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Aria Restaurant & Bar - Crowne Plaza

5 star rating 24 reviews

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09 3755204

Crowne Plaza, 128 Albert Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland

  European, Kiwi, Steakhouse
6:30 AM to 10:30 AM, 12 Noon to 3:30 PM, 5:30 PM to 10:30 PM


Reviews for Aria Restaurant & Bar - Crowne Plaza

4 star rating
by Zebedee
16 days ago

enjoyed a business dinner at aria last week. had the oysters for entrée, they were delicious. decent size, creamy and fresh. for main I had the steak, was ok - don't think it was worth fifty bucks. finished it all off with the plum tart which was delicious.
we washed everything down with a few bottles of the roaring meg, very nice.

5 star rating
by Sheena
2 months ago

I was lucky enough to be invited to join Aria Restaurant in experiencing their culinary journey, featuring menus from their three award-winning chefs. Tonight, I got to try the menu curated by Vikas Khanna, the world-leading Indian chef and host of Masterchef India.

I'm not much of a wine drinker, so I asked the waitress for a recommendation. She paired my wine choice (Squealing Pig Sauvignon Blanc) with our first course Chicken Tikka Mirza Hasnu with endive and lemon puree. My wine came chilled, and I definitely got in to it! 

The appetiser was good! The chicken was tender and fell apart in our mouths. Every aspect added flavour and texture to the dish. There were even pomegranate seeds which added a bit of sweetness to the saltiness and spice of the chicken. The only criticism we had was the chicken was too soft. It fell apart nicely, but the texture almost made it seem like it was tuna, instead of chicken.

The main course was slow cooked lamb and apricot chutney. It was a delicious curry. The lamb pieces were so tender and the rice broke up the flavours perfectly. The actual flavour and spice of the curry was perfect! There was a hint of spice in each mouthful which I absolutely loved. 

Our dessert tonight was a Masala Chai Brulee. The portion size was huge! We would've easily been content with one dessert to share, as we both got through half of our desserts, and couldn't eat any more. The dessert was perfect. It was basically a creme brulee, with a hint of masala spice and biscuit crumbs garnished on top. I couldn't ask for more.

The atmosphere is perfect for a date night. One word would sum up Aria Restaurant perfectly: classy. I wouldn't dine here with a huge group of people, but it is definitely on my list when I'm after an intimate gathering with a few close friends or a second date! 

From start to finish, the service was faultless. The staff were friendly and attentive, but not to the point of being annoying. They were so professional as well! 

I had an amazing experience dining here and I only wish that I had found out about Aria sooner.

5 star rating
by Auckland Eats
2 months ago

We decided to have our meal for four people at the Aria restaurant and bar a few days ago. What a great experience. The meals arrived quickly and appropriately in accordance with our entree orders and were impeccably presented. We had the 'off the grill' Scotch and Eye Fillets, both with mushrooms and fries, a fish of the day (Hapuka), and a scrumptious salad. We also ordered four cocktails and other beverages. All meals were fantastic and cooked as ordered. What made our night was the attentive and well mannered staff who were perfectly accommodating. We highly recommend this establishment.

4 star rating
by Lawrie
2 months ago

Big hotels always feel like big hotels. So no surprises but what was good was great was the service and how welcome you feel even with three kids. The salmon entrée was not great but was made up for by the steak. Kids meals were amazing value and very good. The fruit salad kids deserters awes but the opposite can be said for the fro yo

2 star rating
by Akshay Arora
3 months ago

After reading the reviews I decided to go here for my birthday. When we arrived the entire restaurant was empty which I understood after my dining experience. Staff were evidently not trained regularly forgetting cutlery . Not up to scratch for supposed fine dining. Astonishing that before arriving a staff member was unsure what byo meant on the phone and told us it was ok, then at the restaurant we were informed they did not have a license.
The food was satisfactory. Overall was a decent one off dining experience very unlikely to visit again .

4 star rating
by Madicattt
4 months ago

Tucked away in the Crowne Plaza hotel, Aria is not a restaurant that you'll bump into on the street, but if you venture in the doors and to the left you'll find a restaurant worth stopping for. 

I was invited by the Crowne Plaza team to try out the Aria menu. That means this review will be all about the food and the space (rather than the service!) 

Our meal began with the hot smoked Akaroa salmon with cauliflower and roasted beetroot, the Shiitake, button and portobello mushroom salad and the Pan Seared Scallops with braised lentils and cherry tomatoes. Of these three the Salmon and Scallops stood out. The Salmon is smoked in house and was divinely smoky whilst the scallops were the most perfect scallops I have ever had the delight of tasting. My only complaint was that I didn't have a whole plate of 'em to myself. 

Our next course was my favourite. Beetroot infused risotto, pork shoulder wrapped in prosciutto, French goats cheese, crispy parmesan and water cress and Kumara and red onion stuffed tortelloni, wilted baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, burnt butter, caramelized walnuts and shaved Parmesan.

