Ah yes, Mr Toms – within a week of opening they became another go-to place in Ponsonby. Although it's guaranteed to have a full house of Ponsonbians sitting on their outdoor tables, it seems their kitchen is kept a secret. Past the warm and sunlit Mr. Toms that you all know, heading down a small flight of stairs and through the big black framed sliding door lies The Kitchen by Mr Toms. It's private, romantic and a touch more serious (about food) than those who are in search of many a tipple.
Last time I was here, there was no door separating the hungry food-seekers from the jolly imbibers. However, I still opted for a quiet table downstairs where I eavesdropped on a very awkward and mildly amusing Tinder (first) date. It's clearly the place to impress a woman from a dating app – seriously. It's intimate, but not too much; comfortable, but has standards; dim lighting, but enough to read the other's facial expressions; and pretty decked out without appearing hoity toity. It's the perfectly balanced establishment for a date – you're chilled out but you still want to treat her to somewhere nice without annihilating your grocery budget.
This time round, there were no dates to judge like a terribly good reality TV show. It was just myself and my fresh-off-the-London-boat friend, until suddenly, the whole room was packed with diners. First off, if you're in to share some nibbles, opt for the Kitchen set menu ($59) which involves a three-course meal of your choice consisting of an entrée, main and a dessert. Most places will require every diner per table to go by the set menu but here, you're free from those annoying restrictions.
We had the chef's favourite entrée of choice as told by our lovely waitress with the killer eyeliner: the braised beef short rib with smoked potato, pickled cabbage and sunchoke ($17). The first mouthful was an explosion of intense flavour. The meat fell off the bone and melted in my mouth. After inhaling this within 20 seconds, we patiently waited for the main. (Why do women only order small portions to share when they obviously need the whole damn thing? I don't even understand myself sometimes.)
The pork cheek was accompanied with some scallops, cassava, baby carrots, thin chip-cut apples and spiced jus ($33). After tasting this, we realised that The Kitchen definitely doesn't do bland nor do they agree with the concept of chewing. The meat was so tender, we didn't even use a knife and we didn't need to chew that much. Finally, dessert! Though I may have fooled you with a chronologically described meal, in actual fact, the dessert came first – a Lewis Road Creamery Espresso Martini made with house infused vanilla vodka, crème de cacao, Lewis Road Creamery 'Double Caramel' and Atomic coffee ($18). Tis a great drink to start your fresh Saturday night palate and finish off with a seriously refreshing Bouncing Czech Pilsner ($10).