We worked not even six months together in the end before Mark's time was up and he had to head back to the UK. It was at this point that we both realised that we had fallen for each other big time and that despite the fact a long distance relationship was a big ask, we were prepared to give it a go.
So when we thought about a last hurrah couples night out in Wellington, we could think of no more fitting place to go than Hippopotamus - the acclaimed restaurant that is now part of the Museum Hotel.
We knew the owner Chris Parkin well back in the day when working there, and even back then he had grand visions for what he wanted the hotel to become. Although it took some years to get there, I'd say looking around he has more than achieved that dream now.
The hotel is sumptuous and eclectic, sprinkled with very unique works of art all around the lobby and throughout the hotel. Hippopotamus has been a Cuisine magazine finalist of the year and with their experienced French chef and attentive waiting staff, it is certainly a cut above the rest in terms of even some of the nicer restaurants in Wellington.
We had thought of doing the degustation menu but with Mark not a big fan of seafood and my tummy doing who knows what?! we thought it might be safer to eat off the a-la-carte menu.
From the moment we arrived, we felt as if we were the most important people in the place. With super attentive waiting staff who explained everything to us and also brought out some superb complimentary aperitif choices to clean the palate in between our courses.
So without further ado, let me introduce you to the most delectable food we have ever set our eyes and bellies on.
Duck liver parfait with caramelised onion sablé, baby poached pear, duck ham, mulled wine
My main (an adventurous choice but it all tasted A.M.A.Z.I.N.G:
Deboned rack of lamb, confit lamb neck, sautéed sweetbread, tempura brain, Berbere flavoured labneh yoghurt and harissa sauce
Silver Fern Reserve eye fillet, beef cheek cannelloni, garlic cream, glazed short rib, sautéed bone marrow and cèpes jus with truffled creamed potato
My dessert (even that striped disc was made of edible chocolate!)
Kalamansi and vanilla mousse, raspberry and dark chocolate crémeux, raspberry sorbet and coulis
Mark's dessert (the most spectacular specimen of a creme brûlée)
Crème brûlée served with rhubarb financier and lime sorbet
It was a super special night out. I almost can't believe we've never been here before but in some ways I'm glad we saved the best till last. It's an occasion that will linger on in our memories long past the moment when we no longer call this fabulous city home.