The pork shoulder was exquisite but it was the tortelloni that really captured my heart. If you're not familiar with tortelloni - it's like the dumpling of Italian cooking, a giant stuff piece of pasta, oozing flavour. 

Our mains were less exciting for me personally, but only because I'm not a massive fan of large servings of red meat. We had Confit duck leg with lychee, roasted pineapple, red curry and basmati rice, Slow cooked lamb shanks with cannellini bean puree, sautéed silver beat and Pork cutlet and Portobello mushrooms wrapped in crepinette with honey roasted carrots and potato gnocchi. 

Of our mains my favourite dish was the confit duck leg, the lychees and roasted pineapple totally transformed the dish, adding a sweet flavour to the insane richness of the confit duck and curry. 

You'd think we'd be fit to burst but we ended the evening with dessert and a glass of port. 

Hazelnut cremeux, salted caramel, chocolate cream, smoked praline, raspberry and pomegranate sorbet, Dark belgian chocolate fondant, blueberries, french vanilla bean ice cream and Black doris plum tart, crème anglaise, toasted pistachio nuts, mascarpone. Looking back it's hard to say which was the most delicious, each was perfect in it's own way. 

Aria totally wowed me with their menu. Whenever I'm invited to try a menu it makes me nervous - what if I hate it! But this one left me delighted. Each dish was delicious, presented beautifully and cooked extremely well. 

If you're looking for a location for a sit down dinner, I would highly recommend it. They have plenty of space for big groups or nice corners for a romantic date. 


4 star rating
by It's All Grae-v
4 months ago

I don’t usually do ‘fine dining’, but when I was invited with bloggers to try the Winter menu at Aria Restaurant, I was intrigued.

Nestled away beyond the bar was a large seating area that looked elegant and slightly dim – suitably romantic for a couple, but also stylish and warm for groups.   

The entrees were: Smoked Salmon, Mushroom Salad, Sweet potato Tortellini, Pork and Beetroot Risotto, and Seared Scallops.

First and foremost, I am not a seafood or mushroom person. Thus, the scallops didn’t do much for me and I didn’t try the salad. I also don’t usually like salmon, however I would definitely have been happy to finish that dish - the salmon was nice and the cauliflower panna cotta was surprisingly tasty. I enjoyed the tortellini, and despite it being a touch too al dente for my liking, the flavours were good. While the risotto looked unusual, the beetroot and cheese made it very pleasant and easy to eat - it didn’t even need the pork. I’d definitely order any of those latter three again, and was left amazed at how much I enjoyed that salmon.


The mains available were: Confit of Duck, Lamb Shanks, Pork Crepinette, and Pumpkin and Buckwheat salad.

Once again, I didn’t try the salad (left that for the vegetarians that were with us) and while I knew there was a layer of mushroom inside the pork, it didn’t put me off too much - though the gnocchi was disappointingly sparse for me. There was one lamb shank and it was huge. The meat was soft and tasty, and it was plentiful. I had looked forward to the duck and it didn’t disappoint - a really tasty curry with small duck leg(s) on top and while I’d probably prefer it to be more integrated, it was still my pick of the mains, just edging out that massive lamb shank. At $38 each you do need to make sure you choose wisely.


And finally the desserts were: Hazelnut Dacquoise, Chocolate Melting Pot, and Plum Tart.

I have a sweet tooth, and the Plum Tart didn’t tantalise me, though the tart itself was well made. It seems perfect for someone who doesn’t like overly sweet things but still wants to round off their meal. The Chocolate Melting Pot was what everyone was looking forward to, and it was rich and warm. The only thing for me is that you can get a similar ‘lava cake’ from a fast food outlet for over $10 less… It didn’t seem to offer that much point of difference. The Hazelnut was probably my pick – it was sweet and smooth, and the sorbet (which itself was delicious) balanced it with a little tartness.

We finished with a glass of Taylor’s 10yo port which was divine.

Overall, if you’re spending upwards of $70 per person (not including drinks) it had better be something special. I was pleasantly surprised and satisfied by a few menu items – specifically the entire salmon dish, and the lamb and duck mains. I’m not sure I’d be able to afford to go back, but know what I’d have if I did!

5 star rating
by Myfoxycorner
4 months ago

Aria is the rather secretive restaurant in the Crowne Plaza Hotel. A place that I have walked past every day for the last two years without realising there was an exquisite restaurant located inside. Funny that.

We were invited here in a group of bloggers to review their new winter menu and try out a range of their dishes. Being vegetarian, we didn't taste the meat/seafood (obviously) but I tried basically everythin else, from the canneloni bean puree to the sauces to the condiments. It was all delicious. 

The restaurant itself is large, with enough space that even when it is full I think it would feel rather private. The decor is perfect for winter, lush tones of red accentuate a warm and inviting dining area.

