Thursday, 29 January 2009

A taste of fabulous Taste

OK – a warning - if you get annoyed with Rita gushing, and waxing lyrical, about Hobart’s most excellent café food, tune out now.

I am about to launch into a huge rave about todays lunch at Taste – Karen Goodwin-Roberts new-ish café, inside the Bahai Centre, at the back of the ABC, in the city. I will also, at this point, put my hand up to being a firm Karen G-R fan. She is someone with whom I’ve had professional dealings, as well as socializing with her, so her work is not totally unknown to me.

I have always held Karen in extremely high regard. I consider her cooking skills to be of the highest level, and her expertise beyond reproach. All this comes into play when you a) look at her menu at Taste, and b) actually eat it!

She epitomizes, to me, everything any café (indeed, any hospitality outlet serving food) in Tasmania should be. Her menu is simple, straightforward, cheap and professionally presented. It also is THE most delicious tasting food I have had for ages.

All the above is totally as one would expect from a person who has been in charge of training chefs in the art of cookery as well as hospitality at Drysdale, but I have often found that in the real world of work, people who train in something actually aren’t all that good at it in reality. They are good at the theory of it, but come time to put it all into practice, and they go to water.

Not so with Karen.

Today I chose to have the Braised shoulder of Cressy lamb, South Arm pinkeyes, dutch carrots and green peas in an onion broth $12 (yes, can you believe it? $12 for a plate of perfection!!). As I ate it, in absolute ecstasy, I was formulating in my head how I would describe this manna from heaven on the blog. I decided that the best description would be to say it tasted exactly as it looks – fresh and tasty. Each of the separate items mentioned in the dish were local, and contained their own specific flavours, the sum total of which was the most magnificent Irish, peasant-type dish. As I said, simple, straightforward and tasty. Sir Grumpy would have loved it (given that he hates wanky food), and Whitey could also dine in style here for an extremely low cost.

I finished with one of Karen’s little cupcakes ($2.50 each), and because it was so beautiful, bought one to take home as well, but that got eaten in the car, as it was so irresistible.

I accompanied the meal with an ice cold bottle of Gillespie’s Ginger Beer, given that the temperature today is reputed to be 29.

I also had a lovely long chat with Karen and husband Michael, as well as a guided tour round the Centre. The total package is well worth making it your café of choice – but if you choose not to believe Rita, feel free, because the one disadvantage in letting people in on secrets like this, is that then they want to experience it for themselves, then I’ll have to queue up to get a table there!

I’m putting Karen’s café in the 5 star classification – unheard of on Rita’s Bite for a café.

Also please note that she caters for any function, both at the Centre, or at a venue of your choice. It’s a family affair, with Karen and Michael and their assorted offspring working there as well. I frequently use Karen’s catering for my work functions and NOTHING has ever been faulted – quite rare in todays world of obligatory perfection.
Posted on by Rita


Christina said...

Rita you're a saviour!
Looking for something different to do on the last day of my holidys tomorrow, and I think you've just found it for me.
It sounds wonderful to me.
Before I read your piece I looked at the pictures and thought "that looks like my Irish Stew".
Maybe I can rustle up some company but if not I'm determined to try Taste.
I didn't know it existed until now.
How exciting!

Rita said...

Hi Christina - yes, please do get along there. Go on your own or give Rita a call, and she'll be overjoyed to get another chance to try another meal on the menu. The other thing I really wanted to try was:
Bratwurst scotch egg with boks bacon and Karen's mums chutney ($8)
but also:
House cured and cold smoked atlantic salmon, horseradish creme fraiche, radish, crispy capers and a touch of lemon and olive oil ($8)
Nichols chicken panko crumbed schnitzel in a roll with kimchi ($10). I love Nichols chicken, panko and kimchi! Sounds like my ideal lunch too!

Barbara Pongratz says her favourite there (which she keeps having) is the Warm salad of beetroot, wursthaus chorizo, ashgrove fetta, greens with an orange vinaigrette ($8), which I need to try as well.

