Review: Tom-Tom, Auckland CBD

By John Gardner

Address:27 Drake St, Victoria Park Market, Auckland
Phone: (09) 377 5737
Rating out of 10: Food: 7, Service: 8, Value: 7, Ambience: 7

Grilled Game Fish (King Fish) with Green Olive, Capsicum Gel, Wild Rocket, Sweet Onion and Garlic Baby Potato. Photo / NZH
Grilled Game Fish (King Fish) with Green Olive, Capsicum Gel, Wild Rocket, Sweet Onion and Garlic Baby Potato. Photo / NZH

Retirement villages, childcare centres and, inevitably, property are the big growth industries in Auckland and it seems eateries must be added to that list. Wynyard Wharf, Britomart and the new Victoria Park centre are all home to new establishments, with Drake St alone hosting La Zeppa, Libertine, Atico Cocina and now Tom-Tom.

This is all good news, with the choices for the eating and drinking punter growing by the week. But there is a downside. The law of supply and demand comes into play and the pool of experienced staff is showing signs of being distinctly shallow. A glance at the comments on various foodie websites consistently shows that poor service is the main blight of the eating out experience and our visit to Tom-Tom was a case in point.

This is a very professionally set-up establishment, well designed with great attention to detail and highlighted by a huge, attractive deck facing Victoria Park. But the service does not match. It was never impolite nor with a bad attitude - just clumsy, less than well-trained and ill-informed about what was on offer.

And what was on offer also seemed a little confused. This is a bar as much as an eatery but the food is a bit more elaborate and expensive than mere fuel to mop up the booze but not what you would expect at a dedicated restaurant.

That said, one of our party of four declared delight with each course she ate and the rest of us had at least one dish we enjoyed.

Tom-Tom certainly has a top-class oyster supplier and we all took advantage of the offer to share from the person who ordered them.

The market fish starter of hapuku with smoked garlic, white beans, chorizo, squid ink and baby cress was a winner and I enjoyed the subtle flavour of my clam broth with a bacon hock, tomato base and slices of mussel.

The beetroot carpaccio was more imaginative than usual with pomegranate seeds and a raspberry dressing but, in common with some of the other dishes, there wasn't a lot of it.

We were warned that the sous vide deep-sea fish was not substantial and might need a side dish and that proved correct.

The fish, with preserved lemon and kale, was judged less than outstanding and I retain my prejudice that this cooking method doesn't really suit fish but, oddly, the little apple, watercress and rocket salad was lovely.

The sous vide technique was also in evidence in one of our starters. The beef tri tip's good massaman sauce and peanut and herb salad was not quite enough to last the course with the solid slab of beef. This was followed by a routine seafood chowder which was felt not to justify its place as a main dish.

The focus here seems to be on the seafood, which is good, but my sirloin was disappointing. Our diner who was universally pleased capped off her evening with great enthusiasm over the hot chocolate pudding served with a little beer icecream and cherries. There was a more subdued welcome for the trifle: "Just a bit of compote with sponge," was the slightly sniffy judgment.

Two of us shared a Whitestone cheeseboard, which came in at $40. The cheeses were mostly in good condition but the crackers were less than crisp and the rolls dull.

We left not unhappy, for the atmosphere was cheerful enough but, in a competitive environment, Tom-Tom will need to up its game.

Our meal: $353 for a dozen oysters, four starters, three mains, one side salad, two desserts, cheeseboard, two beers and a bottle of wine.

Our wine: This is a bar and the liquor list is suitably large, with a decent selection by the glass at reasonable prices. We enjoyed a medium-sweet Mt Edward Wanaka Road Central Otago riesling.

Verdict: Great setting for a summer evening drink but whether you are happy with your eating may be a matter of chance.

Tom-Tom has introduced its new summer menu since our reviewer's visit.

- NZ Herald

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