Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Restaurant Tasman, Hotel Grand Chancellor

Having been 'out of it' for the past seven months, and despite attempts to regain my former physical and mental self, normal standards have slipped slightly, and I have found myself more than once praying for the return of the one who used to be Rita!

Well - as of last week, she HAS returned!

Food and beverages are at long last entering this body, and staying there. Much needed sustenance has been fed into my much wasted body (went from a Size 16 to a Size 10 over this period), so it was with much excitement that I ventured out last night for my first post-heart-failure foray back into the world of restaurant reviewing, with a vengeance!

Bec and Aimie accompanied me, to ensure I didn't get over-excited, and also to verify my opinions!
You may well ask, why the hell did she pick HGC as a dining destination - which was the reaction of three friends, when I mentioned it to them, and which I assume would be the reaction of most people in Hobart! Well, I receive, weekly, many emails from restaurant and cafe owners requesting I come and review their restaurants, and this was one of them. My interest was aroused, and I hadn't eaten at HGC socially (and voluntarily) for many years so I decided to check them out.

I have never, in all my Rita life, announced at the outset that I was there to write a review about them, but this time, maybe due to the medication, I did! This turned out to be an extremely wise thing to have done, because as we perused the menu initially, we found ourselves in a 'selection quandry', as you often do when you eat out. So when our personable waitress Tia returned (having obviously used her initiative and discussed this with chef) offering us the option of a degustation, we pounced on this suggestion - and LOVED it. The dego option was not on the menu anywhere, but Tia told us she offers it to guests whenever she feels it might be utilised, so I was overjoyed it wasn't just a special for us.

We ended up having an excellent cross section of most dishes on the menu - which pleased my piggy pair of companions, especially as they opted for the matched wine option as well!

Aimie has a seafood allergy, so she had different options to Bec and I, which gave me even more opportunity to sample the menu., as she generously offered us tastes of all her courses too.

At the end of the evening we workshopped each plate, giving it an average rating out of 10, and found that all our separate opinions were pretty well in synch, and with the variation of maybe a half mark here and there, we were pretty congruent in our evaluations.

So.......what we ate:

Course 1 

house baked foccacia with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic, and wild olives (5/10 - bit too salty)
smoked salmon pate, with crostini, creme fraiche and chives (7/10 - beautiful, but needed more crostini or bread for the amount of pate)

Course 2

sashimi grade tuna with avocado and wasabi mayo, saffron pickled ginger and light soy (8/10)tasman taste plate from land which contained pork terrine with piccalilly, duck sausage and pear chutney, and the most gorgeous coffee cured wagyu I have ever tasted (the wagyu rated 8/10 on its own, but overall the plate only earned six and a half out of ten, as some of the flavours seemed a bit confused)

Course 3 

crayfish canneloni with roast king prawn, steamed baby leeks, chives and citrus burnt butter (9/10 - this was voted top dish of the night)

roast pumpkin ravioli, with peas, rocket, brussel sprouts and sage butter (8/10 for its beautiful combination of fine flavours)

Course 4

line caught oven roasted hapuka with chorizo and scallops, and brussel sprouts (7/10 - fish was moist, flavoursome and well cooked)

slow cooked lamb with a solid square of mint jelly and rosemary jus (six and a half out of ten - Amie not so keen on this one, but Bec and I raved about it)

Course 5

two beef portions on the one plate: a beef cheek on beetroot puree, plus a cape grim scotch fillet on a spinach puree, with speck, potato gratin, baby leeks and mushroom slices (this was a huge serving for a dego, and I was stonkered by this stage, so sampled a small amount of meat but honestly could not do justice to such a generous serving. The girls finally settled on 6/10, as they too admitted to being overwhelmed at this stage too! Amie was disenchanted by the beef cheeks, and to be honest they weren't as tender as many I have had in the past)

Course 6

grilled rannoch farm quail with persian spices and a salad of shaved zucchini, mint currants and pine nuts (8/10 - a dish of lovely fine flavours, especially the spices on the quail)

Course 7

was a small selection of shared desserts which included a scoop of salted caramel and peanut ice cream, HGC's version of cheesecake, a choc truffle, a choc ball filled with a heavenly runny filling which could have been salted caramel (which I accidentally ate all of, so the girls didn't get to sample that one! Sorry girls!), a choc/nut spider and a white choc triangle (this one we voted as the most unimpressive dish of the night, so it only earned five and a half out of ten.

To sum up:
  • Service was excellent, thanks to Tia and all staff
  • Wine was a bit mismatched but mostly good
  • The food overall we rated as 7/10

It is a shame that locals wouldn't immediately think of Restaurant Tasman as a dining out venue, as I feel that with the addition of a few more locally-occupied tables each night, it could become one of our options for fine dining.

Might I humbly suggest that if you have a special event to celebrate, you consider HGC as a very viable option, and a welcome addition to the spectrum of excellently produced local food.

The dego price was extremely reasonable at $120 per person with the matched wines, and between $75-80 with no wine. Our total bill was $330.50. Excellent value for a wonderful meal.
Posted on by Rita


Deb C said...

I so love the idea of degustation menu's but as a lapbander my stomach is small and I cannot take in 7 serves. The meals actually look large for a degustation, I could probably do two courses. I go for taste platters where I can which offers me the great food I love in a small simple package. But how I would love to try this one and especially Garagistes degustation, which many have raved about... oh well.

PS Good to see you are a bit better. Hope you fill out again so you don't need a whole new wardrobe!