First up we tried the entrees on the menu, both the cold and warm options. Without a doubt, my favourite was the Sweet Potato Tortellini, packed with flavour, perfectly al dente and dripping with the most delicious burnt butter sauce. Drool worthy. The beetroot risotto (with the Pork) was also delicious and rich, with little bursts of goats cheese.

The husband and I went to town on the Pumpkin and Buckwheat salad. Although the buckwheat was missing, the textures in this salad were spot on, and the tart lemon dressing was a perfect, simple accompaniment to all the delicious flavours of the salad. Also, confit red onions, how have I never had these before?!

Overall, the mains aren’t cheap here, but the sizes are extremely generous, the flavours are bold and wonderful and the produce used is of great quality.There’s a good range of proteins, as well as options for vegans/vegetarians and gluten free diners.

Deserts were demolished within minutes, Edd was lucky to snap a photo before we lunged in with our spoons held aggressively. I would come back here just for desert, although I’m not sure which I would go for as they were all stunning. One of the favourites was the Black Doris tart with creme anglaise, marscapone and brioche pastry. Divine, I would definitely come back just to go to town on the desert menu. 

Aria would make a great location for a bit of a treat; an anniversary, a gift for someone who has everything, a special occasion that deserves some good food and wine. The staff are friendly, and passionate about the food. The ambience is warm and inviting, with a generous touch of class. The food is interesting and delicious. 

See more over on myfoxycorner.co.nz

5 star rating
by Laura Lock
5 months ago

I loved coming to Aria! I was invited by the restaurant to come along and experience Aria's new winter menu and take a look around the restaurant. I'll be honest, I would never have thought to go to a hotel restaurant for a dinner out, but I'll definitely keep them on my radar from now on!  

Aria is located in the Crowne Plaza lobby. Tucked away to the side you wouldn’t know it was there but it’s actually very inviting and perfect for a date night.  

We were in a big group of people trying out the winter menu which has 12 items on the menu.

To start, we all tried:-
Hot Smoked Akaroa Salmon with cauliflower and roasted beetroot - This was delicious, light and would be the perfect starter for a salmon lover. The salmon was perfect and cauliflower was a big highlight.

Pan Seared Scallops with braised lentils and cherry tomatoes - I’m not a fan of much seafood, but these scallops were cooked to perfection and the lentils full of flavour. This would be my pick when coming back to Aria.

Shiitake, Button and Portobello Mushroom Salad - I personally didn’t try this dish as I don’t eat mushrooms.

Sweet Potato Tortellini with spinach, burnt butter and shaved parmesan - This was the entree I was looking forward to the most, the burnt butter sauce had great flavour and the tortellini filling was sweet and light, the pasta itself was perhaps a little too Al Dente for my liking but regardless, this would be my second pick to have again.

Pork and Beetroot Risotto with French goats cheese - This dish looked SO good when it was placed on the table. The beetroot risotto was that perfect fuchsia colour. The pork medallions were a vey interesting texture and the flavour was overpowering for me. This was my least liked dish of the entrees.

We then moved on to four main dishes:-

Confit Duck with roasted pineapple, red curry and basmati rice - This was my favourite main. Incredible flavour in the thick curry, the roasted pineapple was a great addition to the curry, the duck was juicy, crispy and plentiful. This would be my pick to have again.
Lamb Shanks with cannellini bean puree and silver beet - The lamb meat fell of the bone the instant you touched it with the knife, it was soft, really moist and the cannelloni be a puree with the gravy from the lamb worked so well. This would be my second pick to have again.

Pork Cutlets with mushrooms and potato gnocchi - I was very surprised by this dish as the pork had a stuffed skin of mushroom and other flavour. I did ry this dish, and enjoyed it as the mushroom flavour wasn’t overpowering. The gnocchi were big and soft but there was only a handful of them.

Pumpkin and Buckwheat Salad with onions, Brazil nuts and cherry tomatoes - This dish looked the part! It is huge. I didn’t try every element of the salad but what I did taste was great. It would be the perfect main to share.

On to dessert! We tried three desserts and all were amazing:-

Chocolate Melting Pot - This was I think the favourite of the table. Made with Belgian chocolate, out comes a small bowl with a pudding in it, once you open the pudding there is an amazing thick chocolate sauce to devour. This dessert is very rich and sweet.

Black Doris Plum Tart - This dessert was delicious! Everything about it worked together perfectly. The plums melted in your mouth and the creme anglaise with the pistachios were so delicious. The casing or basket that the plums are baked in is a brioche which made the dessert for me. This would be my pick to have again - a hundred times over! …and I’m not a sweet tooth person!

Hazelnut Dacquoise - I was really intrigued by this dish as it just looks fun to eat. It is, it’s delicious. All elements are very sweet so I didn’t have too much of it but I did enjoy it.

Each set of meals were wine paired and we also enjoyed a port with dessert. 

As you can probably tell the food was amazing, it was all presented wonderfully too. The Service was great - consistent, attentive and friendly - a great combination, they always had us smiling and topped up our drinks without us event noticing.

