Sunday, 8 August 2010

What's going on down at the Bay?

Well, it has to be said, our magnificent eating venue in Woodbridge, seems to be attracting a fair amount of criticism of late from all manner of quarters. It seems like the elephant in the room as Rita receives emails (three this week) along with comments on this blog all relating similar tales of unhappiness at food and service there.

And why would people single out this particular venue as the one to focus their criticism on? I think mainly the place has been marketed as being an ideal venue: for food, for service; for functions; as the place to go to for your weekend drive; as a central providore for local produce; as the destination for the water trip to Woodbridge; as THE place for locals to eat and drink at. In short – it is an ideal watering hole you consider when planning a country drive – whoever you are.

An extract from one of the emails I received this week reads thusly:

“Only the new casual area was open but the lunch menu was very limited, quite a few things unavailable, service very patchy - 3 main dishes were served 8 minutes before the other 3, had to chase coffees, only one cake available, very limited dessert choices, dismal vegetarian, some staff not in any type of uniform - not even a name badge. Had a look at the dinner menu & it seemed a little better but I think they are still struggling to put together a balanced menu that would keep the locals happy & give the chefs a chance to showcase their individual style. They have also changed the providore area which I think is a mistake. PB is one of those frustrating places that should be great & you wonder why it isn't.”

These sentiments are echoed in the other comments. I understand the seating/dining arrangements have been lessened, with some tables and chairs removed and the remaining ones in the bar moved down into the restaurant area, thus on the surface giving rise to, hopefully, more concentration on good food and service (due to lesser numbers of diners for the kitchen to deal with) but maybe in reality giving rise to staff having to work less! Far be it from me to be the cynic, but I find it hard to believe that a restaurant business operating in today’s highly competitive market, especially in an outlying area such as Woodbridge, would actually cut the number of tables in the bar/restaurant, rather than utilising what they currently have or adding more tables – for the logical higher profit!

I believe also that the current chef is only there for 6 months, meaning he leaves as the busy summer season near the end of this year kicks in. I have not hidden my bias in favour of this venue in the past, and still retain these feelings. I sincerely hope those in charge have a sound plan going, as they will surely need it!
Posted on by Rita


Yin Mei Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Peppermint 'lost its way' Bay

Anonymous said...

My only experience here was enough to put me off for ever.

$35 main course consisted of three scallops, some fancy crap, and nothing else.

Sure I know these places need to make money, but I just felt ripped off. Not value for money, everything has 1000% mark ups added and service was less than cafe standard.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to add to the above, my partner had salt and pepper squid, we calculated the cost of that to be around $3 per centimetre, what a rip off. I happily pay for quality, but this was just.... crap!

Anonymous said...

Personally I've always thought it to be particularly overrated. The room feels soulless, the service has been impersonal and often rude, while the food has been nothing to write home about. Especially what they have been charging. Never understood why it got the wraps it did.

Anonymous said...

The Gourmet Traveller annual food guide Tasmanian state restaurant reveiewers, Roger Mcshane and Sue Dyson, gave PB a 15 out of 20 on their site after a recent meal or two.

According to them, they score it in the top five Tasmanian restaurants.

Anonymous said...

Actually I have heard they have no longer got that gig?

Anonymous said...

I'd give it 13 or 14 out of 20. Food will always be subjective, but if I am been objective - comparing like to like - I'd give it 13 or 14. As I said before, it is overrated in my opinion.

sir grumpy said...

I miss the old building and people, it was far more suitable for the area.
I hate the design of the new place but a family member and her crew used to go regularly for the pub meal, not fine dining (although they tried this once or twice.)
I wouldn't go in because I just don't feel attracted by it.
My mob always liked it before this latest change.
Then there's the Oyster Cove, boy has that had a chequered past.

Anonymous said...

We were there on the weekend, for a drink and cake. Service was terrible, 3 drinks arrived then it was ages before the
4th was delivered. There was 1 cake, that was it. Won't be going back again anytime soon.

