Last Thursday night Marc and I made a movie date to see American Sniper. No fun outing is complete without food so I started brainstorming dinner options. I had porked out on 2 caramel cookies for 'breakfast' and I insisted we have a light meal. Then I remembered that Tomahawk had opened in Southbank so I told Marc "that's where we're going". He looked at the menu, with its contents of burgers and fries and beer, and questioned the lightness of my choice but didn't actively try and persuade me otherwise.
We were reassured over e-mail that no bookings are necessary and there were indeed plenty of seats available. We took up a table outside to enjoy the mild weather. Because we'd looked at the menu earlier, we knew exactly what we wanted to order.
What was a bit more challenging was the beer. There were so many to choose from! Tomahawk does give you recommended pairings with each food order but we found those beers to be too expensive. I like beer but I don't like it enough to appreciate an $18 glass. Marc ended up selected a pale ale and golden ale on tap and whilst we are a bit hazy on what we consumed, they were very nice beers.
American style cheeseburger - grilled beef patty, melted cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion, topped with tomato sauce and American mustard, on seeded sesame bun
For food, Marc and I fought over who could order the cheeseburger. He ended up claiming it but I got to sample some. It was a juicy and flavoursome cheeseburger but not as life changing as the one from The Burrow and not as addictive as Ben's Burgers. The bread wasn't brioche, which is a turn off for me.
Marc added fries on the side for us to share. These were pretty good but so similar to McDonald's fries that they also didn't stand out. Don't get me wrong, freshly cooked Maccas fries are bloody awesome, but at a restaurant I expect something extra or different.
Popcorn chicken - herb and garlic marinated fried chicken pieces with salted caramel dipping sauce and wedge of lemon
What did blow my mind was the popcorn chicken. I'd read about it in all the online reviews of Tomahawk so I knew it was something we had to try. The chicken itself was small, boneless pieces with a crunchy herb batter. The innovation came with the dipping sauce. I never imagined caramel dipping sauce to work with chicken but boy, it works. This is the new maple sauce and bacon. Caramel and popcorn chicken is greater than the sum of the parts. I think the key here is the thyme/rosemary elements in the chicken batter which really complimented the caramel and brought the sweet and savoury notes together harmoniously.
Grain salad - toasted cara wheat and pearl barley tossed together with goats cheese, mixed salad greens, pickled red cabbage and corn salsa, finished with light dijon vinaigrette
My own main order reflects my attempt to stay as light as possible. Who orders salad at an American style diner? I did! It actually wasn't as fail as I might have expected. Sure I would have preferred a burger or something else carby and fatty but the salad was fresh, full of components and very flavoursome. I'm a sucker for goats cheese and they had it in abundance here.
Tomahawk provides a fun new addition to the Southbank Parkland dining scene. The menu contains beer-pairing classics with a twist to keep it interesting and modern. I'm sure the beverage menu will be exciting for all hop enthusiasts. We found the prices to be very reasonable too (ahem unlike Southside Diner).