Oh. My. God.
The new Hiakai at Mt Cook is stunning, and blows the rest of Wellington’s dining scene totally out of the water. And I don’t say that lightly.
Based in a relatively nondescript modernised old villa, you will enjoy some history on the ground floor before making your way upstairs to the dining space. I’m not saying any more about that so I don’t spoil the experience and dichotomies present.
Then menu is chosen at booking time (how many courses and whether you want the wine or very inventive non-alcoholic matches) so there is nothing to do on the night but sit back and enjoy. Beware if you cancel too late or fail to show you will be paying for the experience anyway, and I have absolutely no problem with that given the level at which they’re delivering. They also cater to dietary challenges with advance notice and discussion.
This is a journey through Maori and Pacific history in terms of ingredients and food evolution, thoughtfully designed and shared in detail by the servers for every single dish, including the first snacks. The only comparisons at this level I can think of are Steirereck in Vienna and Stone Barns at Blue Hills Farm out of New York city, both world top 50 restaurants. Truly.
We chose not to do the wine matches, but instead sampled a couple of drinks from the menu – wines for the rest of the team, and an excellent pea soda for yours truly.
I’m simply going to let the pictures and their captions tell the story for you.
Every dish had us thinking they’d reached the pinnacle until the very last dish arrived (and there’s a couple of snack dishes I’ve missed photographing given the haze of deliciousness I was in).
The only teeny tiny thing I could fault was my pet hate of no fork with dessert and having to chase food around the plate to get it up.
But overall, I would have sold my first-born (luckily there isn’t one or it would have been the chip fiend’s first-born) or been happy for them to charge my credit card with virtually any price for this experience.
Groups of 6pax maximum given the style of dining, Wednesday to Saturday.
Book well ahead.