Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Stackings restaurant at Peppermint Bay, Woodbridge

 The clam first course (above)

 Second course of cray, occy etc above

 Third course: the confit lamb belly and anchovy

 The fish

 The wagyu

 Wild bolivian chokky

 Pistachio cake, being equally as wild!

The boys gossiping.....

Well – it’s Rita here, eating the proverbial humble pie as I admit to being reasonably tentative about lunching at The Stackings, at Peppermint Bay (Woodbridge), yesterday.

I was basing my judgement on my last meal at PB, when I took some foreign visitors down there for lunch, heaping much praise on the place as we drove to Woodbridge. Imagine my embarrassment when the meal turned out to be very ordinary, and the service ditto. My visitors loved the place itself (who wouldn’t?) but as for the meal…..nope!

But that was over a year ago, and we had eaten in the bar, so today boded well with excellent friend and fellow blogger Steve Cumper volunteering to accompany me to lunch in The Stackings, which is only open (for lunches, no dinners) Friday to Monday.

Prior to going there yesterday, I hadn’t met chef David Moyle before, plus I knew that David was one of three southern Tasmanian finalists in Country Style magazine’s Country Chef of the year (which mate Steve won last year), the other two being Wayne Smith from Meadowbank, and John T Bailey from the Banc restaurant in Swansea.

I was curious – about both the food, and this mythical David Moyle that I had heard so much about. Steve has often spoken to me about him. Respected restaurant critics have raved about his food. So here I found myself – at the font of Moyle hero-worship, dying to know exactly what all the fuss was about.

There were two choices for lunch: a 3 course set menu ($65) or a 5 course set menu ($85). Naturally the two biggest pigs in Tassie opted for the 5 courses!

The meal started with clams, nettle custard and wild garlic. This plate set the standard for the rest of the meal, and left us eagerly anticipating the next course. It was simply perfect. The clams – not too salty or gritty; the nettle custard (I can’t believe I’m going to say this!) was out-of-this-world; the wild garlic topped it off perfectly.

Next came my absolute favourite course (in hindsight): octopus, crayfish, charred eggplant, pickles and wood sorrel. This plate was a veritable work of art, and, as pointed out by the three lovely ladies at the table next to us, appealed to those major vital senses – seeing and tasting. The occy was beautifully smokey so blended in well, taste-wise, with the charred eggplant flavor. It was definitely one of those dishes you need to savour each single thing on the plate individually, not load up your fork with a bit of everything.

Could he top this? Hmmm….maybe. The confit lamb belly, with anchovy and raddichio fought for top place in our tummies. The anchovy went SO well with the lamb, which was tender (on the inside) where it needed to be, and crisp (on the outside) where it needed to be.

Can this meal get any better? We had reached what could loosely be termed the ‘mains’ now. There were two options, so we decided to order one of each, so we could sample both. The Hammond farm wagyu, smoked onion, horseradish and mustard leaf was good, but the poached striped trumpeter, broccoli, dried olive and miners lettuce was superb. I had forgotten, till I sampled the fish, exactly what fish used to taste like “when I was a girl”! Both Steve and I agreed this was a standout dish.

To finish off, there was a pistachio cake, lemon jelly and goat curd for me, and a wild bolivian chocolate with prune and lavender for Steve. We wanted a big sugar hit at the end, but neither of these two desserts provided it, unfortunately. It didn’t matter. The meal was absolutely fabulous, and it was blindingly obvious why David Moyle’s food is so revered.

David came out of the kitchen into the restaurant after we had finished, and sat down to chat. An hour later, we were still chatting, and thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Our 12.30 booking ended at 4.45, with all of us dispersing to rejoin the world of normality.

It’s an extremely tough call to try and work out who will win the Country Style Tassie chef award this year. I for one will be watching out for the results most eagerly.

Meanwhile on my list of top Tassie restaurants, The Stackings is right up there. For anyone interested in locally sourced and foraged food, as well as fine flavours, get down there as a matter of priority. The closest you’ll come to when comparing David’s food, is Luke Burgess’ food at Garagistes. If you’re a Luke fan, you’ll love David’s food. As Steve says, it’s good when the food doesn’t reflect the fiscal jackboot on the chefs throat!
Posted on by Rita


Hazel said...

Thanks for sharing Rita. I saw Steve's photo on twitter, didn't realise he had you as his partner in crime!
What a beautiful day for lunch at PB. LIke you we've been burnt in the many change-overs of management at PB, with some downright rude service in the past. Once one of our favourite Friday night haunts we haven't been in years (a shame as it's only 10 mins down the road from us now). We may brave it soon.

bri said...

That looks and sounds amazing!

steve said...

Hi Rita, it was a delicious meal, my favourites were the clams, the lamb and the fish-all exquisite. it was strange to eat there as a punter after those years being on the other side. It's such a beautiful dining room and deserves to be filled

Vineyard Paul said...


rockoyster said...

Had lunch today at KT's Café in Barrack Street. Enjoyed it immensely. $22.50 for lunch and coffee for two! Might try Stackings when the tax cheque arrives.

Anonymous said...

comparing that cafe with a restaurantlike this is a bit daft

Mr Manne said...

I agree - its almost like comparing Andrew Bolt to a principled journalist.

steve said...

on comparisons: I look like a bloated bullfrog to Davids tadpole-if only jowel size was comenserite to skinny-jean size...?

Anonymous said...

You make the point about restaurant reviewing yourself
Rita when you mention how ordinary Peppermint Bay was when you went incognito. Having worked many years in hospitality I know very well how the food critic system works. Food writer comes in, chef is alerted,and from that minute on the total focus is on that one table. Sure David Moyle is a very good chef, but for me the mark of a very good restaurant is when a great meal is produced EVERYDAY for EVERYONE. This should be the mark to judge a restaurant by, not when one is pulled out of the hat for that special person.

steve said...

Hi Anonymous. The two other tables that were eating lunch that day both congratulated Dave and his team for the wonderful lunch they enjoyed. From where I sat, the food we enjoyed was exactly the same as the food these people ate.
It was apperent to me that we were not treated differently to any of the other diners except of course as I know Dave and he came out to say g'day at the conclusion of the meal.

Tassiegal said...

Glad to see Stackings has upped its game again. It used to be amazing, and then went downhill. Will have to visit when I come back on hols.

Michelle said...

Fabulous write up with gorgeous pictures...can't wait to get there!

Victor said...

Hi Rita, glad to see you and Steve out eating at PB. We love it since I happened to drop in at the pub while showing our interstate friends the area. I was splendidly surprise that the food was so much better than I could remember a couple years ago. Since then, we have been back another 3 times before I moved to Melb. That was before the several recent accolades for the restaurant and David M. The only regret was we haven't tried The Stacking yet. Th price certainly has gone up. But, that won't stop me from eating there when I go home for a 2 weeks visit during Christmas/ New Year.