Sunday, 28 March 2010


Last night saw an experience for Rita in which she was totally blown away, and left speechless, and casting about fruitlessly looking for superlatives to describe the meal she had at the most unlikely venue of Federal’s Terrace Restaurant, at Country Club, Launceston.

Before I continue, I must disclose that I was invited by Exec Chef at the Terrace, Sean Keating, who organized for my accommodation and the meal to be courtesy of Federal – for which I will be eternally grateful, because, without a doubt, it would have taken me months to get around to dragging my sorry arse all the way to Launceston to write about a meal which I could probably have done just as easily staying in Hobart, and not inconveniencing myself so much!

Well, it’s Rita left here with egg on her face, because I am genuine in saying that this was THE most spectacular, and ‘out there’ meal I have had in my life!

I will also add that I warned Sean upfront that if I didn’t like any of the food, I was going to be honest and say so in my write-up on the blog. He was fine with that, and said he wouldn’t wish it any other way.

Really, you needed to be there to understand what I am raving about, but I am more than happy to repeat the experience any time with any of you, and have today organized a return trip to the Terrace with a friend or two whose faces I so want to see when they experience what I did last night – and I am under no doubt that they will.

The reason Sean insisted I come up there was to experience a meal he calls the Freefall menu. I had never heard of this, and on further questioning, have found no one else who has heard of it either. Basically it is a menu option on the Terrace’s menu whereby you can opt to select the Freefall menu, either with matched wines ($130 pp) or without ($80 pp). It’s not a degustation, as such, but rather you saying what you DON’T like, then leaving it to chef to select, cook and send out beautiful food to you.

The menu description of the Freefall menu reads thusly: “If you’d like a more extensive food tour, travel from north to south (of Tassie) with the Terrace team…..5 courses selected by our chef, including tea/coffee and homemade petit fours….”

When you select to go with that option, you will be asked about any allergies and food dislikes or preferences, then you find yourself trusting in the chef’s abilities to take you on a gastronomic journey to heaven and back. It’s about trust – in the chefs there, and their cooking abilities, and imaginations – and lucky for us, the chefs there (apart from Sean) doing the Freefall are women. Yes, three extremely on-the-ball young ladies are responsible for the preparation and cooking of this extraordinary food, and I have to say it, risking much approbation by the male sex, but the girls in the kitchen really earn their pay, and create not only wonderful food, but also an extremely calm and measured kitchen environment. I went to the kitchen, and all was serene, with no pots being banged, or orders being screamed, or unruly attitude. It was a nice logical sequence of events as they cooked and served up table after table for a full restaurant.

Now there are two things I want to point out as well before I go into any detailed description of the food. Firstly, the table next to us were also having the Freefall, were several courses behind us, but had different Freefall food!

My point? Logically, admit it – most chefs would think to themselves, “I’m doing 3 freefalls on Table 2, and 4 freefalls on Table 3, so why don’t I just do the same 7 freefalls and save myself the effort of doing the 2 tables separately?” Nope – way too easy. The other table of 4 got different freefall food to us.

Secondly, along with each course, our wonderfully charismatic waiter Peter bought out a handwritten description from Sean in the kitchen of exactly what was on the plate, what we should be looking at or for, what we should smell before we ate, and what the general aim of this course was. Each note was also accompanied by some odd decorative, doodly squiggles, cartoons, and diagrams of the way the food was placed on the plate. This small act elevated 7 courses of food from fabulous to OTT. Knowing exactly what chef was aiming to achieve with each plate of food, and focusing on doing exactly as we were told resulted in all of us being more than satisfied at the end of the day.

After the meal, Sean came out, sat with us, and answered our many questions about how he achieved such weird things as olive oil powder, olive powder, fig and white chocolate powder, thyme and tarragon patissiere.

1st course
Elements of olive and rosemary bread; yeast foam; broken bread; rosemary for the nose; olive oil powder (smell first); olive powder – olives 14 months old, done in-house; Lentana Grove olive oil.

2nd course
Sashimi kingfish in a bowl; apple, celery, lemon soup; glass noodles; aromatic lime

3rd course
House cured duck; preserved peaches; watercress; cornichons; capers; chlorophyll; garlicky crumbly stuff

4th course
Lamb; wasabi; ratatouille; fig; parsnip

5th course
Home stretch. Queso de valdeon Spanish blue cheese; house made brioche; fig/white chocolate powder; porcini gelee; sultanas in Pedro Ximinez; pistachio crumbs

6th course
Nest fallen on the ground (Autumn); berries, nuts and grains; smokey mousse underpinned by thyme and tarragon patissiere

7th course
Plaster of Paris; citrus and acids; agar agar; gelatine.

There were aspects of all courses that I loved, but overall favourites I think were the kingfish , the blue cheese and the fallen nest. I am simply lost for words to describe this meal. All I can say to you is that if you are a person who feels strongly about food, I would love you to travel to Launceston, experience the Freefall at Terrace, then come back to me with your thoughts.

Sean – you’re one zany weirdo but I salute what you do and what you’re trying to achieve for your staff and your restaurant, and food standards generally in Tasmania. If more chefs trod your path, and were able, or prepared to, follow in your footsteps, our reputation as a food bowl would gain much more credibility.


Christina said...

So glad this was a great experience for you Rita.

lemon curd said...

What a beautiful description of one of those "I've no idea how to describe this" moments!
Heading up week after next and am already booked in so really looking forward to it now!

Anonymous said...

hey perhaps you may want to try the dessert degustation .........viola a 6 course smash fest

Anonymous said...

