This menu is inspired by Heston Blumenthal's holiday memories as a child.
We are invited, along with a map and clues to guide us, to savour a multi-course experience. It has a few curve-balls – for instance, parts of the menu are written in such small font that you have to use the magnifying glass provided (think of Alice in Wonderland) to read the list of ingredients.
There is more to discover as you taste and smell through each dish or concept. And there is always a little of Heston’s humour not far away – the boxes of breakfast cereal with a free gift and inspired nutritional information: contain his comments: energy, love (oh yes), skill (some), fibre (probably), memories (ah yes)…
Just the tonic we need - A beautiful composition of marigold and nasturtium flowers, Jerusalem artichoke panne cotta with a herbal tonic of cucumber and coriander.
Rise and shine, its breakfast time...we need to place an order.
Breakfast brioche with Hot and Cold tea, a choice of breakfast cereals (behind) including Queenflakes, Mock Munch and all offering a "free gift" as Heston always enjoyed the free gift inside. In my box, I find that the gift is a puzzle that must be assembled and one of the pieces is embossed with the NZ School of Food and Wine logo...The puzzle turns into a money box.
Money Box Puzzle completed and then we were given a coin that would later be used to buy an ice cream.
The Sound of the Sea is classic Heston and has been on the menu for over 10 years. You are issued some headphones and can listen to the seagulls and waves crashing on the foreshore.
An outstanding winelist of hundreds of wines with excellent choices by the glass.
Can I have some money for ice cream? - Here is the choice: Waldorf salad "Rocket", Salmon, avocado and horseradish "Twister" Crab and passion fruit "99"
Mr Whippy, mouthwatering frozen crab bisque in a short crust pastry cone.
Damping through the Borough Groves - truffles and mushrooms enhanced but the theatre of the mist.
Are you ready for dinner? - The Main Courses -
Main courses - Lamb - cooked for 32 hours at 58C or Turbot, truffle and Jerusalem artichokes
Beetroot macaron with horseradish cream followed by Noble Rot Dessert - intricate sugar work, dried apricot and mango, caramel dust and sugar.
Whisk(e)y gums - how can you resist these? And then it's Off to the land of Nod: Counting Sheep on this levitating pillow with dreamy light meringues.
And then to dream, Like a Kid in a Sweetshop. Heston's originals house opens up to an array of candies with a special package individually selected for each guest and including a white chocolate playing card in a crisp cream envelope sealed with wax.
The honorary degree of restaurant management.