March 3, 2014
Mt. Cook Village, with an assortment of lodging and restaurants to accommodate a variety of tastes, from the upscale Hermitage Hotel to camping, sits at the end of Route 80 at the base of the of Hooker Valley with views of snowy peaks including Mt Cook, the highest peak in New Zealand.
We opted for the Aoraki Court Motel located at the edge of the village. Glacier views dwarf the motel and the village beyond.
Rooms are spacious, clean, comfortable and decorated with a contemporary flair that feels more like a boutique hotel than a motel. Rooms include a kitchenette with cooking facilities. Laundry facilities are also available on the property.
Old Mountaineers Café a high ceilinged café with mountain views. The food, however, was underwhelming.
Salmon salad – very ordinary, cured salmon on a bed of lettuce with a caper dressing. Not bad but should be listed as a starter rather than on the general list of evening mains.
The evening roast chicken was a great disappointment. Looked and tasted like the dish had been sitting around. Their idea of roasted must mean previously cooked, including the vegetables, rather than roasted in the oven. They didn’t even bother to reheat it much.
For dessert – the apple crumble had nice apple flavor.
Despite the disappointments they do, however, serve great hot chocolate.
The spacious, upscale dining room has one of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen. Even after a day of changeable weather with the clouds still hanging around the peak, I just can’t get enough of this glacier view.
Started with the poached quail served with fava beans, egg yolk, truffled mashed potatoes, quinoa and tempura onion – a riot of flavors and textures, but overall a pleasing dish.
And the chicken and dumpling soup with spring onions and mushrooms in a consommé, a light version of a classic dish. Although not unpleasant, the broth tasted more beefy than that rich chickeny goodness you expect in a good chicken soup.
For mains we tried the fish of the day, grouper served on a bed of soba noodles and shredded vegetables. The dish resembled more of a diet plate than a well thought out main. Light on both flavor and inspiration.
The bacon wrapped venison served on a bed of greens with a blueberry compote, roasted whole baby carrots and potatoes, and a kumara puree. While the interplay of flavors and texture was top notch including the quality of the venison, the meat was unfortunately over cooked. I ordered medium rare and was served a good medium. The server would have gladly replaced the order but by then I didn’t want to wait and disrupt the flow of the meal. A great disappointment in an otherwise flavorful and inventive dish.