Friday, 9 July 2010

'One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well' - Virginia Woolf

Regular readers of this blog will probably remember Rita’s review a few months ago of the Freefall menu at The Terrace restaurant at Launceston Country Club. You will possibly remember that Rita was blown away, lost for words, left speechless by the spectacular food there with that particular meal.

Well, I am delighted to announce that tonight revealed another of those gems.

My dining companion tonight was a little-known restauranteur from the north of the state who was down south trying to poach staff from this end of the island! I hope she failed, as I dearly want to return to my new-found most favourite eating venue in Hobart, as of tonight, and I need to know that my most favourite F&B Operations Manager, Thomas, is there still, or I refuse, despite the fabulous food, to return!

It’s a place I had to give a most unsympathetic review three years ago. I well remember, as if it were yesterday, the unimpressive food and the absolutely woeful service at 1839 – the in-house restaurant at Hadleys.

Three years later, I am over the moon to renounce my previous review, and proclaim Hadleys head and shoulders above such random restaurants as, hmm, let me think…..373 perhaps?

New Exec Chef is ex-Cradle Mountain chef Simon Cordwell, who impressed me a few months back when I first stumbled across his blog. He wrote with passion about Tasmanian products, and hospitality in general, so when I read on his blog that he was moving to the south of the state, I was curious as to where he was going, and only found out recently exactly where he ended up – and it was Hadleys.

So, having made a booking for 6.00, Madam and I met in the bar at 5.45 for a pre-dinner drink (wine for her, yummy cocktail for me courtesy of young Luke who proudly boasted that management had allowed him free rein with his cocktail invention test!), then proceeded to talk for what seemed like 10 minutes but in reality was 35 minutes at which time we realized we were 20 minutes late for our scheduled table booking, so rushed breathlessly into the dining room to take up positions at our table and await the procession of fine food.

Having pre-warned Simon that we were coming to sample his food, we had also agreed to leave the evening’s menu in his hands. He could make us whatever he wanted and we would gratefully accept it. We had hoped for the same when we ordered the Tasting Menu at 373 a while back, and were sadly disappointed that night, but undaunted, were happy to try again with this idea.

So tonight’s seven courses at Hadleys were:
Salmon tataki on Asian salad, and 3 oysters natural with mirin, soy and pearl
Smoked salmon and avocado tartare with black truffle on tomato/avocado consommé
Tasmanian scallops with cauliflower puree, crisp pancetta and white anchovies
Vodka colonel – a lemon sorbet with pear vodka
Loin of lamb with pea puree and roast carrots
Pan fried blue eye on herb roasted potatoes in rocket puree
Poached pears, mini apple fritters, ice cream
Assorted cheeses
Ronnefeldt teas

Madam quaffed matched wines with each course which she thoroughly enjoyed, and Rita stuck to apple juice after finishing the pre-dinner cocktail.

Every course was wonderful. I am hard pressed to select my favourite but maybe if pushed, would pick the first one – the tataki (pictured below). It was light, flavoursome and perfect.

To my huge embarrassment, after requesting the bill at the end of the meal (11.00 pm!!), we were informed the meal was complimentary, courtesy of management. We were gobsmacked. Such an unnecessary but generous gesture. I was already raving about the food after tasting first course, and would have been overjoyed for them to knock the cost of ONE of the courses off the bill, or one of the drinks. So, in the interests of honesty, I am disclosing this, but honestly, I was psyched to pay around $150 for this meal, and would have been happy to pay more than that.

The other vital component of this meal tonight and the fact that it was so undeniably perfect was that the total package included THE SERVICE.

Thomas, a German guy, has to be THE most amusing, witty, crazy, sarcastic, piss-taking guy I have ever clapped eyes on. His badge proclaims him to be F&B Operations Manager. WTF? This guy puts Adolf Hitler, John Cleese and every other bloke you’ve ever laughed at, in the shade. He is the crème de la crème of waiters. He has that fabulous Germanic efficiency (of movement; of thought processes; of organisation), yet has acquired the Aussie skill of taking the piss in the dryest possible way, so he was quite at home quoting that wonderful Fawlty Towers line of “Don’t mention the war, well, I mentioned it, but I think I got away with it….!!" He also forbad us to mention Spain, which, I gather, had something to do with the World Cup!

