Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Point, at Wrest Point

Tasmania is a beautiful place in which to live. Hobart, as its capital city, is equally as beautiful, especially at night, and especially when viewed from the top (17th) floor of Wrest Point’s revolving The Point restaurant.

When eating at The Point, one must acknowledge that the high price of menu items is most certainly due to the fact that you are eating in what could arguably be classed as a top restaurant, and destination. Hence, for a customer to emerge from the restaurant hours later feeling slightly let down is ideally not the way management intended your experience to end.

I have eaten countless meals in countless restaurants, as the reviews on this blog will attest. The standards and prices have varied tremendously, and I think you could generally say that price bears little resemblance to enjoyment level, standard of food served and service, however it does affect your feelings about a place. Comparing our dinner last night at The Point to, for instance, my lunch on Tuesday at Meadowbank, I found Meadowbank winning hands down for food quality and value for money. As restaurants, they are of a similar standard, both having fabulous views of the surrounding areas, with the menus in both restaurants containing dishes which are reasonably similar. But the food, and imagination of the menu, at The Point certainly did not justify the final bill amount, which was twice the amount paid at Meadowbank.

I was given an Entertainment Card for my birthday in April, and this was the first time I have used it. The bill came to $288.50 (from memory) but my card discount pared it back to $238.50. Bec had three glasses of wine, then a cocktail afterwards, and I had three mocktails, which I might add were absolutely stunning – the best part of the night for me really!

When I called to book our meal, I was asked to provide my full name, which I did. The receptionist then asked me if I would like to utilise their valet parking service, free of charge. She told me all I would need to do was drive to the front door of Wrest Point, then the porter would take my keys and park the car for me. Most impressed, I immediately agreed to this proposal. I decided this generous offer was going straight to the blog – till I realized later, having questioned one of the waitstaff on the subject of the valet parking, that Federal, being such a large organization as they are, obviously have online profiles of customers and their past dealings with Federal, so if the receptionist bought up my profile on the computer whilst talking to me, it would have been notated that Federal had arranged my trip to the Country Club, and meal at The Terrace, hence naming me as notorious food blogger Rita! I would guess that the offer of the valet parking wouldn’t be made to everyone who called to book dinner at The Point – but would love that to be the case, as I believe that is a fantastic drawcard for a restaurant these days. If any of the restaurants in the North Hobart or Salamanca strip offered me that, I would dine there every time. To be able to evade having to cruise the area for 20 minutes looking for a car parking spot would be the best incentive to dine somewhere, I reckon!

The menu describes the food as “French inspired cuisine”, with the website proclaiming that Chef de Cuisine Kent Sullivan says “When I speak French, it always sounds delicious! Perhaps it’s because our menu is an innovative mixture of traditional French cuisine, complemented by our own Tasmanian twist”.         

We ate:
Slow cooked pork belly, with pumpkin puree, dates, pumpkin seeds and coriander ($23)
Seared Tasmanian salmon, with leek crepe, caviar cream sauce and chives ($27.50)
Roasted white clover lamb rack served with spiced lamb sausage, white bean puree, baby carrots, leeks, rosemary oil and garlic sauce ($46)
Market fish (blue eye) pan fried, with garlic risotto, scallop beignets, snow pea tendrils and chorizo ($39)
Pommes frites (chips) ($10)
Wild baby rocket leaves, crisp pear, shaved parmesan and French dressing ($10)
Lemon and gin brulee, with sloe gin gel, pepperberry shortbread, elderberry parfait and mint sherbet ($18)

The courses were all satisfactory. Not bad, but not fabulous either.  They sounded fine on first reading the menu, but the letdown was the presentation, and flavours when eating.

We want to come along on the culinary journey with you, chef, so it’s up to you to establish the link between the food, and the various flavours you have dictated we eat. Engage us in that culinary conversation, please. I found it impossible to work out exactly what benefit the mint sherbet added to the dessert, or how we were meant to eat it. It was served as a thin line of white sherbet down one side of the plate, opposite the brulee. Was it intended to have the brulee spoonful dipped into in en route to the mouth? We just licked our fingers, dipped them into the sherbet and tasted it. It was OK, on its own, but I couldn’t see the point of it, given that the dessert contained so many other fine flavours – ie the gin, the pepperberry and the elderberry. I have never taken drugs, so am not sure which drug it is being taken when you see people on TV going into toilets, arranging white powder with their credit cards then inhaling it through their noses, but that’s the mental picture which instantly came to my mind when I observed the sherbet on the plate! I really don’t think chef would have been impressed with my reaction!

The service was flawless. We were so well attended that we had three separate waitstaff independently checking as to whether we’d had our drink order taken yet, and if not, would we care for one/another. In this laissez faire era, where the general service attitude seems to be “take us or leave us”, I found that example of over-service-ing refreshing.

However, as we have discussed many times on this blog in the past, the enjoyment of a meal means that the full package must be addressed – so the food, as well as the service must be fabulous, and unfortunately the food simply did not match the service at The Point.

Posted on by Rita


rockoyster said...

Are you *sure* it was sherbet?

A wise old man once told me "Never eat in a restaurant that goes round or floats".

My only dining experience at Wrest Point has been the downstairs cafeteria-style joint. I thought it was tops in value and quality.

dillon said...

Had our best meal in Tassie at the The Point, when Luke Stepsys was chef there. His food was new, exciting, yet still delicious. No over garnishing and the main ingredient was the star , not just in shreds or a slivered or a dust.
There were elements of "molecular" food there, but they were fun and you could taste and enjoy the main ingredient.
We loved the revolving, showing off Hobart on a perfect moonlit night. As I said best meal experience, and then he was gone and looks like the Point is back to being pointless as a dining venue.

chloc said...

I guess the menu isn't inspiring however it was defenitly very nice and as you say the service devine! In Hobart it is so hard to have a meal with a view so it was a very nice change. Also - when I booked I was offered the vallet parking option as well and have no reason to be on their books for any special treatment so I think this is common practice - and as you say - makes for a very good first impresssion!

I would be more than happy to go back for a special occasion as I feel it is a place to go to feel pampered and enjoy the company of others and just enjoy the food - perhaps not look at it to hard. This is big coming from me - a massive foody :)