Sunday, February 19, 2012

Banque - 5 Course Degustation Menu

 Top:  Course 1 - Scampi & Sweet corn Veloute, Basil
 Bottom: Course 3 - Roasted cauliflower tart fine, 
 Shitake mushrooms, celery heart,  hazelnut creme fraiche
I have always found it really exciting when one of the good restaurants offers "specials" on the internet.  Not long ago, I bought the 5-Course Degustation Menu for 2 people at  Banque, in Remuera, Auckland.  I have personally owned an  Entertainment Book for many years and have always been excited when I read the Banque menu.  So, what better way to try a restaurant than a 50% off for degustation for 2 people.  On the website, the Banque Menu showed delicious pictures of the degustation dishes and I got really excited!

When we arrived tonight at 6pm sharp, it was nice to find the restaurant had two customers car park - not like they need it but good to see.  It was also nice to see that the menu for the evening was awaiting us at the table.  Although there were matching wines for each course, I felt the waiter didn't really push for it.  It is pros and cons, for me, personally I like to order my own wine and was glad the waiter did left us to decide our own.  They had a good selection of wine available of a range of prices, which is good.  The wine we ordered was promptly delivered, though here I'm being very fussy - I like my white wine glasses chilled especially in summer, as I find the wine gets warmed up rather quickly.  An adequate amount of wine was received in the glass and was very welcomed by my belly!

Although the "special" was for two people, we had a 3rd person who ordered from the a la carte menu.    I had to request a menu for the 3rd person, not a good start.  Before I arrive at the restaurant I have browsed through various reviews on the internet and found extreme mix reviews about this restaurant, most negative comments are about their services.  It was very disappointing that before the 3rd person even ordered, our first course had basically the 3rd person had to sit there and watch us eat and then have to ask the waiter whether he could actually order.

The first course was a scampi & sweet corn veloute, basil, delicious!  The sweet corn based sauce with a hint of scampi which not overpowering and drizzle of basil sauce, beautiful combination.  Couldn't really taste the basil but overall very nice.  The second course was the seared Coromandel scallops, caramelised pork hock, vanilla pineapple, and coconut.  Love the caramelised pork hock, absolutely skilful and the scallops was fresh and not overdone, BONUS!  The third course was the roasted cauliflower tart fine, shitake mushrooms, celery heart, and hazelnut crème fraiche.  I believe this has to be my favourite.  The crunchy base contrasting the creamy cauliflower with cheese melt over, YUM!  The fourth and meaty course was the Hawkes Bay lamb loin, fondant potato, pea puree, fennel and goat cheese.  The lamb was done to perfection, fondant potato was a little bit dry at the bottom, both the pea puree and goat cheese was very good.  They also served a lemon sorbet after this as pellet cleanser.  The last course, desert - Dark chocolate delice, white chocolate & passion fruit chiboust, and hazelnut dacquoise.  I heart desert!  Both the dark chocolate delice and the which chocolate & passion fruit chiboust were AMAZING - need to replicate and remake them...I've always had a week spot for desert and what a wonderful way to end the 5 courses EXCEPT I WAS STILL VERY HUNGRY :(

Top: Course 2 - Seared Coromandel scallops, caramelised pork hock, vanilla pineapple, coconut.
Middle: Course 4 - Hawkes Bay lab loin, fondant potato, pea puree, fennel & goat cheese.
Bottom: Course 5 - Dark chocolate delice, white chocolate & passion fruit chiboust, hazelnut dacquoise

The photos on the left were taken by me and the photos on the right were taken from the Banque Website.  Note the difference in the QUANTITY in the first two dishes?  The restaurant advertised THREE scallops and pork hock but I only got TWO of each.  Same with the Lamb, Banque advertised THREE lamb loins, and I only got TWO...Looking the relative size of the desert I got served compared to the passion fruit droplets, which is smaller than the one shown in the Banque my desert MIRACULOUSLY SHRUNKEN due to the hot temperature in summer?...very disappointed when the restaurants reduce the food quantity because of "specials"...I was so hungry when I got home I had eat something it was NOT FUNNY!!! :(

The non-degustation person ordered the Roast Pork Loin with croquette of pork shoulder, spiced pear, watercress, red onion jam, golden kumara puree.  For desert the Steamed Treacle Fig Pudding with golden syrup ice cream & liquorice syrup.  That Roast Pork Loin has to be the BEST I've ever tasted - 5 starts.  Flavourful, succulent and has a unique taste to it that I still cannot figure out what it is.  The pear, red onion jam and kumara puree was done beautifully.  However, paying $36 for the dish you'll need to order some sides to go with it...The steamed treacle fig pudding was daring and adventurous by the chef.  As an absolute fan of sticky date pudding I have to say this creation using fig was not quite up to scratch.  You cannot taste the fig, and more importantly, I believe the chef tried to bring out the fig flavour by using dried figs, which made an unpleasant texture.  The golden syrup ice cream was smooth and delightful!


FOOD: Delicious but very small quantity.
PRICE: Expensive for the quantity of food but not for the quality of the food.
SERVICE: Overall bad - they didn't offer the non-degustation person a menu (I had to ask), they served the first course before the person even ordered AND when we finished eating desert, only two of us had finished and they came and took the plates away A BIG NO NO!  The waiters weren't engaging or warm at all :(  What's worst, when I didn't tip them at the end, they became a little bit unfriendly...not cool yo!
ATMOSPHERE: Great, I love the table setting.  You feel like you're in an outdoor seating but kept warm, although the lady on the next table got so cold she had to put her jacket on...

Summary: I would go again BUT ONLY with my entertainment card, it is just overpriced even for the quality of food.  I have paid less for equally delicious food that fills my tummy.  If you want a true 5 Star services you need to look elsewhere.  For the price you pay for food, especially for the normal priced degustation, one would expect the waiter to spend some time introducing you to what you're about to eat etc...However was lacking at Banque.  

So, if you don't have an entertainment card or discount card like I do, I would personally stay away from this restaurant - unless someone else's paying :p 


  1. Wow what a let down. I find it absolutely ridiculous that the service was so poor and then they got snippy with you for not tipping. Might I remind this restaurant that tipping is not customary in New Zealand or the very simplae fact that Goods and Services tax (recently raised, might I add) is included in all prices.

    It looks like this place is trying to provide funky, high quality food but the sad fact is that even if the food had been perfect (it wasn't) then poor service kills any restaurant experience for the customer. It's the whole experience.

  2. It was a major let down, this reminds me that I need to catch up with a colleague who also bought the same special deal.

    I have to agree with you on the tipping, because the NZ government has recently raised the minimum wage to $13.50.

    I got really excited about this place at the beginning because I've heard great reviews back in the days... I wondered what happened between then and now :(