That guy needs his own tv show and a straight jacket...

peeps said...

howdy the chicks i work with need the show......i need the freshest tas has..ya in my best german accent

sir grumpy said...

Oh dear, Rita.
Glad you enjoyed it. It looks a bit (a lot) Heston Bloomingdale for me.
But each to their own.

Anonymous said...

hey Grumps from doing the dessert freefall, i would describe it as Avante Garde.....theres like a fragile balance thing going on....... my freefall featured a chocolate souffle............yeah weird experience but Comforting you can feel the energy of the creativity...yeah not sure....i was in the middle of this what i felt experimental sequence and then a Souffle he had pushed hard and then pulled me back.....ive been several times savoury and sweet....

peeps said...

how exciting............pete our front of house guy will give us the odd im not doing that but..........he will see it our way and roll with it............ on the other hand...he also has to at times draw aline in the sand.....and ensure the customer does get to put the food in there mouth........if Rachel is dropping people into freefall it will be different....we at times may both be going on different table so there is complete differing styles going out.......we have on occasion let one start and the other finish.......wich as a chef becomes a pressure cooker you do not want to let the crew your working with down........and ultimatley you want the customer to walk away going....yeah my tummy is fulll.........personally i want them to lock me up......hope that helps anon

sir grumpy said...

I admire chefs who go out there but as I've confessed I am a firm believer in a whole plate of food on a plate.
However, tasting menus are NOT about that, so for the adventurous it's a great way of finding out about lots of things and combinations.
We do not dine out JUST to fill our guts (although that should be borne in mind!).
There's the social side and the sdventure.
Rita loves her good food and that's why outings like this are ideal.
New, exciting and thought provoking (just like me really).
Me, I'd like after a light soup, the lamb course on its own bigged up with some spanish rice (you know cooked in stock with herbs and peppers) served with it.
Then a light selection of puds.
Yummo. Yes, I'm a bistro man.
But it;s still great to see the boundaries being pushed by and for others.

Tassiegal said...

I have a soft spot for Terraces. Had some lovely meals there a couple of years ago, and my Dad loved the degustation there when we went on our road trip a couple of years ago. I think I may have to venture up there and try the freefall, the concept sounds brillant.

peeps said...

Hey Sir Grumpy
we agree nothing will ever replace good cooking........
and just let pete know that and viola the menu will trod down that path.............ah bistro cookery, smokey hocks braised with pearl barley..........i can do that just tell pete if you pop up sometime and we can freefall french bistro or english pub....or aussie will twist and turn a little but, you can be in charge if you much fun.

sir grumpy said...

Well Peeps,
that's a refreshing response for a jaded old palate.
More elbow to your power.
I might take you up on it soon.

peeps said...

absolutley.....your very welcome...oh there are some fabulouse Bordeaux's in our cellar
winter food bubbling

Anonymous said...

dont mean to sound rude but are you sure they were just not taking the piss out of you???

Rita said...

As you can see, Sir G, Sean is one zany guy!
TG - yes, take a trip up there and give it a try.
Anon 12.10 - you don't sound at all rude, but, no, they were definitely not taking the piss.
I haven't been to Fat Duck, or gone out of my way to experience what I would call 'extreme' food, so, call me naive, but this was a style of food I hadn't experienced to date. Those familiar with the Fat Duck, Heston-style of food will be much better placed to say how Terrace food compares, but for (relatively unsophisticated) me, it was 'out there' - but most enjoyably so.

Piccalilly said...

very different to The Fat Duck. The food looks a lot more along the lines of The Tippling Club in Singapore than what Heston is doing. Heston's food is much more precisely plated.

Anonymous said...

Hey Piccalilly-RU Saying that Peeps food is not precisely plated?

Martian said...

Rita, I am so totally green . . . and it's not just because of where I come from earthling.

Anonymous said...

Piccalilly needs to reduce the level of green envy and get on with the flavour reading the blog i think he has 3 staff not 50 and i do believe not a single case of food poisening

peeps said...

well sounds like everyone has an opinion....hey Rita the blog works...........piccalilly really enjoyed dinner 2 weeks ago really nice balance, love to live across the Road....................april says hi

ut si said...

I can so understand your excited state in the car all the way to Penguin the morning after now Rita. I'm there babes!

Tassiegal said...

Rita - for the first time I think EVER, when my inbox lobbed me an email saying there was a vaguely interesting seminar on in Launceston, I didnt disregard it out of hand. My brain went - YES an excuse to go do the Freefall menu at Terraces! You are a bad influence in a good way!

Piccalilly said...

I did not mean that the food is simply thrown at the plate. The food at the terrace is plated with very steady hands and everything is placed exactly where it needs to be to look its best. I did mean that the food at the Fat Duck is plated in a much more ordered and regimented way with some things being symmetrical. This is a simple style difference, I did not intend to have a go at anyone.

Piccalilly said...

I thought I should add this link to clarify my point.

Tippling Club is one of the finest eateries on the planet and the food is produced by one of the greatest young chefs. I intended my comment that Sean's food resembled Ryan Clift's food in its aesthetic to be a huge compliment to Sean. Very sorry for the confusion.

Rita said...

How interesting! I just checked out the Tippling Club site - you're totally right! Sean would fit in on staff at Tippling Club perfectly!

Piccalilly said...

I feel terrible about it all.

Rita said...

Those who know you did not take what you said the wrong way. I'm sure Sean wouldn't have either.

peeps said...

Hi all sean last post must have flown the coup, Love the tippling Club, read Piccalilly post and was stoked, the comment was taken as a compliment, hope your all well