Lucy said...

the beers are good...

giggles said...

It's had six chefs in charge since 2007 with periods of no one in charge until the head chef arrived-thats one every 6 months!
The one after Cumper (who opened the place in 2003 and remains not only the only chef with the longest tenure but also winning national recognition for his eforts as the inaugural winner of the 2007 vogue entertaining produce awards for outstanding use of regional produce by a chef) Simon whats-his-name-bad review bloke was next and is currently hiding from Graeme Phillips somewhere in a Hobart kitchen. Some Queensland mercenary-gun-for-hire-cowboy-rockstar was then pimped to hold the fort until the viagra-hyped David Martin arrived, ahem, who was to exit stage left after a dose of culinary Brewers-Droop. Sadly ill equipped to ignite any customer interest, seemingly intimidated by the local scene and suffering culinary stage-fright, he 'Failed to launch'.
Finally serial job applicant and wage hustler, Paul Foreman, in an act of career suicide decided to quit the dizzy heights of national acclaim he garnered at Marque IV to ahem, cook bar food and nibbles for the day-boat crowd? For reasons still not understood by bookies used to taking long odds, it didn't last.
After much hand wringing from the
owners it was decided to cast the net wider.
David Moyle, a chef with some pedigree, was appointed and his 2IC was dispatched to come down to 'interpret' his menu, notably to some recent critical acclaim.
The 2IC has since moved on(it was always known to be a temp posting) and now Moyle has fully taken command.
Word is that Moyle is only contracted for a brief tenureship himself of up to eight months?

Where will this then leave the SS Peppermint Bay, rudderless again?

Anonymous said...

Very strange culture at that place. And it flows through to the dining room.

sir grumpy said...

Does Simon Currant still have PB?
He had the Franklin Inn, which was a lovely (if a wee bit boring) place to stay.

Greg said...

Dinner last friday night-55 minutes for fish and chips and a couple of pizzas. Poor girl on the floor did a fabulous job but in the end there was nothing she could do to cover the appalling situation and the pizzas were free.
While we waited we were 'entertained' by a three or four year old throwing coloured pencils on the floor. "The bosses son" we were told.
Beer selection just appalling. what better place to promote a few interesting local and imported ales. None. Not even a list of beers on the dinner menu.
very very poor. The space is way too big and much of it in darkness. No atmosphere as a result. The staff did a fabulous job in very trying circumstances. Urgent action needed. The brand is being destroyed.

sir grumpy said...

Rita, on another's an ill wind...
Aurora had our little area off power from 9am till 3pm yesterday for repairs to a power pole junction. We got a card the week befor to warn us.
me and the missus went out for lunch and there were two parties of neighbours also there for a hot lunch!
We all had the same idea...and a little greeting for each other. Nice.

Anonymous said...

astonished to read that gourmet traveller has rated peppermint bay as its second best tasmanian restaurant after lebrina in its annual guide-the likes of moorilla, meadowbank, piccolo, smolt, piccalilly, angassi, marque iv, strathlynn, mee wah dont even get a star. montys, henry jones are not mentioned

Anonomouse said...

They were harsh but fair on the star giving this year. Quite simply, those other restaurants aren't worth a star if comparing to other starred restaurants on the mainland. Except Piccalilly. I thought they would have got a star. And I totally disagree about PB getting a star. Bizarre decision IMO.

Anonymous said...

last anon-do you mean you totally disagree about them(pb)being worthy of a star or that you disagree that I was questioning the fact that they did get a star?

Anonomouse said...

I mean I disagree about them getting a star. They aren't even close to been a starred restaurant in my opinion, especially comparing to other mainland restaurants. I'm not surprised about Monty's not been mentioned. The cheese platter is good, although they put some pretty young cheese on their, and cheese platters don't win you stars. The rest of the food is pretty standard fare i.e. I wouldn't recognise it as been distinctly Monty's or distinctly better than other restaurants food if it was served in another establishment.

