It’s long been a goal of mine to dine at the Four Seasons – the restaurant run by AUT hospitality majors – and I’m proud to say, I can finally tick that off my list!
To be precise, we visited Piko, which serves exactly the same menu and is right next door to the Four Seasons, but is a separate establishment in itself. I’m not sure what, if any, the point of having two identical-yet-not restaurants is, but it seemed to me like the Four Seasons offered a slightly more upmarket dining experience with lusher décor and more seating. Eating at Piko, on the other hand, made us feel a little like goldfish in a bowl. The lighting was very bright, without actually being harsh, and the stereo system that night was broken – the silence made us feel like we were constantly being watched by the staff.
Add to this the fact that there was one waitperson PER TABLE, ready to leap to our assistance at the twitch of a finger. – and did I mention that our waitress initially told us we were in the wrong place and should be next door at the Four Seasons? Luckily, instead of complying right away, I asked if she could check with them directly – after all, isn’t that kind of their job? Turns out we were definitely booked in at Piko and another couple were ushered away. To her credit, though, she did apologise profusely.
My prawn entrée was beautifully presented, although removal of the tails would have been nice. The boy enjoyed the smoked duck breast and his main (the pork belly) was accompanied, among other things, by two delightfully soft, pillowy steamed buns – he described the plate as essentially being a deconstructed pork bun. Meanwhile, the crab croquette which accompanied my pan-roasted fish was divine – bursting with flavour inside a crispy skin. Our portions were generous without being overwhelming, and we left with both stomachs and wallets satisfied.
On the dessert and beverage front, Piko didn’t quite deliver. The drinks menu was fairly limited, even more so on that particular night as the beer tap was broken. Although the mousse hit just the right balance of chocolate and coffee, the strudel was small and anaemic and we both failed to taste any hint of coconut in the coconut cream.
But on the whole, Piko held its own, with attentive service and appetising food. At $30 per person, it’s great value for money, and you’ll be supporting AUT students to boot. But make sure you book – we were lucky to get a table on a Monday, of all nights.
(Yes, I know there are no photos! I can’t for the life of me get them off my phone – it has no USB cord and the only way to retrieve them is to send them to an email account. But despite my best efforts, it’s refusing to cooperate on that front.)