The French Cafe
A few weeks ago we visited the French Cafe for dinner and I've been dying to write about how good it was! We went for a special celebratory meal. It's not the kind of place we frequent very often (unfortunately). From the moment you step inside you are transported a world away from Symonds street and into an environment that makes you think twice about licking the plate. My advice is do it anyway cos if you don't you'll miss out on those extra few seconds of food heaven!
We went the whole hog and had the 7 course tasting menu ... with matching wines, she whispers under her breath, ahem ... and it was goooood.
Our stand out dish of the evening was the smoked venison with juniper, blackcurrant, walnut and beetroot served with a Portugese grape variety red wine.
If you have never been to a restaurant like French Cafe before then I urge you to book a table 3 months in advance and save save save. It might be a moment on the lips but it is an experience that you will remember. My advice is to put your evening in the hands of the experienced and knowledgable staff. I love being served by people who treat their job as a career and love it even more when customers treat them that way. They will get you to try new things and you'll usually learn a thing or two (if you can remember it after that second glass of wine!)
The French Cafe is definitely the kind of restaurant you get dressed up to go to. We noticed a group get a talking to for coming in what looked like their running shoes, and rightly so. Places like this exist for special occasions and making an effort.The interior is stunningly beautiful in a contemporary and sophisticated manner. As much as I love the laid back friendly service that NZ does so well in the majority of restaurants, I do love the ceremony of dining out at what is most commonly referred to as 'fine dining'. No you won't be able to afford to eat for the rest of the month, but it is so worth it!!
The French Cafe is the closest dining experience in NZ we have come to compare to the Michelin star restaurants back home in Europe. Our favourite meal that we are still yet to top was in 2013 at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental in London. The food was incredible, surprising and totally over the top. We loved it! But what really stood out to us was the service. The knowledge of our waiter felt like you were talking to the Chef and their ability to know what we wanted before we even knew ourselves was ridiculous. It was one evening, but we still talk about it now.
The French Cafe has recently won Restaurant of the Year in the Cuisine Good Food Awards. It is described as being the total package and we totally agree.