UPDATE: The Jardin Grill is currently closed due to a kitchen fire, re-opeingn mid 2017.
The new five-star Sofitel hotel is under way on Bolton Street.
There’s a botanical theme throughout given their nearness to the Botanic Gardens, including the two eating spaces – the Green Room bar, and the Jardin Grill restaurant (Jardin being French for garden/botanical).
The Green Room is very pleasant with lush furnishings and different spaces for quiet catchups, anytime tapas, or a celebration. They’re planning on stocking non-alcoholic champers shortly too, so you don’t miss out on a bubbly flute if not drinking – nice!
The staff are multi-national as you’d expect, and very professional and courteous. The bar lad certainly didn’t blink an eye when I asked him to create a mocktail that wasn’t sharp, sweet or too fruity, with a spot-on result.
They also have a $7.50 coffee and pastry, or coffee and scone deal daily from 7am; an easy and convenient place for that overdue coffee catchup.
The Jardin Grill has been decorated to mix a little ‘market’ with ‘stylish’ comfort.
The ‘market’ is achieved with wooden signs above the open kitchen counter, a meat and cheese pantry you can get up close and personal with, baskets of fruit and preserves around, and a wood-fired rotisserie stoked by the staff (luckily it was only a mocktail I’d had first or I might have been breaking into a rendition of Bill and Boyd’s ‘put another log on the fire, babe…..’, and you know what comes next!).
The ‘stylish’ is achieved with a mix of garden and earthy tones and patterns (make sure you look up), an inviting curved wine rack at the entry, a mix of plush and contemporary seating, attention to detail on the tables, and a delightful outside patio for fine days.
Jardín describe their food as contemporary with a strong bias towards NZ meats, cheeses and local seasonal products. Their tomato juice comes from a local grower, for example. Their pricing is hotel level ($18-$25 for tapas/entrees, $36-$43 for mains, and $15-$18 for desserts), with the menu set to expand further over the next couple of months towards their formal launch.
The current dinner menu has some interesting ingredients and dishes – tonka bean ice cream, beetroot and feta gratin, and blueberry and gin sorbet to name just a few, and the tapas likewise – mushroom cappuccino, wood-roasted merino spare ribs, and rocket/bacon arancini.
Dinner ended up being the the multi-fish parcel special wrapped in serrano and served on mussel risotto, and the honey roasted poisson on bacon and herb risotto. The poisson was fun to watch roasting, and again I was able to get up close and personal to see it. Dessert was a bitter chocolate tart, and brandy snap ice cream trio.
All dishes were pleasant with subtle flavours (the strongest notes being the risottos), including the bitter chocolate tart which turned out to be neither bitter nor sweet (pleasingly so as it happens). The staff need a little more time to gel and settle, and get to grips with the Wellington hospitality scene, however the bones of a nice experience are in place.
Jardin’s breakfast menu also operates a little differently to other hotels. You still pay a set fee, but can choose between just the continental, or the full, with an a’la’carte hot dish of your choosing (rather than a hot buffet). Or you could just pop by and have an a’la’carte dish. A nice mix of options, and again a very pleasant place for a breakfast catchup.
We watch with interest to see how Jardin develops.