Dishes lacking wow factor

Zoe's at the Kingsgate
110 Fitzherbert Ave,
Palmerston North
Phone 3568059

Open: 6.30am to 10am; 6pm until late.
Mains range up to $28.50.
Reviewed by Lisa Durrant.

The first thing we noticed about Zoe's after being seated was the large flat-screen television hanging on the wall with muted rugby playing – not what we expected on a Sunday evening in a restaurant like this.

There was a good number of diners in the restaurant, with many probably hotel guests. The surroundings reflected the impersonal hotel location, but were pleasant enough.

To start our meal, we decided to share entrees of smoked eel pate and garlic and herb hummus, as this provided some variety. Both were presented nicely on wooden boards, with the pate in an attractive rounded glass.

Served with melba toast, the pate was very smooth, more like a butter than pate, but lacking in flavour. The accompanying chargrilled vegetable relish gave the pate the flavour burst it needed.

The hummus had a lovely texture, but the garlic overwhelmed any herbs. Perhaps a good squeeze of lemon juice would have helped. Again, the accompaniment, in this case pickled vegetables, helped save the dish from being too bland.

For my main, I chose cider-infused pork medallions, served on a baked herb polenta, accompanied by spiced apple and sultana glaze and seasoned greens. This sounded appealing, but didn't quite live up to expectations with the pork overcooked and a little dry, and in need of seasoning, as was the polenta.

The spiced apple and sultana glaze was lovely and an excellent match for the pork. It would have been good if there had been more of it. The seasoned greens consisted of two small skinny pieces of broccoli.

My friend's sirloin was cooked exactly as requested, however, we were mystified about the caraway seed and ricotta crumble on top. It was the strangest thing, similar to a stuffing that was undercooked in some places but overdone in others. While the caraway flavour was in evidence, there was no sign of the ricotta. The dish would have been better without the crumble. In fact, my friend didn't eat it.

Again, there was a lack of seasoning and the dish could have done with more sauce.

Desserts were limited to a selection of four plus a cheeseboard. We chose to share a cheeseboard and chocolate trio – a black forest steam pudding with chocolate sauce and chocolate icecream.

The cheeseboard was generous, having three good-sized slices of Kapiti cheeses accompanied by crackers, quince paste, dried apricots and grapes. The apricots and grapes had been cut into little pieces, an unusual presentation.

The steam pudding was dryish and needed more sauce, though the icecream helped redeem this. Considering this was described as a black forest steam pudding, there was a distinct lack of cherries – I only found half of one in nearly the last mouthful!

Choosing wines to accompany our meals held no excitement, as Zoe's wine list is pedestrian, though there is a good number available by the glass. Just don't expect any bargains if you're buying a bottle.

Manawatu Standard