Anonymous said...

my guess is annonomouse is a 19 year old, male, 2nd year apprentice at cooleys.

Anonomouse said...

Ummmm... no? If only I was 19 again! LOL! The grey hairs are appearing, the belly is expanding and my knees hurt in the cold.

Why do you say that I'm 19 and work at Cooley's?

Anonomouse said...

Anyone else have any other opinions on the stars awarded and restaurants named, whether here or on the mainland?

Anonymous said...

Anonomouse just to let you know all the cheeses at montys are served just as they hit there peak there are definitely none that "pretty young"

Anonymous said...

amazed to see PB with one star - on par with Billy Kwong, Longrain, Cumulus Inc, Movida - among the few - come on!!!!! - Tassie doesn't compete with those anywhere. It just shows how magazines print nonsense. I find it patronising because it is so far of the mark, and belittles Tas by printing bullshit and makes us sit back and forgive bad food - bad menus, bad coffee and bad service. Something Tas needs no more of. Come on Gourmet - show some responsiblity and don't be seduced by the view.

Anonymous said...

maybe the reviewing process needs to be more open, as the present reviewers dont review all restaurants, as one example, most of you on here rate Red Velvet Lounge, and Steve has recently one a major accolade in the country, yet there is no review. Just a mention as a worth visting restaurant.
any thoughts???

Anonomouse said...

I disagree about the Monty's cheese. I've been three times, and yes, there were some that were at their peak. But then there were a good number that were still pretty young in my opinion.

I agree Anon 11:54am. Sometimes I think there is a bias towards Tassie. A few years ago, for example, Lebrina was pretty high up the rankings and had two stars. Wife and I went a couple of times and thought it was one star standard at best after comparing it to other one, two and three stars on the mainland. I wondered why it got such a good rating and then realised there are very few restaurants in Tassie doing a high standard of food.

Another one was Marque IV when Foreman was there. It had a star at the time and I thought the times we went it didn't deserve a star. Some of the food was completely disjointed, the service was terribly lazy both times and they forgot meals let alone forgetting to clear plates for well over 20 minutes. In a restaurant of that claimed standard I expect none of that to happen. I expect at least hard working service, preferably personable, no disjointed dishes but consistently good, with the occasional great, dish and to take at most 8 minutes to clear plates. And never to forget two meals.

One thing I like about the Michelin Guide is they have Bib Gourmand ratings, where good quality restaurants serving food at moderate prices are marked in the guide, which I think should apply here.

One of the things that makes the Michelin Guide the most important and influential food guide in the world is the breadth it covers, how unrelenting in standards they are and how accurate they are. I've planned entire trips around Le Guide Rouge while booking accomodation around Le Guide Vert. I can only remember one instance where the guides failed me.

I'd love to see them in Australia. I know many local critics don't like the thought. Might ruin the status quo. But at least we'd get an outsiders opinion with no political influence from the local critics. Because the Michelin Guide is not likely to care. Another big difference is the anonymity of the reviewers. Local reviewers have there faces plastered on everything. The only known Michelin inspector is Jean-Luc Naret, the chief inspector.

Anonymous said...

here's how i'd score out of twenty if 15 was equal to one star
16.5 was two & 18+ was three

Lebrina 15.5
Smolt 15
Meadowbank 15
Moorilla 15
Peppermint Bay 14.5
Henry Jones 15
Alexanders 14
Solicit 14
Piccalilly 16
Marque iv 15
Piccolo 15.5
Cornelian Bay 14
Montys 14.5
373 14.5
Me Wah 15.5
Angassi 14.5
Black Cow 14.5
Stillwater 15
Mudd 14.5
Terrace 15
Navarros 15
Piermont 15.5

have not included cafes even though some do have a high standard

Anonomouse said...

