Level 7 52 Tyler St, Britomart, Auckland
(09) 302 9886
Rating out of 10:
Food: 7 Service: 7 Value: 7 Ambience: 6
$173.60 for two.
On a sunny day, I imagine Seven is fabulous. Late at night, I imagine Seven is fabulous. At 6.30pm on an inclement Tuesday, it was like eating in a tent.
When I say tent, I don't mean one of those super-cute Lotus Belle things you might erect at a three-day yoga retreat. I mean one of those green and white canvas behemoths you might remember from primary school camps, assuming you were born when kids had camps and not Learning Experiences Outside the Classroom.
The rooftop of the Seafarers Club used to be a private members' space. Now it's home to Seven, which means any old critic can slide on in, past its canvas-sailed entranceway.
Okay, maybe it was more like eating in a caravan than a tent.
When the club opened in 2014, this area - with its harbour views and indoor-outdoor flow - was billed as resort-like and "a bit more playful" than the lower levels. Seven's menu maintains that lively ethos, but the ambience is flat. Pink fluoro lighting and slatted patio tables say tired, not St Tropez.
Lift your spirits with a cocktail ($16) and ask yourself: does it get more Auckland than a salted coconut espresso martini? "Coconut-something-something-douche?" suggested Erica. But then she stopped talking because her tamarind whiskey was a sour-sweet breathtaker. The drinks are superbly mixed, and completely moreish.
Our waitperson recommended the popcorn shrimp ($16) and it was an exemplar in its class - the ratio of meat to coating favoured the meat, the coating crunched and the basil leaves lent elegance not normally seen in a battered bar snack.
According to the website, Fred Wong of Ebisu and Azabu fame is "at the reins" here. Based on previously fabulous experiences with his food, we were always going to order the dumplings ($18-$20 a plate).
Tortellini-style packages of spinach, tofu and oyster mushroom came with dabs of ginger-infused soy and spikes of fresh-cut ginger. They gleamed with good health - delicate nourishment for the stomach and soul.
The cucumber shiitake pickles ($8) were also very good - a sweetly lip-puckering foil to the fried shrimp. If you're after high-quality drinks and snacks, Seven is up there. I'm just not convinced it goes the full dinner distance.
I really wanted the toothfish cheek because; (a) I've never eaten toothfish before and (b) I thought eating it was eco-terrorism. Forest and Bird urges caution, but across the Tasman, assuming it has come from one of three monitored fisheries, it's listed as a "better choice".
How did my guilt taste? Think expensive monkfish or cheap crayfish. The meat was dense and sweet (and maybe didn't need the miso glaze) and the $28 portion was sizeable.
We'd eaten the pork belly duo ($30) before it arrived, ordering it purely on the strength of how it looked en route to another table. The crackle cracked and the meat melted, but probably we should have saved some pickles for extra cut-through.
Seven does dessert, but we'd hit a sweet-enough spot, thanks, due to the liberal deployment of miso-soy-hoisin.
I finished with a refreshing Penang punch. Across the table, another glass of wine - a large pour to make up for the moment the waitperson had knocked over a glass that was still one-third full. She ran for a cloth and I didn't understand her frantic haste, until I realised the wine was going to start dripping between those picnic table slats.
We were definitely not dressed for camping.