Because it's just turned 50, SkyCity's Lunar Orbiter is entitled to a spot on our Favorite Dishes list. But even if the iconic dessert wasn't celebrating a golden anniversary, it would still qualify for favorite status.
The famous dessert is the only World's Fair holdover on a very au courant menu, which currently includes lamb dumplings and braised young artichokes with Holmquist hazelnuts. For an entree, SkyCity diners now have their pick of line-caught halibut in dandelion broth or agnolotti with pickled ramps. There's an array of dessert choices, too, but not a single good reason for ordering anything other than the spectacular Orbiter.
Is "spectacular" too strong a word to lay on a scoop of ordinary ice cream surrounded by dry ice? SkyCity has tried to give its eldest statesman a bit of locavore panache by touting its use of "local, gourmet ice creams," "domestic and imported syrups" and "fresh, sliced fruit," but it's still just a kiddie dessert in a bowl.
If anyone at your table should mount that argument, it's probably best you don't let him talk to your kids about Santa Claus. The cascading smoke that swells around the Orbiter's serving dish is a bewitching link to an age when rational people believed we'd soon trade cars for hovercrafts and contemplate relocating to Mars. As the Space Needle's website trills, it's "an atomic explosion in reverse!" Be honest: When's the last time you dined at a restaurant which used the specter of nuclear warfare to sell ice cream? That's absolutely spectacular.