Review: Tin Soldier
Shared plates are the thing to do these days, with most new establishments in Auckland taking this approach when designing their menus.
Think Depot, Cocoro, Café Hanoi, Moo Chow Chow and Ponsonby Rd's relative newcomer Tin Soldier.
I'll be honest, I don't like the idea of sharing. It brings so many variables to the dining out experience; if one person is a fussy eater it can change the entire evening. That being said, my company and I were like-minded in our eating habits and up for trying things that might be a bit different.
Tin Soldier's menu is split between small and large plates with some oyster options and cheeseboards chucked in for good measure.
It's best to attack this like a normal restaurant, the small plates your entrée and the large plates your main. The only difference here is you share everything.
Our waiter was brilliant, he explained that the dishes would arrive at the table as soon as they were ready and wouldn't all come out together. After we made our selections complimentary sourdough rolls were bought to the table fresh from the oven, a nice touch.
Shortly after, plates started to arrive from the kitchen. First up were the fish pies and mac'n'cheese and this was no ordinary mac'n'cheese.
Free range bacon and sweet onion along with the addition of small bits of black pudding in the crumb made for a tasty dish, a bit on the salty side but perfectly edible nonetheless.
The fish pies were served as individual portions much like a stuffed baby potato. The bite sized morsels were great, with silky-smooth potato puree and fresh smoked Terakihi.
Our lamb hotdogs and chicken wings turned up just as we polished off the first couple of plates. These two were much like snacks you would eat watching the game with the added extra of homemade ketchup with the hotdogs and wasabi mayo with the spicy wings.
First up in our larger selections was the soy glazed pig cheek. Cheeks are something popping up on menus all over the show and I for one was very excited to try them. I was not let down. The melt in your mouth meat was incredible and perfectly complemented by carrot puree, bok choy and shitake. The puffed skin was an interesting side, with the texture of a prawn cracker, but the flavour of everyone's favourite crackling.
The next three plates had some big boots to fill. The sirloin was cooked to perfection and baby beets and horseradish worked beautifully with the steak. The crispy skin Terakihi was as described; crispy and fresh. The duck was a triumph, again served with some incredibly silky potatoes. Whoever was on mash and puree duty that night needs a medal.
Our downfall was possibly ordering our large plates at the same time as the small plates. A break would have been nice in the middle but the large dishes started to arrive just as the small ones were demolished. We won't make the same mistake upon return.
We had eaten our way through eight plates and it seemed a shame to not indulge our sweet tooth. I had heard great things about the 'Tastes of Milo' dessert so it was promptly ordered along with some S'mores. The S'more was passable but a bit of a non-event next to the incredible churros that accompanied the Milo plate. Milk sorbet with coconut snow, malt and ginger nut provided something delicious to dip the Spanish donuts in.
Tin Soldier was a great experience, the food was superb, the atmosphere was great and I will definitely be returning... with some carefully selected companions, of course.