15 wouldn't be a star for me. 16 would be one, 17.5-18.5 would be two and 18.5 would be three. Based on your rating Lebrina, Smolt, Meadowbank, Moorilla, Henry Jones, Piccalilly, Marque IV, Piccolo, Me Wah, Stillwater, Terrace, Navarros and Piermont would all be one star restaurants. That's wrong because if you compare to one and two star restaurants on the mainland they just don't stack up.

Piccalilly and Lebrina are the only restaurants in Tassie that deserve a star. And one at that.

Anonymous said...

The Age Good Food Guide awards a hat if a score of 15 is reached

Tassiegal said...

Its all subjective anyway - good night/bad night. Reviewer got out the wrong side of bed/had a cold/arguement with the SO etc etc. I'd much rather go on word of mouth and find things out for myself. Though I will admit it is an age since I went to Picalilly and it was ok, I still prefer Montys.

Anonymous said...

My Thoughts are Tas has no restaurants even close to some mainland restaurants. I have felt this for the last 15 years I have lived here. People in Tas pump themselves up using media and the uneducated diner - waffling about local produce and service. I have eaten meals in Sydney that blow me away - I have had sommeliers on the mainland move me - I have had it all - never in Tas - never in the best so called restaurants. Is there anyone out there who agrees???? Tas lives under a naive blindfold - we do have the produce - but we don't produce an amazing experience at the fine dining table - there is in my opinion no more than one or two restaurants deserving a star.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the last anon.
There are many restaurants on the mainland that have a star which in my opinion, dont deserve them, yet i could name five here which do.
What I'm starting to get annoyed about is a tone of always putting Tasmania's restaurants down.
I dont think its even helpful to compare them with many of the multi starred mainland ones. Population tourists money dining our culture staff etc are all in greater numbers over there whilst we here struggle with all of these aspects.
I thinks its time to stop bagging & thus encourage our local operators.
Perhaps if they took on board what many on this blog seem to think they should just shut up shop & give up.
Imagine a Hobart without your smolts picolos marque ivs henry jones montys lebrinas piccalillys meadowbank moorilla etc

Anonomouse said...

Yep. +1 here. Tasmania when it comes to restaurants and service is one of the biggest myths going around. I am yet to walk away from a restaurant in Tasmania where I keep saying I MUST GO BACK. That's what a one, two or three star restaurant to me is all about. Lebrina and PB got stars. And I could take it or leave it with them. Comparing them to say a Montrachet (one star), Bilson's (two stars) or a Quay (three stars), it's a massive difference in quality.

Just on an earlier point, 15 is not at star level in my opinion. 15 is a good restaurant but not at that quality and experience you would expect from a starred restaurant. Henry Jones is a 15. Piccalilly is a 16-16.5.

Anonomouse said...

What are the 5 restaurants?

It's not putting them down. It's comparing them to other starred establishments in the country. Tasmania is in the guide, is part of this country and should be rated equally and comparatively. And as far as I'm concerned restaurants in Tasmania are particularly overrated.

Struggle with tourists? Bullshit. Tourism is close to if not your biggest money maker in the state.

Anonymous said...

Last anon 5.02pm I am comparing us to the mainland because that is what the star system is about in Gourmet - it doesn't judge u on population or tourists - it judges u on the food package - and I believe Tas does not have more than 2 restaurants that deserve stars. By speaking my opinion why am I bagging operators - it is what I have experienced here and there ( Tas & Mainland ). Why is this unsupportive ??? Why does what I say remove HObart restaurants??? the ones you chose to list. Surely discussion is healthy - PB = Movida ???

Anonomouse said...

Anon 5:22pm is exactly right. Why can't operators take this as constructive criticism and aim to improve? Go eat somewhere other than Tasmania, go work interstate, renovate etc.

For example, sometimes it surprises that some of the restaurants in Tasmania don't shut down for 2-3 weeks in Winter when they struggle for numbers daily. They could use this time very productively. Send some of the apprentices for an unpaid stage at a two or three star restaurant on the mainland. Let the exec chef head overseas and be inspired. Or send them for a two week stage on the mainland or overseas.