I loved this experience and would love to come back to Aria for dinner with just my husband as it really is the perfect setting for date night. As I said before, I would never think to come to a hotel restaurant and Aria has definitely changed that for me, I went in expecting a lovely meal and night, and was blown away. 

My favourite meal of the night was the Confit Duck, followed by the Scallops and that Plum Tart - definitely try them!

5 star rating
by Lucyeats
5 months ago

Located in the Crowne Plaza on Albert St, Aria Bar and Restaurant is a fancy hotel restaurant that has kept a cozy, intimate feel. I was lucky enough to be invited to a menu tasting, along with several other food bloggers. We journeyed our way through 11 amazing dishes which left me very satisfied and eager to come back with my husband.

We started off with the house smoked salmon and mushroom salad. The salmon was soft and full of flavour and came with a cauliflower panacotta which I had never tried before. My personal favourite was the mushroom salad which featured very meaty Button, Shiitake and Portebello mushrooms -full of umami!

Our hot entrees consisted of beautifully pan seared scallops and sweet potato tortelloni. The scallops were plump and the french lentils added a nice earthy flavour. I felt that the sweet potato filling somewhat overpowered the light flavour of the burnt butter sauce.

The lamb shanks, after being cooked all day, fell easily off the bone. Paired with some sauteed silverbeet, it made a wonderful main. The crispy duck confit came in a red curry sauce which was creamy and had bursts of fruitiness from the pieces of lychee and pineapple. I found the pork crepinette slightly dry but the potato gnocchi was among the best I've ever had!

I was most impressed with the dessert offerings. The warm Black Doris Plum Tart was perfect for a cold winter night. The creme anglaise balanced out the tartness of the plums and the biscuity pastry had a great texture. The Chocolate Melting Pot was quite rich and was balanced out by the vanilla bean ice cream and fresh blueberries.

My favourite dessert, by far, was the the Hazelnut Dacquoise which was very light and airy. The blackberry sorbet was sweet and the praline added a nice pop to the creamy dessert. 

I had a wonderful time at Aria - the food was nothing short of amazing and the staff were attentive and knowledgable. Thank you very much to Dafne and Frank who organised the tasting!

Visit the blog for a more in depth description of each individual dish.

5 star rating
by Lennie L
5 months ago

Hotel restaurants seem to be underrated, and Crowne Plaza's Aria restaurant wasn't on my radar until I was invited to taste the winter menu.

The meal kicked off to a lovely start with hot smoked salmon served on a creamy cauliflower panacotta. The mushroom salad was a simple dish which I enjoyed but if I ate it alone it would have been underwhelming. The pan seared scallops were cooked perfectly, served with juicy cherry tomatoes and lentils, but these two components lacked flavour. Pork shoulder was wrapped in salty prosciutto and served on a stunningly pink, beetroot risotto. Together, the dish was a delight to the tastebuds, having great flavours and textures. Sweet potato in a tortelloni was a first for me but it won't be the last time. Aria's was smooth and silky, and all the components came together to make a comforting, but classy dish.

Let's cut to the chase with the mains: you need to order the duck confit. It's fun- infused with Asian flavours and served in a red curry. The crispy skin is there and it's a winner. The lamb shank is just what one would expect- falling off the bone and in a rich sauce. No faults, but nothing too special. The pork cutlet was cooked just right, in an aromatic, addictive rub. With the mushrooms, carrots and gnocchi it made a hearty meal. All the mains are generously sized which is fantastic to see- you'll get your money's worth!

Finally, dessert. My recommendation would be the Black Doris Plum tart- stewed plums in a crust that I could eat 100 times over. It's as comforting as your grandmother's best, but kicked up a notch with components such as creme anglaise, toasted pistachio and marscapone. You can't go wrong with the chocolate melting pot if you are that way inclined- but I would have preferred ours to be slightly more under cooked so it was oozier. The hazelnut dacquoise is a thoughtful, moreish slice of nutty deliciousness, balanced out by a refreshing blackberry sorbet.

The service was attentive, polite and efficient- it's what hotels are known for and it was definitely top notch at Aria. By having a spy at the other happy diners around us, I could see that everyone was well looked after. It has a warm, homely vibe that is very relaxed and cosy.

Aria is well and truly on my radar and it should be on yours. I'm going back for more duck and dessert!

5 star rating
by Georgie @ Georgieats
5 months ago

A few nights ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to dine at Aria Restaurant, where we tried 12 different dishes off their new winter menu. I was super excited, not only because I always enjoy a foodie night out, but because I have walked past Crowne Plaza many times, but have never ventured in, so it was a real surprise!

Upon arrival, I first noticed how large the restaurant was. It was fairly quiet for a Wednesday evening, but in a way, it was nice having the restaurant to ourselves! The ambience was warm and inviting and the seating very comfortable.

