Saturday, 2 January 2010

Restaurant 58

Well, here we are again – the first review for 2010 – and first cab off the 2010 review rank is Restaurant 58 – the new café contained within the newly opened (3 weeks ago) Hotel Collins at, don’t be surprised, 58 Collins Street (right next door and connected physically to the Market Place car park).

And it turned out to be old home week there, as I discovered when I went across to the Reception desk to ask a few questions, that General Manager is Greg Illingworth, most recently at Lenna but an old hospitality hand from many years back. Head Chef is Scott Greensmith, ex-IGT hospitality trainer and ex-The Source at Moorilla chef.

I have dealt in my former (professional) life with Greg at Lenna and Scott at IGT, so it was great to see where they have progressed to.

I was actually on my way to eat again at Taste, and meet up with Sally and Gordon Hammond from Australian Regional Food, who have come to Hobart specifically to experience the Taste, when I got sidetracked and ended up lunching at Restaurant 58. I spent 20 minutes circling Battery Point, Sandy Bay and the city trying to find somewhere to park where I didn’t have to return within a maximum of 2 hours – a total impossibility today with both Salamanca Market plus Taste happening. It was like being in the ocean surrounded by hungry sharks all circling, looking for the first available car parking spot!

My final plan/solution to the problem was to park at Market Place car park, walk over to Taste then return at my leisure, but I got sidetracked by the new café after I had parked the car, and after perusing the menu, decided to lunch there instead – and I’m SO glad I did.

It was empty when I arrived at around 1.00. The waitress was pleasant and hospitable, so I made an instant decision to vary my plans and eat in peace and comfort instead of battling my way through the biggest of crowds to get a paper plate full of food to devour standing up after I hadn’t been able to find either table or chair – no matter how good it would be, it wouldn’t be the same as sitting in airconditioned comfort, being waited on hand and foot, in a restaurant with a chef making food specifically for ME!

So – I decided on the Tasting Plate which was priced at $19. It came out on a rectangular white plate, as they do these days, looking impressive. But the now-hardened and a tad cynical Rita is always wary of food that presents startlingly well but ends up being another same old, same old plate of food.

Each item on the platter was stunning. It blew me away. And I hadn’t seen the chef at this stage so had no idea who their chef was.

It was made up of four components: two natural oysters (well, you can’t go wrong with a natural oyster, can you?); two generously sized slices of poached pear, poached in port and spices, and wrapped in pancetta; sugar cured ocean trout served with avocado and rocket; and thinly sliced rare roast beef.

It all sounds pretty ordinary, I admit, but the flavours were right up there IMHO. Prior to leaving home, I had brushed my teeth (as I always do!) but this tends to skew your taste buds when you go to eat anything soon after you’ve done that. So you’ll understand my extreme surprise, when I sampled the first few mouthfuls of food, it tasted so good despite the toothpaste flavours already inhabiting my mouth!

The oysters were pure; the pear and pancetta combo perfectly matched; the trout, avocado and rocket balancing each other beautifully; the roast beef being tender, flavoursome and complementing the other parts magnificently.

I hadn’t intended having a dessert but curiosity about whether or not this might be just a fluke lead me to order the Eton Mess ($8), then find that too equally great.

So – my advice to all who care to listen: pop in to Restaurant 58 and check it out. It is a hotel, and the café is first and foremost the eating venue for house guests, so that’s who their principal market/clientele is. But down the track they will probably look at making it a venue option for locals to have some quality food. It’s new, it’s small (seats around 35), it’s close to many things. Plug it into your semi-conscious for some time down the track when you have need of a smaller, convenient meeting place.

Posted on by Rita


Anonymous said...

I'd like to add that they also serve damned fine coffee with speed and efficiency, all of which is much appreciated by the nurses and medical staff hurrying to work.
The friendliness of the staff is likewise soothing to the souls of those of us working over the holiday period.

Anonymous said...

Rita you are famous!!! Your in the TV guide today.

Stephen Estcourt said...

I will give it a try Rita but I have never experienced a restaurant in a hotel which was aimed at catering for houseguests ( as opposed to the other way around) that ever achieved any level of excellence in the long run.

Gerard said...

The Cafe/Bar is also aimed at the local clientele too!
Wait till you see Friday afternoon drinks in the new look laneway.Full wine list/local and European Beer.
Our T/Away coffee is fantastic,our tea is quality loose leaf & brewed with care.A great place to come to get away from the crowds.Why not let your soul take a break aswell.
Gerard Reardon
Fifty 8 Restaurant Manager

Gerard said...

Scotts food is beautiful.
Breakfast/Lunch & Dinner.

sir grumpy said...

What TV Guide was Rita IN? I nenver get to see a guide, the missus grabs them and keeps them.