Four Seasons Restaurant is the training ground for up and coming culinary professionals learning their trade at AUT’s Culinary School. This is set up as a fine-dining restaurant, with student chefs in the kitchen, student front-of-house staff and a tutor supervisor ensuring everything goes according to plan. Due to the student staff, bookings are essential. The restaurant is only open during the week and during semester times, and the menu changes every semester. They also do a degustation dinner one week per month. Prices at Four Seasons are incredibly reasonable; – $10 for an entrée, $20 for a main and $10 for desserts.
This was the venue for the third Dumpling Club evening outing; 12 of us made our way to the AUT’s WH Building, into an inviting space and a beautifully set up table. There’s something about an origami napkin that still delights me. The student staff were very attentive, though quite shy and were tentative in their interactions with the guests.
The restaurant is fully licensed, and there is also a good selection of non-alcoholic beverages, including the All Good Organics’ range of soft drinks.
For the entrée, I chose the coffee cured venison which was served with a blueberry sauce, caramelised walnuts and topped with fresh blueberries, baby cos and orange segments. The venison was beautifully cured, smokey and you can definitely taste the coffee which complements the gamey meat. I really liked all the flavours and textures on the plate. The coddled eggs is served under a crawfish bisque with poached prawns and chilli lemongrass oil. I am not a fan of runny yolk, and I thought the taste of the bisque was too strong. But it was an intriguing dish and others at the table enjoyed it. There was also an oak smoked salmon served with cucumber mousse and goats cheese, and a vegetarian option of capsicum and tomato bavarois.
For the main, I had the pan-seared lamb rump served with Mediterranean vegetables, polenta cake and black olives. The serving is huge, and I could only manage half of it. The lamb was overdone, but tender and went well with the hearty flavours. The chermoula crusted hapuku was my favourite; this is served with butternet puree and a pea pearl barley risotto. The chicken escalope was very moreish with its delicious gribiche sauce (herby egg and mustard mayonnaise) and house slaw. The chargrilled sirloin is served with straw-cut potato chips and a rocket and beetroot salad.
I chose the lemon and coconut cake for dessert. This came with freeze-dried lychees (amazing intense flavour), tropical fruit and banana ice-cream. A perfect combination; simple and delicious. I stole a fork of the rich, dense chocolate mousse. This was excellent as well, just enough sweetness while letting the chocolate shine. The greek yoghurt pannacotta with its rhubarb jelly and poached rhubarb and pain de genes (almond cake) was refreshing. The vacherin, which was the meringue nest holding a passionfruit curd and layered with plums, passionfruit and a strawberry compote looked and tasted lovely.
I was impressed by the professionalism of the kitchen and the wait staff. While the presentation of the mains could be improved, the flavours and technique were commendable. This is such a gem in the middle of the city, and definitely worth a visit. Next door to Four Seasons is Piko, AUT University’s café which serves smart casual cuisine all day during the week (shorter hours during semester breaks) and run tapas evenings on Fridays.
Four Seasons Restaurant
AUT University, Level 2, WH Building
Cnr Wellesley Street East & Mayoral Drive
Bookings: 09 – 921 9932 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Lunch: Tue – Fri, reservations available at 12 noon & 12:30pm
Dinner: Mon – Thu, reservations available at 6 & 6:30pm