Tin Soldier – one of Ponsonby’s newest venue – is a causal eatery that brings a new approach to modern dining. With dishes that are designed for sharing, they offer assorted small and large plates served from their open kitchen and a bar that has a good range of New Zealand craft beer as well as an extensive list of international wine.
We ordered two dishes from their ‘Small Plates’ list – the beer-battered mussel version of the Soldier Boy Jammers and chunky fries with a side of garlic aioli. Our version of jammers (aka sliders) has a combination of hot and crispy mussel, iceberg lettuce and tartare sauce and it was surprisingly small for $16. Although the taste was good, I had expected something a little more special. The same can be said with the chunky fries as the roasted garlic aioli was mediocre. We only ordered one large dish and that was a seared medium rare sirloin steak with wild mushrooms, garlic and truffle. The steak was moist and perfectly cooked and the various accompaniments was perfect when combined with the steak. The creamy truffle cream with the roasted garlic cloves and the crispy artichoke chips coordinated well with the juicy steak and added different textures in each bite.
They also have a selection of desserts for anyone with a sweet tooth. We decided to get the more interesting options and ordered the s’mores and flavours of Milo. It’s my first time encountering s’mores at an eatery so I was curious how they would execute it. The s’mores has a combination of rich chocolate ganache, cinnamon and a thick layer of gooey marshmallow, sandwiched in between graham crackers and dusted with almond praline. It is extremely indulgent and sweet (as you would expect) but the cracker was slightly hard to bite through. The flavours of Milo was surprisingly good as I’m not a big fan of Milo (but a favourite for my partner). It incorporates coconut ice cream, pieces of ginger nut biscuits, malt foam, and chunks of Milo and this was neatly served in an adorable tin mug with a side of churros that were lightly dusted with cinnamon sugar. The taste of Milo was evident but not overwhelming and it was delightful!
Overall, Tin Soldier is a decent eatery and the menu style is comparable to Depot on Federal Street. I would have preferred bigger portions (considering the price) but taste-wise, the food was up to standard. The bistro was packed when we dined on a Saturday night so I would recommend that you book ahead if you want to give this place a try, and remember to save room for dessert!
Date: Saturday 1st September, 2012 | Location: 151 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby | Food: Contemporary NZ Cuisine / Bistro