The new winter menu offers an amazing choice of dishes, from seafood to meat to vegetarian meals. For starters, we were served the following: Hot Smoked Akaroa Salmon with cauliflower and roasted beetroot (a perfect start to the evening); Pan Seared Scallops with braised lentils and cherry tomatoes (the scallops cooked perfectly); Shiitake, Button and Portobello Mushroom Salad (not a huge fan, but my other dining companions loved it); Sweet Potato Tortellini with spinach, burnt butter and shaved parmesan (very flavoursome, especially with the burnt butter); and the Pork and Beetroot Risotto with French goats cheese (my favourite).

All the starters were beautifully presented; hence all the cameras came out at the table (I instantly felt right at home!). I particularly enjoyed the smoked salmon and the pan seared scallops, which were perfectly cooked. However, the pork (wrapped in prosciutto - heaven) was the dish that stood out the most. Sitting on a bed of dark red risotto, it was truly divine. The goats cheese also gave it that extra wow factor - creamy and delicious.

We were then served four mains, which again were all well-presented and included: Confit Duck with roasted pineapple, red curry and basmati rice (the pineapple made it sweet and the curry rich and creamy); Lamb Shanks with cannellini bean puree and silver beet (the lamb was perfectly cooked); Pork Cutlets with mushrooms and potato gnocchi (very tasty and I loved the addition of the gnocchi); and the Pumpkin and Buckwheat Salad with onions, Brazil nuts and cherry tomatoes (I didn't try this dish because I loathe pumpkin, but my other dining companions said it was excellent).

What I liked most about the mains were the excellent portion sizes. For example, it was nice to see two lamb shanks on the plate! Also the meals were quite filling, so well worth the money. My favourite main dish was definitely the lamb shanks - the meat was falling off the bone and it was incredibly tender! I also loved the addition of silver beet, which is not something I see often on a menu.

And last but not least, dessert.

Having heard great things about their Hazelnut Dacquoise (served with salted caramel, chocolate cream, smoked praline and berry sorbet), I was all set on ordering that. However, we ended up trying three desserts. Thank goodness because the Chocolate Melting Pot (made with dark Belgian chocolate) and the Black Doris Plum Tart were melt in your mouth! I couldn't decide on my favourite dessert, but I loved the berry sorbet (as part of the Hazelnut Dacquoise), as well as the Chocolate Melting Pot - oozing with chocolate goodness! I would love to re-create this at home! 

Also highly recommend the Black Doris Tart. I wouldn't normally order something like this off a menu, because, well, it isn't chocolate! However, it had wonderful textures - the plums were juicy, the pistachios gave it nice crunch and the crème anglaise was rich and delicious!

As well as the amazing food, I thought the service was consistently great throughout the whole evening. Our water and wine glasses were always topped up - for the wine, we were always asked politely if we wanted more or not. The waiters were also friendly and I couldn't have asked for better service.

Overall, it was a great dining experience for a hotel restaurant and definitely exceeded my expectations, with perfect company, wine and beautiful dishes. I will definitely be bringing my family and friends here - it was faultless.

5 star rating
by Bri DiMattina
5 months ago

Aria was such a pleasant place to be on such a cold, wet, dark, Auckland winters' night.  

They have their latest winter menu - and it is worth to check out.  Often with the days shorter and cooler, the thought of slow cooked Lamb Shanks - is a little more time and trouble than you can be bothered with....  this is where it falls away from the bone with just gentle encouragement from a fork, cooked to perfection....

Followed by a beautiful selection of winter desserts - Black Doris Plum Tart or Belgian Chocolate Melting pot with blueberries and vanilla bean ice-cream...

I have actually written a piece about Aria's latest menu on my blog - with lots of pictures and descriptions - but a few pictures here will give you the idea of what I am talking about......

5 star rating
by Rebecca MacDonald
5 months ago

Often restaurants in hotels get overlooked, but Aria Restaurant is worth a trip, even if you are not a guest in their hotel.

I was lucky enough to be invited with other food bloggers to come and taste their new winter menu, and it was amazing!

Aria is centrally located on the ground floor of the Crowne Plaza which sits on the top of Atrium on Elliot. The dining room is nice and spaciest, so you don't feel like you are sharing your meal with all the other diners around you. It would also be good for large groups.

We shared all the dishes (which is good because it meant we could try more things) and were served matching wines with each meal!

For starters we had the Smoked Salmon with cauliflower panna cotta, roasted beets, parsley oil and fresh horseradish, Pan seared scallops with braised lentils, cherry tomatoes and red chilli and Mushroom salad with shiitake, button and portobello mushrooms and toasted pine nuts. For this course the Mushroom salad was definitely the winner for me, mushrooms can be done so badly some times so it can be risky thing to order but there is no risk with this dish!

