August 20, 2012 by eatfreak
Judging by the hoards of people cramming through the doors, it looks as if The Norfolk is the place to be on a Tuesday night. $3 tacos (usually $5.50) are a pretty attractive offer in the world of pub fare. With seating spread over 2.5 split levels, the bar, and a beer garden, the staff sure do have their work cut out for them. It’s a mish mash crowd, with all types dining there on this particular Tuesday – a young mum with two kids under the age of 3 (we thought that rather brave given the organized chaos around us), some ‘ ye ole folk’, young professionals, your average joe blows, and your cool kid hipsters…all in all, pretty diverse bunch.
Straight to the bar for drinks (stock standard rose and an Asahi beer… usual pricing, nothing exciting to report here) and then some strategic waiting placement in order to pounce on a highly-sought after table. With ninja-like stealth (it can help being short sometimes) I managed to nab a high corner table. The menu is without doubt of Tex-Mex inspiration, which is no problem for the Eat Freaks given it’s in our Top 7 cuisines (leaning towards the Mex part).
We thought it fair to order one (in some cases two) of every taco. Except the vegetarian… we didn’t think it counted. And because the other Eat Freak thought we wouldn’t be full, we threw in a bowl of chilli fries for good measure. Despite the crowd and hundreds of tacos that must be ordered on any given Tuesday, this is a well-oiled machine and our meal probably took 15 minutes max to arrive. As you can see from the photos, it was a pretty ample spread…a mass fiesta of tacos.
I went straight for the duck as I was motivated by my last delicious duck experience. Unfortunately, this one wasn’t. The duck itself was in small bits and seemed to have been deep fried and was covered in an overpowering sickly sweet sauce. Eat Freak #2 described it as an ‘Asian takeaway in a taco’… I think he was being generous.
The fish was… um, pleasant?! It did lack kick and was slightly on the colder side, but I found it light and agreeable, and a reprieve from the overly sweet duck. The tiny lime wedges were a nice touch.
The chicken reminded me of a tandoori wrap. It was a little creamy, and we guessed the dressing was 1,000 Island Sauce – not your usual chicken condiment. However, it was a solid choice.
The beef at first bite was declared “beef’s good” by Eat Freak #2. A compliment to the chef/chief taco assembler, as the meat was tender, not dry and stringy as can sometimes be symptomatic of a poorly prepared burrito/taco. This one was the champion of the night.
And last but not least, the pork. Given I hardly ever cook pork, I’m actually a big fan of the swine. The pork too, could pride itself on its lack of stringiness (dry, overcooked). As it was the last taco of the night (and there were a few of them), it was a little lukewarm, but it was a decent finale. I thought that the pork tasted smoked, EF2 disagreed. I don’t think it really tasted like the menu description though.
Although the flavours did tend to blend into one by the end of it, there must be a winner. So my taco medals would go to…
3. Pork / Fish (tie)
5. Duck (a very distant last too)
All the while, we were accompanying our taco bites with the chilli fries, which were surprisingly delicious. Complete with authentic imitation cheese (you know the type, that plasticy orange stuff which is scrumptious when eaten in the context of quasi mexican pub grub). They were salty, crispy (yet soft in the middle), with plenty of jalepenos to ensure its spicy goodness… and of course absolutely terrible for you. Favourite dish of the night though!
Return factor? It’s a pretty good pick for a Tuesday. Not on the route home, so I would probably only go out of my way with a group of friends as the atmosphere is pretty pumping. That’s pumping in terms of energy and sheer crowd size rather than anything else. The music was inaudible (well, the heavy electric guitar could be heard) and some staff were a bit too cool for school in their manner and overly large tall tee sweatshirts.Eat Freak #2 and I discussed whether we would be happy paying $5.50 for these tacos (of 4 for $20) normally, and we were very much on the margin. I’m guessing that the quality resulting from mass taco making on a Tuesday is sub-optimal to every other day of the week… they definitely weren’t ‘beautifully presented’. However, Taco Tuesday served up a $30.50 food bill and an acceptable quality/quality ratio, so is rated a very solid feed.