He is absolutely priceless, and epitomizes all I have ever said publicly, and privately, about my customer service beliefs. Our dining out experience would have been classified as fabulous only taking the food into consideration. With the addition of Thomas’ fantastically high service standards ie his sense of humour, his ability to efficiently serve the food whilst at the same time engaging actively and interestedly with us, every time he came to the table, making stupid, senseless jokes, and generally having a great time with us, and knowing instinctively how far he could go, completed the full package for us.

If anyone is in any doubt about Rita’s ability to pick a winner, I suggest you take up my challenge to eat at Hadleys. Insist on only going if Thomas is working. Insist on eating at least some of the above-mentioned dishes.

If you can’t make it for dinner, try their afternoon teas. $22 for the full, silver served deal! Every day, 7 days/week, 2-4. Thomas will direct operations from the samovar.

Sir Grumpy – I can see you and Lady G in there, little finger raised, supping your Earl Grey, and chomping down on petit delights!

Please everyone – I plead with you – believe me when I say, hand on heart, Hadleys has at last regained life. Their new additions/renovations will kick in soon, which should give rise to even higher standards than now. Go back in time, and revisit good old Hadleys. I promise you, you won’t be sorry.


sir grumpy said...

Very uplifting, Rita, thank you.
We do love a nice pot of Earl Grey too.
Glad the old gal has new life in her (the hotel, Rita, the hotel!).

Anonymous said...

Sounds good to me. Im happy to take your recommendation Rita. We will make the effort to go there soon.

Nuf Sed said...

Sounds awesome Rita -- some of Tasmania's restaurant waiting staff are real legends - in the true meaning of the word, and for that reason alone, there are a select few restaurants that I make massive financial contributions to.

The food sounds great too, I must try them....

lemon curd said...

Hooray for good service! Bet there's one hospitality employee who goes home happy and positive after a shift - great to see :)

The Passionate Gardener said...

Tomatoes, avocado and peas? Not really in season. I hope they do well. They obviously impressed you Rita but that salmon plate seemed a little 'bland' to me.

Anonymous said...

To pasionate gardener-I agree that fruit and vege should be sesonal in rest-cafes but many top end places on the mainland also dont serve seasonal stuff either and I think its admirable but not always achieable to do it all the time

Tassiegal said...

I was at Hadleys just after Christmas helping a mate with a concert. The feeling then as I walked through the resturant was vaguely hopeful. Glad to see its evolved into something positive. I may have to go investigate.....

The Passionate Gardener said...

It must be hard for chef's at this time of year but very few do seem to use the available Winter produce. But hardly any seem to use raddichio, kale, cavalo nero, radishes, fresh olives, exotic broccoli, chards, meyer lemons and the many other vegetables that are in plentiful supply. Good to see that chef Cordwell gets down to the HFM every week. It would be great to see more there, especialy the younger ones who think all food magically appears out of the delivery truck. Anything is achievable if you try anon!

sir grumpy said...

Hello Passionate Gardener,
I am always on the lookout for a beautiful Savoy cabbage.
The supermarkets just seem to have those pale green things with the delicious outside leaves tossed away before they are encrypted in platic to die.
Oh the joys of of the crinkly green Savoy.

Anonymous said...

Rumour: the grain has gone bankrupt/closed.........

Christina said...

Hope this news about the grain is wrong. I loved this place and so hoped it would do well. I thought it was.
Off to T42 tonight. Can't believe I've not been before.
Sir G, Woolies did have savoys last week as I bought one myself.

Rita said...

I agree about The Grain, Christina, but unfortunately that snippet in The Mercury recently confirms what I have been told by many over the past few months.
You're off to T42 tonight, and I;m off to Henry Jones tonight. Let's meet back here later and see how we both went!

Christina said...

Oh Rita, I'd gladly swap with you.
I've only been once to the Jones, but it was amazing.

sir grumpy said...

I'm going out the savoy hotel (woolies).

Anonymous said...

haha sir grumpy will be at the Kingston Beach corner takeaway!

Anonymous said...

@ Rita, RE Onba, they seem to open and close more than an umbrella during a storm. They used to have a large menu, big winelist and long opening hours.

A year later, they are always shut, the wines I pick always out of stock and a tiny menu.

Anonymous said...

The henry jones is awesome!

I had rellies fly over who paid $1400 a night for a hotel room.... it was worth every cent!