Gordon Blue is what we refer to in jest as Cordon Bleu. Ooh la la my friends, it’s best we don’t jest as this experience is nothing to scoff at. I discovered the opportunity to partake in this degustation via the Cordon Bleu online newsletter. A few times each year, the International cooking school opens its doors to the public to allow them to provide at a reasonable price, a five or seven course meal which also gives the chefs and their waitstaff in training, a chance to practice their culinary and service skills.
This was a no-brainer when I pitched the idea to two of my stalwart foodie friends. I reserved our table online and got confirmation for 3 people for the 5 course at $55. I even got a phonecall on the day confirming our reservation. However when we arrived, I noticed the menu stated $75 seven courses. Upon querying this, the maitre-d looked confused and said that this was the only option tonight. We conceded and kindly the maitre-d later offered to include wine-matching. Another no-brainer.
Two responsible drivers threw caution to the wind early deciding to take taxis home in advance. However the lightweight clean-eating foodietraveller got taken away rapidly by the amazing experience. Need I say more?
We chose our wines with each course in advance and did have to ask as to what the recommendations actually were. I was delighted to see one of my favourite champagnes; Jean-Marc Vigreux-Frere Brut on the menu so this was chosen to match the scallop and king fish ceviche. Fortunately tiny in portion, and delicious in flavour was a good starter.
The second course was Bouillabaisse- style consomee with seafood tortellini and crayfish mousse. I loved the fact they served the consomee at the table from a teapot. It just made it all the more special. This was divine and we chose the Rose from Aix-en-Provence to match. Now I do remember I had a few sips of this and was done early in the Rose department. Also as the menu was en Francais (with Anglais translation), as two out of the three of us speak fluent French, we didn’t even contemplate that our ordering en Francais, just confused the situation and got lost in translation. Tres drole.
At this stage unfortunately some champagne flutes had tipped over off a tray on someone near us which caused stress and commotion as you can imagine, so our waitress became slightly flustered from there onwards. As the food was so sublime, we remained forgiving naturally.
The third course was served with a small crusty French roll that went extremely well with the venison and pork terrine with cranberry and orange compote. I chose the Pinot Noir from Central Otago while the others chose a Savvie or Pinot Gris. I can recall them very envious at the generosity of my glass serving; defo not the average glass you get in a bar. We were good with having our obligatory water in between our tipples.
Trucking along to course four, we had the most delicious palate-cleanser; watermelon mimosa granita with a champagne jelly sphere. Yikes I didn’t even notice the alcohol!
Course five was quite substantial. Duck breast with confit leg, black pudding, gnocchi galette with poached rhubarb and fresh cherry duck jus. This was sensational and perfectly-matched with the Alpha Domus Cab Merlot from Hawkes Bay. This would have been my favourite red of the night.
Doh another few glasses of champagne went over at another table, the poor blighters. The male customer was a bit of a drama queen and stood up and made a big scene. I mean who wouldn’t want to be drenched in champagne right? Unfortunately by now our waitress was really in a spin and lost her way as to what course we were up to. Bless. We didn’t mind as we were having a whale of a time. Funny that.
Course six was the divine traditional French goats cheese served with beetroot, walnut and honeycomb. I’m sure we all chose the Man o War Syrah from Waiheke but I didn’t finish that glass as I was still enjoying my Alpha Domus.
Finally dessert; course seven, and three and a bit hours later we were presented with a gorgeous peach melba with nectarine gelato. Heavenly and even more so served with a sticky Alpha Domus from Hawkes Bay.
But wait there’s more. We got served these gorgeous petits-fours as afters and these didn’t even feature on the menu. Bonus. We so needed them as were were still hungry- NOT!.
When we went to pay we were then advised, despite the deal that we’d struck for $75 that we had to pay $80. Mmm interesting. Apart from the service being very like Fawlty Towers the quality, taste and presentation of the food was 12/10. It was just amazing. We would definitely return and we do hope the staff learn from their mistakes. They were definitely very convivial.
The restaurant went from empty to full within an hour so this was a really good sign. We would be content with five courses next time given it is very rich, and I would definitely take control of my wine consumption. Lesson learned on my part. Au revoir.