Walking in, we saw Chef Alastair McLeod doing some last minute something or other on his laptop at one of the outside tables, before service started. This gives you an indicator that space is at a premium in the long, narrow restaurant but contrary to other's comments, I didn't feel crowded in or too close to the other tables. Alastair sauntered into the kitchen, we sauntered to our table and the evening commenced.
The menu is modern European with a Japanese bent but happily, it was East or West rather than Fusion. There was plenty to choose from so we ordered the Lotus Root Chips with Wakame & Tea Glazed Walnuts to nibble on whilst we selected the rest our meal. Served warm with a sprinkle of something spicy, they were Deee-Licious! Walnuts must be very de rigeur as I had them at Golden Fields too. Wine and food ordered, there was nothing to do other than sit back and enjoy the surrounds, vaguely reminiscent of my parent's dining room circa 1970 with Scandinavian blonde wood chairs and if I'm not mistaken, an inlaid vinyl table top.
My entree was the much talked about Crisp & Smoked Duck with Goat's Cheese Cigar. It was certainly spectacular, arriving at the table with an upturned glass on the plate, trapping a smoky mist. Once lifted, the mist evaporated to reveal the fanned duck breast. Very theatrical. I was hungry and gobbled it up a little to quickly to really appreciate it but none the less, it was very tasty if not smoky enough for me.
Sweetcorn & Shitake Fritters with Almond Cream were a popular order for the table 3 servings of various sizes ordered. The dish looked lovely with nasturtium leaves scattered over peeled, chilled cherry tomatos and a small cube of tofu coated in black and white sesame seeds. The fritters were nestled in the salad leaves. I dream of one day making the perfect zucchini or corn fritter so these hot, crispy numbers filled the void in the mean time. I regret not ordering the larger serve. One thing though - the fritters and salad were served in a high sided bowl which made it extremely difficult to get the knife and fork in. I had my shoulders near my ears and my elbows sticking out like chicken wings. Perhaps the bowl used for the main size serve would be a better option in future - Alastair, please consider.
Our friend had the mega Sushi & Sashimi Plate with the usual variety of fresh fish, some soba noodles and all manner of exotic garnish. It looked super fresh but a look was as close as any of us got because he polished it all off by himself. Anthony had the Wagyu Salted Beef with Mushroom Ragu. It was a generous portion and as we had been advised when ordering, was similar to corned beef. It tasted fine and I love corned beef but I think if you're going to spend the money on a piece of Wagyu, it needs to taste remarkably different to a dinner your parent's served in that 70's dining room. Certainly enjoyable but I would suggest an alternate selection for your $40.
For dessert is was Nashi Pear Cheesecake Crumble - as delicious as it sounds. Not a wedge of cheesecake but small swirls piped on the plate accompanied by poached rhubarb and vanilla ice cream. I had a little taste of the Toasted Sesame Ice Cream on the Hot Chocolate Pudding (another generous serve) and would love to try a bowl of it on it's own. The mysterious 'Cup of Green Tea' dessert will have to wait until another time.
I'm not quite sure why the reviews are so mixed for Tank. All in all, I had a great night. Good company, attentive service, ambient surroundings, fresh and vibrant food. If only Alastair wouldn't frown so much whilst he's working in the kitchen! If only my dim, hazy photos reflected the true zen beauty of the dishes! For four people with 2 bottles of wine + a generous tip, it was a shade under $400 and worth every penny.
North Quarter Lane
31 Tank St
Visited: Sat 13 Aug11 - Dinner Service