Gisborne doing cuisine other than all sauces? I am shocked to say that it turns out Gisborne does have a little international culture! My little tiki tour trip to Gizzy happened to coincide with the famous French Bastille day – which I’ve never personally celebrated before, but apparently the people from Gisborne are all for it! The Marina Restaurant is Gisborne’s only French restaurant, and every year they hold a HUGE degustation dinner full of famous French dishes to celebrate Bastille day. My bf’s parents ended up buying us tickets – and who would turn down an opportunity to drink and taste some of the best French food, whilst also in French dress-up? Certainly not me, that’s for sure! So, we donned our berets and off we went to have a super dope degustation dinner.
As we walked in to the beautiful Marina restaurant, my eyes were instantly drawn to the MASSIVE croquembouche in the middle of the room, and I could tell this was going to be one hella good foodie night. The set menu was laid out on the table, with drink suggestions paired with each dish. A few of us on the table were vegetarian or vegan, and it was awesome to see that the chefs had created special versions of the set menu just for our dietary requirements.
After buying a few bottles of fancy French wine (which my bf and I probably drank waaay to much of), we were presented with our first course: escargot. I have never tried snails before, and the idea of trying it is a little off-putting, however these were paired with a super good basil pesto and toasted bruschetta which made them taste fabulous! The next course was a delicious French onion soup (very fitting) with toasted cheesy croutons which made the dish go from a 10 to a solid 11/10. After that we had a few more bottles of wine – which were also downed very fast by my boyfriend and I – and a cheeky little palette cleanser of a gin and quince sorbet which was superbly refreshing and tasty, and prepared our taste buds for the main course event. The set menu had duck confit as their main, however my boyfriend and I are pescatarian, so they whipped up a lush poached fish dish that was to die for – the fish was perfectly flaky, paired with a tangy lemon sauce and crunchy seasonal veg, you can’t fault it! For the dessert they served up a little buffet with apple Tarte Tatin, opera cake, and of course the prized Croquembouche. The Tatin was fruity and sweet, the Opera cake rich and moreish, and the Choux buns from the Croquembouche crunchy on the outside and filled with a delicious crème patisserie – each dish executed perfectly.
The evening was definitely one that I won’t forget – and I’m kind of surprised I still remember it after all the wine I had! Both the chefs and the FOH at the Marina really put on a show for bastille day, and because of their fantastical food, perfectly paired drinks and the pièce de résistance croquembouche – I have to award them an 8/10 on the CCL scale. I experienced this place when they were all putting on their best fare, however I am sure that on any normal day or evening the food, service and ambience would still boast that true classic continental charm.