A few weeks ago, ya’ cafecrawler girl here graduated! Only $46,000 for a sheet of paper, bargain, right?? One thing that comes along with graduation other than an overpriced piece of paper is food. Everybody knows that when you graduate, it’s a family affair, and when your parents come to town, they shout dinner. It’s a perfect scenario for the still-poor ex-student looking for blog content! Now with about 2,500 people graduating plus all their families, you gotta’ get in months earlier to seal a seat at a restaurant. After days and days of trawling the gram and analyzing menu’s, I secured a table at Sofitel’s Jardin Grill.
Even after living 4 years in Wellington, I hadn’t heard of this place, and after stalking their ‘gram and Facebook, I don’t think a lot of people have either. This made me even more curious to try their food, and when my grad’ night came around, my tummy was filled with excitement and hunger. When we first arrived, all I can say is that the place was beautiful. Jardin’s dining room has incredibly inviting and grand atmosphere, which is created by their elegant and semi-avantgarde rustic interior. We were sat right next to their open grill kitchen, that as a former chef, I absolutely love, and it filled the room with the most amazing aromas that tantalized the senses. Since I hadn’t eaten since lunch and I had just sat through a stupidly long ceremony, you bet this girl was hungry. But before I even looked at the menu, we were happily surprised with some little devilled-egg bruschetta amuse bouches to tickle our appetite. Service was off to an incredible start, and I couldn’t wait for my main course!
As I pondered over the menu, I noticed that they had heaps of vegetarian and pescatarian options, which is something I really appreciate. There’s nothing worse than only having one vegetarian option (which is ALWAYS a mushroom risotto). That being said I actually opted for their Milanese risotto, WHICH in my defense, had two super bougie types of mushrooms, and a whole lot of other ingredients that took it from a bog-standard dish to something god-like. One bite of the risotto, mushrooms, goats cheese curd, crunchy baked walnuts, Parmigiano Reggiano, and kale chips altogether in one mouthful was enough to send me to flavour paradise. The balance of all those rich and umami flavours was incredible, and it was by far the best dish in the dining room – I didn’t want it to end!
After this palatable plate of food, I thought I’d be full, but heck a graduation ceremony really sucks the energy out of you, and I knew dessert was a mandatory requirement if I was going to hit town after. We of course chose their signature Jardin Grill Autumn Garden Dessert, which consisted of a beautiful maple layer cake, with white chocolate mousse, macadamia caramel, macadamia nut brittle, and a crème fraiche ice cream. I love a dish with a small pool of ingredients made into different textures, and this dessert definitely ticked my ideal dish boxes. The crunch complimented the mousse, which complemented the cake, which complemented the crumb, and so on, until all the flavours made a full circle of bliss on your tongue.
But that’s not everything, apart from some cheeky tequila shots and a few bottles of wine, our incredible waiter surprised me with a beautiful complimentary coffee cake as a little extra graduation celebration. How amazing is that? Places that go the extra mile to show they care are my favourite. It’s never all about the food, it’s the whole dining experience – and Jardin Grill definitely made sure our night was nothing but superb. After summing up all of the fabulous food, delicious drinks, tongue-burning tequila, and second-to-none service, I can definitely say it was a wonderful place to dine. An 8/10 for me on the ol’ CCL scale. The whole evening was wonderful, however it’s a little further out of the CBD, and pretty heavy on the wallet for the dishes. Apart from that, a hidden gem that you need to check out if you’re ever in need of a good meal and a class Instagram pic (the wallpaper is EVERYTHING).