For entrees we had the Sweet Potato Tortelloni with wilted baby spinach, cherry tomatos, burnt butter, caramelized walnuts and shaved parmesan and the Pork and Beetroon Risotto with pork should wrapped in prosciutto and french goats cheese. Surprising for meal the winner here (and probably for the whole meal) was the Tortelloni, the reason I say it was a surprise is because I hardly ever order pasta as a restaurant, especially in an non italian restaurant and I hardly ever order vegetarian, but this dish might change all of that. It was amazing!

For mains we had Confit Duck with Lychee, roasted pineapple, red curry and basmati rice, Lamb Shanks with Cannellini bean puree and sauteed silver beat and Pork Cutlet Crepinette with portobello mushrooms, honey roasted carrots and potato gnoochi. Lamb Shanks is one of my favourite home made dishes and this one was just as good as mum makes, so a definite winner!

Finally for dessert we were spoilt with Hazelnut Dacquoise which was salted caramel, chocolate cream, smoked praline and blackberry sorbet, Chocolate Melting pot which was Dark Belgian chocolate, blueberries, French vanilla bean ice cream and Black Doris Plum Tart which came with creme anglaise, toasted pistachio nuts with mascarpone. It was pretty hard to choose my favourite out of these, but it would have to be the Chocolate Melting pot!

Needless to say I was very pleasantly full at the end of the evening!

5 star rating
by Rebecca Smith
5 months ago

As a student, it is not common for me to dine at fancy hotel restaurants unless it is a very special occasion so I was delighted when I was invited by Aria to try their winter menu. Tucked away on Albert Street in the Crowne Plaza Hotel Aria has a very central location making it perfect for dining before or after an event in town. The dining space is large and is good for groups but has managed to also stay warm and intimate.

We decide to share the entrées but as everything sounded delicious we asked the chef to choose. He suggested the oysters, the smoked salmon, the mushroom salad and the scallops. I love seafood so I was very happy with the choices! The smoked salmon and tempura battered oysters were the standouts dishes for me but all were very tasty. The oysters were served with wakame seaweed, lemon wedges and miso aioli and the flavours all went together fabulously. The tempura was light and crispy and didn’t overpower the flavour of the oyster. The smoked salmon was beautifully presented and was served on top of cauliflower panna cotta (like a thick puree), roasted beetroot and had shards of roasted cauliflower puree (almost like toffee). I am a big fan of pairing beetroot and salmon together and the dish really shows why. I didn’t have much of the mushroom salad as I was the last to try it. The salad consisted of roasted shiitake, button and Portobello mushrooms with pinenuts and pancetta in a cider vinaigrette. It was tasty but was probably my least favourite of the entrées. The scallops were served on top of braised lentils which I thought was an interesting choice. The coral had been removed (the orange part of the scallop) which I think is the best part of the scallop. If you are tossing up between the scallops and the oysters and I would get the oysters as they were 6 oysters but only 3 scallops.

We each ordered our own mains but had a taste of each. For the main I decided to order from the grill where you choose your meat, sauce and two sides. I ordered the Angus beef eye fillet (200g) with green peppercorn sauce, mashed potatoes and garlic butter mushrooms and my dining companions had the Canterbury Lamb rump, lamb shanks and Confit of duck. Out of the four dishes the Confit of duck was my favourite. Deliciously tender with lychee and pineapple in a red curry. My eye fillet was cooked exactly to my specifications (rare) and the sides were delicious. Creamy mashed potatoes and buttery mushrooms are always a good choice with steak. The lamb shank was melt in your mouth tender and fell off the bone as soon as I reached my fork over for a taste.

For dessert I order the Hazelnut Dacquoise which was described as a hazelnut cremeux with salted caramel, chocolate cream, smoked praline and raspberry and pomegranate sorbet. I wasn’t too sure what I was going to get but I love salted caramel (as does everyone I think) and so I had to order it. I did a bit of googling and a dacquoise is a dessert cake with layers of almond and hazelnut meringue and cremeux means creamy. I would describe it as an almost creamy but firm mousse-like cake with a salted caramel centre. The sorbet was intense but delicious and worked well to cut the richness of the dacquoise. I was extremely full by this stage but I had to finish it all. This was a life changing dessert. This Hazelnut Dacquoise is hands down the best thing I have eaten in a very long time. I will 100% be going back to order this. AND it changed the way I think about dining in hotel restaurants. While I can’t really afford to go out and have a three course meal at a fancy restaurant every month I can afford to get dessert and coffee after a play or movie or before a gig.

I had a really fantastic time dining at Aria. The staff were all lovely and extremely helpful and attentive all night. Everything I had from the menu (and I had a lot) was wonderful. I really wasn’t disappointed by any of the dishes and they were cooked well and presented beuatifully. Aria would be an excellent place to go for a special occasion or somewhere to take the Granparents (I’m always looking for Grandparent friendly restaurants). As I said I am coming back for you Hazelnut Dacquoise! And I would really like to try more of the dessert menu too.