Victor said...

Hey, Rita! Great to see you back, eating out and reviewing the food again (with a vengeance eh? LOL).

You are right. I rarely consider eating out at a hotel's restaurant in Australia. But, do eat at hotel's restaurant when overseas. I guess hotel's restaurant has that kinda atmosphere of serving average food meal, not creative or stylish to pay that kind of premium price plus surcharges. But, you may have prove me wrong with your review of HGC and some of the dishes' presentation looked stylish enough for me to want to try.

Welcome back!

Anonymous said...

Hi Rita,

Glad to see you are well and reviewing again.

Interesting goss in your side bar there.

A 300 seat restaurant on Bruny? What a totally stupid idea. For 9 months of the year, Bruny Island has a population of 500 people. That's it. Summer months, plenty of tourists and backpackers, they eat at the cafes, they don't want overpriced crap from a huge restaurant.

Happy to see something new in Taroona, there once was a shopping centre there, EVERY single shop went under.

Slowly, but surely. Diedre in at the post office, Len at the butchers, Rob at the supermarket... They all went bankrupt.

It was with much sadness I read Sir Grumpy's comment about Dom's Asian Teahouse closing. Another one bites the dust.

Can business owners chip in here? Is it just my observation and what I hear on the news, or is the economy actually totally buggered?

As for the best burger competition, get a life for Gods sake. It's a fucking burger, how good does it have to be?

What next, a PFD sponsored cooking competition - who can fry up the best chips?

Drysdale has been unravelling at an alarming rate for years, not surprising that someone has seen an opportunity to open a quality institution. And good on them.

Brett Atkinson said...

Hi Rita

Good to see you're back on deck - interesting times on Bruny...


Brett Atkinson
Lonely Planet

Ferry Man said...

Where did the gossip "Rob Pennicott's proposed 300-seater restaurant on Bruny is facing some opposition from locals." come from? I can't find any media coverage of it.

Perhaps its in the same league as the "Shock at wind farm plan for Bruny".

Rita said...

Thanks all, for your warm welcome back into the reviewing fold!
A few things I omitted in my review:
After a noisy bunch of teenaged schoolkids departed (having eaten from the buffet), then a table of 2 in-house guests, we were the sole occupants of the restaurant. How frustrating for kitchen staff.
Also I think our portions were quite big compared to other degos I have had.

Rita said...

Ferry Man - the gossip about the 300 seater restaurant came from a very reliable source, and also rang true for me as I vaguely remembered reading somewhere that Rob P was planning a restaurant there, but I hadn't been aware of the 300 seat aspect. Maybe the clue is in the word 'gossip' but I try to validate what I add to that sidebar. I am more than happy to take it back if indeed it is merely gossip, and not fact at all!

Anonymous said...

Hes a smile for the cameras empire-builder that Pennicot fellow not unlike his compadre on the tier a few levels below, Mr Bruny Island himself, Haddlow.
Whilst those that have done Pennicots excellent tour will wince at the amateur food offered at his base camp, perhaps a sensible re-thinking of his food operations might be all that is required to get it up to parr?
Show me in Tas where a 300 seater works? All of the Forestry Tas cafes/food outlets are white elephants including Port Arthur(OK I know its not Forrestry Tas)
The ferry cafe at Kettering cant eek out a living for crying out loud!

Ferry Man said...

Anon 6.50 - I think that you'll find Nic's surname is Haddow.

The Ferry Road Store, Kettering, closed abruptly recently and is up for auction next month.

I wouldn't have thought the Mermaid Cafe was having trouble making ends meet though. If they are then the end of the world is nigh.

Rita - I think that the fact that there is no other reference to "a 300 seat restaurant on Bruny" in the entire Google-sphere is sufficient grounds to render the gossip worthless.

lemon curd said...

I googled 'pennicott restaurant bruny island' and got this as the third link

Rita said...

Thank you Lemon Curd for that timely snippet of info. I wasn't going to bother following up Ferry Man's claim that there was no trace of this on the "Google-sphere", and was planning on ignoring his apparent sarcasm, but you have now verified I am not a stupid person who has lost the plot, and decides to make gossip up!
Come on FM - play nicely and say sorry to Rita!

Anonymous said...

Ferry Rd Store has been for sale for ages bur were asking too much in my opinion. I've heard that many food operators are doing it tough in the Channel and Huon.
The one exception I've heard is the Kettering hotel which has certainly dented the market share that PB once enjoyed.
Apparently BI Cheese is expanding its food offering and I agree that Rob Pennicots plans for a 300 seater are nuts-esp in this climate. Also many businesses are currently not able to attract and keep staff and one would presume a venue of this size will need a lot of them.
Whilst he public face of Pennicot might be glowing the islands residents are divided in their praise-some see him as an opportunist whilst others view him as BI's saviour

Ferry man said...

Sorry Rita. I never thought you made it up. Just that you may have been the victim of a gossip monger.

Thanks lemon curd. I'll be interested to see how his development application goes!

Anonymous said...

Glad to see u out and about again rita.
And even better to finally recieve a review for HGC.
As an employee in Restaurant Tasman i believe that reviews such as yours will be a great help to business and my sanity (during the quiet months. Dego's can be offered in any amount of courses desire and any menu items can be made into tasting menu's.(prices vary) also sorry to see your beef portion was too big for your liking, it appears to be a little larger then normal.
Again Thanks and keep up the good work!