Shirley Chan
This is writing…

Dining to satisfy the Soul

by Shirley Chan
(ThermalAir, Rotorua Daily Post)

As I sipped my wine, a gigantic divine artist touched the magnificent mountains and hills with pink, turned the lake azure and sprinkled the city and streets with twinkling stardust.

Dining is an experience to satisfy the soul… and to fall in love again

The drive up to Aorangi Peak Restaurant, at the top of Mt Ngongotaha previewed the spectacular experience but nothing prepared me for the “Wow” factor of this New Zealand landmark of Rotorua when I pulled into the ample car park and the first Lockwood original.

From the new Café deck, I imbibed the serenity and beauty of all that Mother Nature had blessed the region with. The restaurant is the ideal spot to view 90% of the city of Rotorua with one sweeping glance – the city lay in a panoramic spread below me, right on Lake Rotorua, Mokoia Island right in front of me and majestic Mt Tarawera to the right.

Three levels from the 60-seater Mokoia fine dining room and the multi-function 200-seater Tarawera Room up to the VIP room, Ihenga’s Lookout, right at the top level which can accommodate 30, Aorangi Peak truly brings home its exclusivity and this uniquely beautiful location.

Through full-sized picture windows, I witnessed a spectacular artistic process on a mega-scale. As I sipped my wine, a gigantic divine artist touched the magnificent mountains and hills with pink, turned the lake azure and sprinkled the city and streets with twinkling stardust. All this was gradually brought, a shade at a time, to a crescendo of deep navy skies filled with twinkling stars where the mountains and hills stood majestically in their inky-blackness and the whole Milky Way was brought down to the city, turning it into a fairyland of twinkling lights as far as my eye could see. My soul was fed as my food arrived.

Aorangi Peak is fine dining without the aloofness and snobbiness often associated with it. The smart and distinguished-looking staff were approachable and amiable while they executed their duties precisely. As I waited for my order, complimentary hor d’oeuvres arrived to keep me company.

My entrée of scallops, delectably plump and perfectly seared, reflected the high cuisine standard. The duck breast arrived next, perfectly tender, juicy, sliced and presented elegantly. The apple sauce was added around the exquisite ensemble with flair at the table, served with a platter of dainty vegetables. I finished this experience with a chocolate dessert, an up-turned timbale of chocolate which oozed out molten chocolate as I cut into it. Delicious. My appetite, sense of sight, taste, smell and sound, were fully satisfied.

As the smart, distinguished staff pampered, I was reminded that dining should not be just stuffing food into the body. Dining, as at Aorangi Peak, is beyond what is just beautifully laid out on the plate. It is an experience; an experience to be savoured by the soul as well as the mind, complimented by the senses of taste, smell and sights.

Combined with top wines and a full bar, nostalgic music, excellent friendly service, exquisite food and your chosen company for the evening, dining at Aorangi Peak takes you back to the basics of an unforgettable dining experience – falling in love again with the beauty of the city, the view, the food and wine and sharing it with the special persons in your life. It is as all dining should be.

There is no other place to showcase the city and your pride in it when you have visitors or that special person to show your appreciation to. Aorangi Peak has a Café from 10am – 4pm daily, where, for a similar city café price, the beauty of nature, special view from the highest mountain in Rotorua and top service come free of charge.

Weddings will be unforgettable and the talk for generations after at the Tarawera Room . With its now extended open deck and gardens and a bridal pergola against a backdrop of a panoramic view a wedding at Aorangi Peak will be indelible in the memories of your guests.

Conferences, whether they are large or exclusive, promise to be equally memorable at Aorangi Peak, where the location will fill you with pride to show your visiting delegates what you have to offer and endorse your good decision making skills when you choose such a perfect location to crunch the numbers or discuss that deal.

You will surely impress by booking Ihenga’s Lookout VIP room for a romantic dinner for two, a private group or a small exclusive conference. Whatever the purpose, the highest room on the top of the mountain is sure to say “good taste”.

For Christmas 2008, Aorangi Peak has a set menu at reasonable prices for you to enjoy the season from the best vantage point in Rotorua and celebrate in style.

Aorangi Peak Restaurant reminds us that dining is an experience, beyond just satisfying the appetite for food. Dining is an experience to satisfy the soul and to fall in love again – with the town, the view, the company, and the great food and wine that Rotorua and New Zealand have to offer at this landmark, sparkling at the top of its highest mountain, day and night.