Great proximity to pretty much everywhere, late afternoon sun and attractive views of the Sky Tower are all reasons Victoria Park is a favourite watering hole destination for Aucklanders. The best part is there's no shortage of places to try at this historically significant site. A solid option, especially during the warmer months, is Tom Tom Bar & Eatery, a classy gastropub nestled in between La Zeppa and Atico Cocina and above Victoria Park.
The first thing you'll notice about this joint is it's big. Big enough for a generous indoor dining and bar area and a positively huge outdoor deck complete with a private function area down one end. The fit out of this heritage building has been done well - respecting its industrial roots but modernising the space with contemporary touches resulting in a polished, sleek establishment.
If, like us, you plan to try Tom Tom on a sunny Friday evening you're likely to find the place absolutely pumping. The odds of finding a seat outside aren't great - their giant deck dotted with dozens of tables and white Asahi umbrellas appears to be Victoria Park's worst kept secret. Fortunately though the patrons here are friendly enough and we were welcome to cosy in on the end of a half full table.
The wine list here, like the deck, is pretty sizable with an emphasis on Kiwi wines with some internationals thrown in there for good measure. With plenty of options we can forgive them for being out of the Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc I was after - a glass of Waipara's Main Divide '12 was an excellent alternative. There were plenty of craft beers on offer and any bar that has Asahi on tap (and in the batter for their fish and chips) gets a big tick in our books.
Considering how busy the place was I was impressed by how attentive the wait staff were. Ordering a second drink and a couple of bites from the comfort of the sunny deck was no trouble at all. We were after a snack but there is plenty on the menu to suck you in for a full blown dinner - from small and raw plates to large plates, mains, cheeses and desserts. The menu, reassuringly, is everything you'd expect from an upmarket gastropub - classics such as scotch steak ($25) and pork belly ($15), done a just a little bit fancy. We went for the breads and dips ($12) which came with whipped butter, balsamic and an outstanding smoked white bean dip and the Clevedon Coast oysters which we had battered (delightfully fresh and crisp) with lemon mayo ($19.5 for 1/2 doz, $37 doz).
After a particularly hectic day, the combination of a chilled glass of Sauv, crispy battered oysters and the golden late afternoon sunshine absolutely hit the spot. With this sort of experience on offer, it's not a wonder Tom Tom is quickly becoming a popular summertime hangout.