I also like the sound of Asparagus, poached free range eggs, roasted capsicum mayonnaise with shaved pyengana cheddar ($8). Looks like this for breakfast is also the go for me!

So much beautifulness in one room!

Christina said...

So I'll see you there tomorrow Rita!
Can't wait!

sir grumpy said...

Ah, yes, less starchy Rita!
I was just talking about lamb, and spuds too.
Looks good, but I prefer my food just thrown casually on the plate...these people look like professionsla the way they do it.
One problem with your new site, Rita is that only two iems are on the one screen. This means things disappear before we get our usual full and frank comments.
Out of site, out of mind.
Also, the pics...which look great...also tend to stretch the item, forcing an earlier turnover to items being assigned ``older posts''.
Thought I'd mention it.

Kris said...

Scotch eggs = count me in. I'd not heard of it either, but will now have to take a look.

You've pumped up its tires here Rita!

Rita said...

Christina and Rita will be dining in style at Taste tomorrow, as per the above!
Sir G - I'm very sorry that those issues you mentioned occur, and am aware of it. I'll speak with the guru and see how we look with that, but I think we'll be out of luck there. I think we needed the trade-off, so lost a few things like that when we amalgamated the two sites.
Kris - yes, I'm glad you recognized my tire pumping! I would love you to come back and tell me after you've sampled Karen's wares. They have a natty little childrens room set aside too. Not sure if it is used by cafe patrons, but there would be no harm in asking. They have the cleverest kids chairs in there - ask them to show you. You'll be amazed.

Tassiegal said...

Hmmm- I'm probably in town for a third?

Rita said...

Hi TG - we'd love to have you join us - we're meeting there at 11.30 this morning.

Blue Mtns Chef said...

hey rita, any chance of posting website url's for these places?

I couldn't find taste with a google search.

and if you read that last sentence out of context, it becomes really funny....

Rita said...

Hey Chef - adding the url at the moment on this new site requires HTML language I don't have, I'm afraid. I have emailed Guru and requested he add Karen's address for you. When we have simplified the process, I will be able to resume adding the urls. It's:

rockoyster said...

That would be but not much use going there as it only says web site coming soon.

Link adding instructions in your email inbox Reetz.

Blue Mtns Chef said...

thanks, rita.

as rockoyster posted, the site's just a splashpage with 'website coming soon', so I wasn't able to glean a peek at their menu.

I'm nosy like that... occupational hazard.

Christina said...

So I met the lovely Rita for lunch today and I must say all the raving about Taste is justified and more.
It's an exquisite setting, so airy and light, with lots of natural timber adding warmth and comfort. Even on such a warm day it was lovely and cool inside.
We enjoyed our lunch immensely, our choices of rare skirt steak with chimmichurri, warm beetroot salad with chorizo and goats cheese, and panko crusted chicken with kimchi were just perfection on a plate. So enamoured am I with Karen's chimmichurri I'm determined to make my own and keep going til I get it right. If she bottled it, she'd be onto a real winner.
Apparrantly the cupcakes are to die for. Rita certainly seemed to enjoy hers and I'm sure she'll enjoy the two she took home also. [sorry Rita},I got such pleasure watching her eat one and all the ooohs and aaahs.
So thankyou Rita for your wonderful company and helping me to discover yet another fantastic place to lunch in Hobart.
Tassiegal where were you?

Tassiegal said...

Christina - I didnt re read comments until about 11:15. I got there around 11:45, but got a sudden attack of "eeep people I dont know" and hid in a corner. I think I saw you and Rita though - were you wearing a blue shirt? (if so I was the one in a apple green dress who walked past).

Christina said...

Oh no! That was me in the blue.
We waited for a while and made the lovely waitress come back a couple of times. We then discovered it was 11.45 so we ordered.
You missed a great meal and good conversation.
Next time eh!

Tassiegal said...

Oh, I still ate! The food was lovely. For some reason I got a massive attack of shyness, which as most ppl will tell you, very unlike me!!

Rita said...

What did you have TG?

Tassiegal said...

The Cressy lamb with sunflower sprouts andd chutney on a roll. It was lovely and moist!