains, and all the seasonal plates are NZ$26. It was an incredible evening and I had a wonderful time: amazing food, exceptional service, and lots of laughs with new friends.