5 star rating
by Ariana Omipi @ Ari Eats
5 months ago

I dined here complimentary to try out their new winter menu and it was so delicious! I went with a group of four and we shared entrees. For the main I ordered Canterbury Lamb Rump which was next level delicious. I would recommend ordering from the grill as I feel like anyone and everyone would be satisfied with that option. You get to choose your own sauce + two sides. I went with the cheese platter for dessert and it was throughly enjoyed. Although I didn't like the rice crackers on the platter, the accompaniments of figs, pistachios, red grapes and sliced apple made it such a treat.

Taste: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Value: 4/5

5 star rating
by Samantha Minny
5 months ago

I was invited along to try out the new winter menu at the Aria. I have to say that up market dining is probably my least favourite way to enjoy a meal. I always been very self conscious about the whole thing. But Aria is just not like that at all.
There is a section of seating for a more casual dining experience, tables for a group or intimate tables for two. I liked the decor as the deep reds made the whole place feel warm and inviting and they had a fantastic fire display going on that really brightened the whole room.

I ordered the Canterbury Lamb Rump with mashed potatoes and garlic butter mushrooms and my boyfriend ordered the Scotch Fillet Steak with chips and oven roasted veg. 
I loved my lamb, it was really well cooked and beautifully presented. The mash was creamy and rich and the mushrooms were cooked perfectly. Michael loved his steak and thoroughly enjoyed the fries. He likes them on the crispier side and these catered well for that.
We were presented with three different salts to try with our meal. A paprika salt, a manuka smoked salt and a lime salt. All of them were tasty and something different from the standard.
I don't really drink but I'm sure the staff are fully equipped to recommend a wine choice to complement your dinner. I think I saw one staff member advising another table. Instead I stuck to water. We were offered sparkling or still. I chose sparkling and Michael went for still as well as a beer.
While we're on the topic of staff, they were so friendly! They were attentive and friendly and really wanted to make sure that we enjoyed our dinner. Our waitress was Danielle and she was really knowledgeable about the restaurant, the dishes and any other question I may have had!

For dessert I went for the chocolate melting pot served with vanilla ice cream and blueberries. Michael went for a hazelnut tart that was served with a berry sorbet. I don't eat berries but I absolutely loved my melting pot with the ice cream. Hot and gooey and runny in the middle but crispy and perfect on the top! Michael's hazelnut was beautifully presented and very tasty. Both desserts were very rich (we were warned) but totally worth it!
If you're not into rich desserts then Aria has an extensive cheese platter menu. They recommend about 3 people to a platter and encourage you to order different types of platters for larger groups to have a good variety.

The restaurant is capable of catering to larger groups. They handle tour groups so there's no problem about space and the staff were calm and cool under pressure.
We did have to wait a little while for our food to be delivered so if you're super hungry then perhaps order an entree first. But once you receive your main, it's well worth it!
I would definitely go back for a special occasion like an anniversary or birthday.

5 star rating
by Genie @ BunnyEatsDesign
5 months ago

Hotel restaurants generally have a tricky time convincing locals to dine, but this mindset is slowly changing. Set within the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Aria has no street presence and cannot rely on passing foot traffic. Still, it was busier than I thought it would be on a cold, Saturday night.

We started off with drinks in the bar area. They have a wine list with about 4 wines per category and wine is priced from $11 per glass. They also stock a range of NZ and international beers. There are both seats and leaners in the bar area, depending on your preference. The bar itself is quite small but manages to service everyone.

We moved to the dining area which has a hotel restaurant feel but with furry throw pillows, warm lighting and a gas fire feature, feels very cozy. I also liked that the tables are spaced well apart so we had privacy to converse without other diners listening in.

For starters, we requested the chef to choose dishes for us to share.

We had the tempura battered oysters with wakame (seaweed), lemon wedges and miso aioli. I’ve never had oysters served with wakame before, they go together great. I enjoyed the texture contrast and loved the Japanese twist on a classic.

The smoked salmon dish came with cauli panna cotta (puree) and roasted beets. A tasty, light dish with contrasting textures. The crisp shards of cauliflower were unusual and I couldn’t figure out what they were. We only know they were cauli because our waiter who found out from the chef for us.

The mushroom salad was tasty with earthy flavours, though I was surprised that it included crispy pancetta as I would assume this would be a strong vegetarian option for the menu. I’m not vegetarian (and love pancetta) so not a complaint, though I’m sure they could omit the pancetta on request.

Seared scallops were OK. I’m not a huge fan of lentils but these were palatable. The scallops were tasty enough but there were only 3 scallops on the plate, the rest of the plate was mostly lentils. Personally, I wouldn't recommend this one.

Of the starters, the oysters were my favourite dish and also great value. 6 oysters for $18. I would totally get this one again.

We each ordered our own mains, though I got to taste a little of each of the others. We had 2 dishes from their mains menu and 2 from their popular grill menu.