Any chef worth their salt would kill to work in a two or three star/hat restaurant on the mainland or overseas for that matter. They do it in Europe, Asia and the United States already. Why don't owners send apprentices off for a lunch at a two or three star restaurant as a reward for their hard work? They come back inspired, happy and want to work. It benefits them and the business. It's a once a year incentive. Even if you only pay for one part i.e. flights, accomodation or a meal it's worth it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to confuse you but I'm not in the industry but I dine out regularly, both here, mainland and abroad. My experiences are generally very different from what a few commenters here are suggesting.
Mostly I have very much enjoyed the food & service I have had at the places I mentioned earlier(I did the rating list)

Anonymous said...

My goodness-so many expert opinions as usual.
Its a snarky old world out there in the hobart food scene

Anonymous said...

Bathers Pavillion - amazing
Banc - mind blowing
Paramount - unforgettable
Vulcans - Home
Turkish pizza - crown st Sydney - yum
Cabramatta - yum cha - reliable,addictive
Cleopatra's - exquisite
Bad Manners - great

Tassie - some great cafes serving honest, creative, fresh food day in and out

Restaurants - none worth more than a star.

Anonomouse said...

I'm hoping to go to Vulcan's very soon...

Not sure why this is been taken so negatively? Surely it's a positive having something to aim for?

The Passionate Gardener said...

Every year the guide comes out. Every year there is Tassie (and other) bashing. Have you no lives?

But here is my two cents.....

Went to Vue de Monde - dirty, uninspired and delivered the wrong meals - twice - $420 for two without a tip

Went to Cutler and Co - buzzy, vibrant, clean. Amazing food (have the Salad Lyonaisse) and could not fault a thing for a restaurant twice the size as above. - $290 for two with a tip

The dishes and wine choices were similar and both degustation on subsequent evenings.

It just shows how Melbourne's two 'best' restaurants can be so different to an individual.

I have had simmilar experiences in Tasmania and it has some great restaurants and some bloody poor ones, just like anywhere.

I can't agree with the PB rating and yes I would rather go to RVL or Home Hill. Just more my scene or style.

At the end of the day it is just someone's opinion in a Guide, not the Bible. Just vote with your feet. The bad will eventually fail and the good will flourish.

Anonomouse said...

No lives? Have you ever considered that it's not out of the realm of possibility that people are passionate about food and restaurants? I couldn't give a flying fuck about gardening but I don't whinge when I hear people talking about it. Yay for roses.... If you don't like food and restaurants and don't like people talking about guides then don't go to food sites.

Anonymous said...

Bathers Pavillion - No star despite Serge Dansereau

Banc - Went spectacularly bust, still owes money to creditors

Paramount - is no more

Vulcans - Good but not worth two stars

Tassie - some great cafes serving honest, creative, fresh food day in and out -yes Tricycle, Pigeon Hole, RVL, Lotus

Restaurants - none worth more than a star - no, Piccalilly, Piccolo, Lebrina

Anonymous said...

in reply to 9.25 these places blew me away - historical or not - never experienced that in Tas. Closest was Stillwater many years ago. Still think the restaurants you named are worthy of only one star.

Anonymous said...


The Banc is still open!!!

Anonomouse said...

So out of interest, what is everyone's top 5 restaurants in Tasmania and why?

Anonymous said...

China Diner
Ball N Chain
Hogs Breath
The Timeless way

Anonymous said...

Best fine diner

Best mid range

Best casual
Smolt/Black Cow

Best cafe coffee
Villino/Cupping Room

Best cafe food
Pigeon Hole/Tricycle

Best Northern Country food

Best Southern Country food

Best Northern Country cafe
Ut Si

Best Southern Country cafe
Lotus Eaters/Red Velvet