Published on August 18th, 2011 | by ultimateomnoms


The Hidden Chambers on Shortland – Wine Chambers

Hyped up by the generous testimonials on their website, I was ready for an evening of classy dining when we were walking up Shortland Street. Only to almost walk completely pass the entrance (again)! We’re both quite short but it’s the first time I’ve seen a restaurant put their sign below knee length. Not something you’d notice after the sun sets.

I was expecting something like the Wine Room in Vivace, on High Street- chic and classy. The waitress walked us past the front part of the restaurant animated with chatter and into a separate area where it was eerily quiet and really really dark. And what was my first thought? Damn, not gona be able to take very nice food photos for you guys. Feel the looove.

Second thought? Couples Den.

Picture this. Soft music playing on a stereo set on a separate table in one corner of the room. With candles everywhere and soft white curtains to the side along with the incredibly dim lighting, the elaborate efforts to make this a romantic experience were very visible. The only thing possibly missing were rose petals everywhere. hehe.

Felt a bit like we had been set up by an overenthusiastic enthusiastic auntie.

Which would have been fine except they plonked 8 other table for twos in the same little room.

Selection of breads and dips with roquette pesto, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic reduction

Cecilia’s Entree: Duck liver parfait with crostini, cranberry and apple chutney

The pairing with cranberry and apple chutney was perfect because the parfait was leaning towards the salty side. Love parfait but this was probably the first time I couldn’t finish it! They filled the ramekin to the brim and before we knew it, we were out of crackers and it was too salty to eat by itself.

Rayshurshur’s Entree: Tiger prawns on crayfish risotto with lime, cherry tomatoes and salsa verde

When I saw Tiger prawns and crayfish, I imagined giant prawns and juicy crayfish. Even if risotto is a sort of pasta, I associate it with porridge rice – something I grew up eating everyday in Taiwan, so I had some expectations on how my risotto should be cooked. When the dish came, the prawns looked ah-maz-ing. But as I dug deeper into the risotto, it was slightly hard and overcooked. Disappointment.

I have still never tasted the perfect risotto – this is the second time I’ve ever ordered risotto, because I was put off by the first; that’s a story for another day. The dish itself wasn’t at total loss – at least they were generous with the prawns! Nice juicy fat prawns to open up my appetite.

Rayshurshur’s Main: Pork fillet  and braised pork tortellini on spiced pumpkin puree, beetroot and watercress

Pork pork pork! Another thing I don’t normally choose – not because I don’t like it, but just because other things always catch my eye more. But here, I found another cliche combination: Beef with potato mash, duck with kumara, pork with? Yes, pumpkin. I have to say, lucky the sweetness of the pumpkin was there because the fillets were slightly over salted to my taste.

Slightly salty, but still good. The tortellini reminded me of Chinese dumplings! I was hoping it would be the star of the dish. My mistake though, I always leave the best til last so by the time I had the tortellini, it had dried out quite a bit. Lesson learnt (not really).

Cecilia’s Main: Salmon on herbs, sauteed baby potatoes with seasonal vegetables and saffron sauce

Huge salmon lover here! The salmon was cooked beaaautifully and literally melted in my mouth. I don’t usually eat the skin but it was done so nice light and crispy that it would be silly not to have it with the salmon. Again it was a bit salty for my taste but nothing a few extra sips of water can’t fix.

Chocolate mousse with brandy snaps, poached strawberries and cream

Here’s a little story, I remember seeing somewhere on the menu saying to allow 15 minutes to prepare for the pudding that Rayshurshur had ordered, so we chose to wait for our desserts. We waited, and waited, and waited. Couples who came later than us had seen their desserts and had finished. We had an empty table.

So after some time, we asked our waiter about our dessert. He was very smooth and polite saying it won’t be long. Not long after, it came. Excited and hungry again! Later we told our fellow foodie Sarah, who had worked in the fine dining industry before – Her first reaction was:”They definitely forgot about it!” My reaction to that was:”I KNEW IT”

So back to my mousse, I think I already found my chocolate mousse winner at Occidental Belgian Beer Cafe just nearby so this was a so-so dessert. The coffee flavour was too strong and the chocolate not dark enough. Let me know where else to find good chocolate mousse in the comments below!

Sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice-cream

AHHH, MINE! That pudding was a treat, especially with the ice cream. And I guess I understand why they put ice cream with puddings now – just so the hot pudding isn’t too rich! I would come here again for that pudding. Especially on a cold day.

What an evening! Satisfied with full tummies, we were whipped back to reality with the Auckland’s blustery wind. Food was amazingly memorable but this could be a good spot for Valentine’s Day. Just don’t walk past it! You’ll never realise there’s a restaurant in there!

Wine Chambers

33 Shortland Street, Central Auckland City

Ph: (09) 309 8191



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