I ordered the Confit of Duck. Priced at $38 this is up there for what is essentially a red duck curry. The portion of duck is generous (2 duck legs) and the flavours are balanced. I love the combination of rich duck meat and lychee, grapes and pineapple, though I felt it could have done with more heat which would have made the dish taste brighter. A rimmed bowl would have made this easier to eat.

The lamb shank was incredibly tender and fell apart at the sight of a knife. The eye fillet and lamb rump (200 grams each) were both perfectly cooked rare and medium rare to request. All the items from the grill menu come with a choice of 2 sides and a choice of sauce. I liked that the sides and sauce all came separately so you can mix and match or share sides if you like. 

I had the Hazelnut Dacquoise for dessert. This was a Hazelnut Cremeux with salted caramel, chocolate cream, smoked praline and a scoop of an intensely flavoured raspberry and pomegranate sorbet. I am not really a dessert person but this dessert was the highlight of my night. It was seriously good. I would come back just for this dessert. 

On this occasion, we had been invited to try their new winter menu. The menu is quite large and the portions are generous so that you could order just 1 or 2 courses. We were hungry, curious and perhaps a little gluttonous so we ordered 3 courses. We left feeling absolutely stuffed. 

All menu items are clearly marked vegetarian or gluten free making this easy to navigate should you have any special dietary requirements.

The staff were wonderful and humoured all questions. I don’t usually ask so many questions but this visit seemed like a great opportunity to ask about the restaurant and menu and the staff were gracious enough to entertain me with their answers.

I would recommend Aria for a centrally located city restaurant with a quality food where you can find a cozy table without having to wait an hour in the cold. It might not be the coolest spot in town but hard to beat for reliable, accessible food. The staff really look after you here and this would be a great spot for a catch up over a glass of wine and a dessert, perfect after or before a show. In summary, I felt that the entrees and desserts were creative and daring while the main dishes were safe options. As a hotel restaurant, safe choices can be popular for diners far from home and looking for reliably, tasty food, cooked perfectly.

I dined as a guest of Aria.

3 star rating
by Pankaj Kini
6 months ago

This place delivers a mixed bag dining experience!

The restaurant setting is quite nice what you expect from a 4/5 star hotel restaurant. Service was nice owing to some smiling friendly staff but what it lacks is some nice background music which u normally get at a hotel restaurant.

Lets jump straight to the food - I had a chicken caesar salad for entree and it really shouldn't be served as an entree. The portion is ridiculously big and you can have it by itself as a meal. I am a caesar fan and this is the BEST I've ever had - and thats not just for the size but the succulent chicken breast on well dressed cos lettuce amongst the usual.

Unfortunately thats where it stopped cz the eye fillet I had for mains wasn't anything special. It wasn't cooked correctly so had to send it back to get it re-done and when it came back it was dry and tough. Quite a let down for an expensive steak. We decided not to risk it with dessert after mains since three of us had steaks and all three were disappointed.

Although the staff is friendly, the service is quite slow. We waited for a while for mains. Friends who shared breads for entree were very annoyed while I was happy with the time since entree was huge and gave me breathing space. Also the mains are too expensive and doesn't deliver to expectations at all!!

Overall - its not the worst place I've been to but defo not worth a second shot!

P.S. - if you do end up going here pls try the snapper main. I tried a little and it is something I've never had in NZ. I think if that was my main I would have been a much happier diner. Alas!

5 star rating
by Franck Hesse
6 months ago

Been here several times. This place keeps on evolving. Apart from the classic grill the kitchen likes to play around with tastes and presentation. Great healthy choices too.

1 star rating
by Nicole Parker
7 months ago

Bloody Indian receptionist waiter at Aria restaurant & bar rude ass avoid him so rude to me I hope he gets fired what an ******* not a good experience I will never return there again

4 star rating
by PeterMS
Nov 13, 2014

I have stayed at this hotel many times and have often eaten in the restaurant and drunk at the bar.

The bar and restaurant can both get busy, which I consider to be a good sign.

Don't bother with breakfast here as there are much better alternatives nearby, Lunch and dinner are another matter. The food is of a good standard and the service is excellent. If you have one of the group's Pacific Privilege cards the prices are especially good due to the discount.

5 star rating
by Mark Gregory
Jun 25, 2010

dined recently and was commpletey surprised by how beautiful the restaurant looked and the menu - no used to dining in hotels, this was more like a normal everyday restaurant and all the better for it.

Lovely food, wine as always New Zealand led list with lots of favourites included.

Service was fabulous!

If you get the chance go!

3 star rating
by Peter Garelja
Jan 11, 2010

We eat here whenever we stay at The Crowne Plaza as the food and service here is reliably good. What's especially attractive is that here we can use our Pacific Privilege card which enables one of us to get their meal free. The food especially off the a la carte menu for lunch and dinner is of good quality. The buffet breakfast is adequate, but consists unexciting standard fare If it wasn't for the discount I would consider the prices to be on the expensive side. The standard of service is professional and solicitous.