Wine Loft and Snobs on Shortland

The boy and I don’t get many nights together, with him working full time and me at uni all day and work all night, so when we have a night off, we like to make the most of it.

A while back I won a competition through Grab One for $150 worth of credit to use on their instant deals, so we have been working our way around Auckland, trying out new restaurants with the various vouchers, and last night seemed an ideal opportunity.

We headed up to Wine Loft to try a Mixed Grill Platter which we had a voucher for, and to grab a couple of their bar snack options. The picture on the voucher depicted a huge platter, bursting with meats, bread and pickles, so we were rather looking forward to it.

We took a seat in the dimly lit bar area and had a look at the menu. They definitely do have a vast selection of wine, but due to a throat infection I wasn’t allowed alcohol, and boy felt like coke so we ordered soft drinks- lets just say, no matter how you try and glam it up with slices of citrus fruit, Sprite still tastes like crap. for $4.50 for a small glass, I would have expected Phoenix, at least.

We ordered our food and it came fairly quickly, though the other dishes we ordered were missed by the chef and didn’t arrive until halfway through the platter. And what food it was..

The platter came out looking nothing at all like the picture, which I can handle, though it seems a little unfair for a voucher to have a picture of a dish on it if it’s not the dish the voucher is for- especially when the picture portrayed lots of veggie treats, and being a non-meat eater, I found I couldn’t eat anything from the actual dish which came out.

The mixed ‘grill’ platter (I would be hard-pressed to find an item on the plate which was grilled) consisted of:

Chilli lime prawns: these tasted of nothing, I didn’t see any sauce or marinade on them at all, and boy could only manage two prawns before leaving the rest.

Meatballs: Tiny balls of mince in sweet chilli sauce out of a bottle. Need I say more?

Sausages: We actually had to laugh at these, and spent a good portion of the meal analysing them. We came to the conclusion that they were the ‘little boys’ frankfurters you get for a few cents each at the supermarket, which had been fried, sliced and then microwaved (any ‘chef’ who uses a microwave to prepare food in a professional kitchen earns an instant black mark from me). They were edible, of course, but I would have expected more from such a classy seeming place.

Seared lamb fillet: Not much of this at all, about 4 slices, each the size of a 50c coin (which in New Zealand is not that big), but boy ate it with no complaints. My observation complaint was that it was sliced then fried, rather than the other way round.

Grilled Bread: If your idea of grilled is placing into an oven for 5 seconds. It was dry on one side, soggy on the other and inedible. Would it kill the chef to give us some butter? Olive oil? something?

There was also supposedly Chorizo, but I couldn’t see it. Perhaps some of those sausages were supposed to be it…

So overall, a disappointing platter, and I’m just glad I didn’t pay for it, because if I hadn’t had the voucher, I would have been walking out with a stern word to the host and refusing to pay.

As for the other dishes we ordered:

Pumpkin and Feta Risotto Balls: These were probably my favourite, they had no seasoning to speak of, and being a bar, there was no salt on the table. They were served with a side of sour cream (At first when I saw it, I thought it was Creme Fraiche and thought ‘there’s hope for this place yet!’ but alas, no). Otherwise though, they were hot, crisp and tasty.

Mixed Olives: I love me some olives, but they have to be firm. Most of these olives were squishy to the point of being inedible, which is a shame, because they were the only way the bread from the grill platter was edible.

Toasted Almonds: They were almonds. They were toasted. They had salt on them. You can’t really go wrong here, though I would have liked them to be freshly toasted (read as: warm), but that’s just me.

 

Service: The service was polite, if a little nervous. We deduced that the waiter must have been new, or just only used to working behind the bar. He did walk off three times while we were trying to order, thinking we were finished, but he explained later on that the reason he was so flustered was that the chef hadn’t turned up that day (I would say this would explain the awful food, but even Peter Gordon couldn’t turn a 50c frank into chorizo).

Price: Again, glad about the coupon, because $0 is exactly what that food was worth. This is most definitely a wine bar, and should stay that way. At normal price, the grill platter would have been $40, a thought which made boy and I very amused during the meal, because anybody who would pay that much for some dry bread and frankfurters should go past a Warehouse store on a Saturday- the local guides sell real sausages and fresh bread for $1.50 each.

Ambience: The Wine Loft is actually quite beautiful for a wine bar, it has plenty of tables and couches without being crowded. It’s dim- a great quality for a bar, not so much for a restaurant. There is a vast wine collection, and I can imagine i being very popular with the over 30 crowd.

Overall: The Wine Loft is a wine bar, I’m sure it’s great for that, but they should just stop with offering meals, or keep it to nuts and pizza, you can’t really go wrong there. 1/10 for dinner, I can’t judge it as a bar.

We had a voucher for $20 at Snobs on Shortland, so figured we’d stop by there so boy could have a beer and I could have dessert. I’d had my suspicions that Snobs and the Wine Loft were owned by the same people, as all the dishes coming up to the Loft were from down where Snobs is, but my fears were confirmed when I saw the same girl working the bar downstairs, as had done upstairs during dinner.

However, we had already purchased the voucher, and boy wanted his beer, so we pressed on and sat down.

Within minutes, we realised that the owners were not kidding when they named this place. For a restaurant with such kitschy decor around the place, I don’t know how they could treat us like we were inferior (I guess it was the motorcycle helmets and jeans), but the breaking point was when the owner took our order and got blatantly annoyed at us for only ordering one drink and one dessert. We actually sighed and flounced off shaking his head.

He then proceeded to come back twice more to make snide comments about our voucher and us needing two sets of cutlery.

As for the food- we ordered a Tiramisu, and I don’t know about the rest of you, but I always understood Tiramisu as a delicious mix of sponge, coffee, marscapone and cocoa. This was coffee flavoured ice cream, chocolate sponge and a weird jelly layer around the outside… It didn’t taste bad as such, but I couldn’t get over that weird jelly layer.

My main complaint here though, is that they used whipped cream from a can as a garnish. ‘scuse the language but WHIPPED CREAM FROM A FUCKING CAN?! There is no excuse for this, it takes less than a minute to whip cream with an electric beater, and it stays whipped, and it tastes so much better, and just UGH. It’s the laziest thing in the world.

 

Service: I probably shouldn’t have expected better from a place which proudly proclaims itself to be snobby, but the service did get better once we had a loud conversation about how rude he was.

Price: Again, I can only be glad we had a voucher, because Kirsty does not pay for whipped cream in a can and coffee flavoured jelly.

Ambience: It’s the compliment to the upstairs Wine Bar, I can imagine people stopping off after work for a drink upstairs, then coming down for dinner afterwards

Overall: Boy put it better than I could: ‘At least the beer tastes nice!’ 3/10

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