Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: Bowmans in Mount Eden

The girlfriend and I had a top shelf date night at Bowmans [sic] in Mt Eden on Friday. I don't know much about the history of Bowmans or how they lost their apostrophe, but what I have picked up is that the restaurant is not necessarily hugely in fashion right now. That would explain the several empty tables, and their audio choice of The Best Classical Album in the World … Ever! which, when we arrived, was up to the part where Amici Forever sing 'Unchained Melody' – the perfect soundtrack, really, to a spot of air pottery and a good geez at the wine list.

Oh well, at least it was an improvement on what you have to put up with at some places. Why do chefs who spend so much time and energy perfecting what you see, smell, feel and taste apparently seem quite happy to assault your ears with Lazy Sunday on loop from 6pm until close? Hearing DJ St Germain doesn't remind you of Paris, it reminds you of last time you were here at this godawful restaurant, cursing loudly because you've caught yourself humming along to All Saints singing that theme song from 'The Beach'.

The wait staff all seemed quite new but it didn't really matter; I'd previously come across the maitre d' when he was running The Elbow Room in Herne Bay, and he was excellent there as he is at Bowman's: friendly, knowledgeable and with pride in his job. Our waitress got stuck on a second choice wine match for my entree so she had a crack then went and checked with the chef, who overruled her. That's all fine with me; how much more confident do you feel drinking a glass of wine that the chef has insisted upon? Above all, she was keen to please, and I reckon that's 80% of the job.

And the food was super – imaginative on the plate, fresh, clean and tasty. I had slivers of raw tuna wrapped around king crab for an entree (with a Patutahi Gewurz) and my girlfriend had cocoa rubbed ostrich, a dish title I strangely find hard to relay without picturing a live ostrich being massaged with cocoa powder in the days leading up to its demise. It was all spectacular, really no complaints apart from a lime sorbet which came with the tuna/crab – she found it too icy cold, I found it too sweet and my friend Marie who visited recently found it too tart. So maybe three different ways of saying it doesn't quite work.

For my main I had a duck breast perfectly cooked with parsnip whip and a pomegranate reduction which my girlfriend reckoned was one of the best mains she'd ever tasted. She had fish or something, it was good … blah blah blah for some reason I always get bored at this part of the review where people list verbatim what everybody at their table ate.

So good on you Bowman's, awesome service, brilliant food, generic-superlative wine and a musical soundtrack which proved a tour de force of television car advertisements from the 1990s. We left feeling full and quite keen on buying a new Nissan Pulsar.