Saturday, 26 November 2011

No doctor needed for a meal at the Syntax

Another meal out proved, once again, the old adage that you can’t judge a book by its cover!

Thursday night’s meal was at the Doctor Syntax, formerly the Doctor Syntax, and more recently known as the Bay Hotel, in Sandy Bay Road, Sandy Bay.

I reviewed this venue a few years ago in its incarnation, at the time, as the Bay Hotel Bar and Grill, and thoroughly enjoyed my meal.

So here we found ourselves, two years later, down the Bay at the Syntax again, in a renovation of the renovation! And you wonder why us old hospitality veterans are cynical?

We were given a warm welcome by mine host Tom, the thoroughly charismatic and hands-on Irish licensee at the Syntax. Tom is one of those rare hospitality breed who work and operate in hospitality the way (ideally) everyone should. That is to say he speaks to everyone present; he is constantly on the prowl dividing his time equally between the bar and the restaurant, ensuring all is going to (his) plan; he helps out clearing back tables as required; he is in the kitchen making sure all is going well there; he is chatting to acquaintances in the bar and restaurant; he is shoring up sponsorship deals with cricket clubs in the nicest possible way whilst chatting with cricket club customers; he is behind the bar serving drinks supporting the busy barperson; he is manning the till taking payments. In short, he’s everywhere, being helpful, courteous and efficient, in fact, every inch earning the title of the true ‘mine host’!

Tom was the guy who served our table last year when I reviewed the degustation meal at Cooleys, so I was already familiar with his work. He has since worked at the Black Buffalo then Waratah until his offer of licensee-ship at Syntax. His previous experiences have obviously benefitted him (and, indirectly, us as customers), rather than turn him into one of your usual managers who sit on their butts ordering staff around and not contributing a single thing to the procedure, or managing to look supremely efficient and hardworking whilst actually doing jack-shit!

Pork belly and scallops
 And so, to the food……four of us were dining, and two were ravenous so ordered the duo of dips with olives, sundried tomatoes, fetta and warm crusty bread ($12.50). There were, as per menu description, two dips, one of which was reasonably unidentifiable (we think it might have been some kind of fishy dip, with its fawn colour not providing any specific clues) and a roasted capsicum dip which was actually quite good. It probably filled a gap for the starving ones, but as nibble platters go, it was pretty standard.

The groundbreaking, earth-shattering course was the mains. Never, in all my days of eating out (and, as this blog will testify, at all manner of restaurants, cafes and pubs), have I experienced as perfect and genuine a meal as all our meals at the Syntax.

Two of us had the Syntax chicken breast parmigiana ($22). It was, quite simply, stunning. How hard can it be for a pub to buy chicken breast, crumb it, add a slice of ham and cheese, and call it a parmy? Apparently way too hard, as this is the first time I have ever seen a genuine, house-made parmy such as this in a pub! I tasted it and was sorry I hadn’t ordered it.

Meanwhile I was stuck with the Pork belly and scallops with Vietnamese salad and zesty orange dressing ($26.50)! It was a sacrifice but I managed to finish it in record time! It was easily, head and shoulders, above ANY pub meal I have had, anywhere, any time. A big call, but I’m making it today! The pork was perfectly done, and matched mate Steve’s (Cumper) menu pork belly, which I have previously considered unbeatable. The salad was exactly what the doctor (!!) ordered, the day having been a gorgeous, summer-y, sunny day, resulting in a desire to eat something filling but light-ish for dinner. It had the requisite amount of chilli and sweet, and matched the meat/shellfish component perfectly.

The fourth main was a brie and garlic stuffed chicken breast  ($26.50) wrapped in bacon, served with a lemon risotto cake and topped with a creamy white wine cheese sauce, served with a medley of perfectly roasted and seasoned fresh vegetables. The serving was way too big a serve, even for a hungry guy, but he loved it. Possibly the risotto cake could have been smaller and less thick so it was more like a biscuit than a cake! But the quality and standard of food was right up there, and I intend to make this my local from now on.

My chef niece was there earlier in the week and had the salt and pepper calamari ($17) with chips, salad and tartare, and attested to the fabulous-ness of their meals there as well.

We topped off a perfect meal with sticky date pudding (once again, a huge serving)  with hot butterscotch sauce and ice cream at $9, plus an ice cream sundae ($7) and a chefs special kahlua parfait (approx $10). All the desserts were sweet, unctuous and appropriate to top off a meal which ended another perfect day in paradise! I wholeheartedly recommend the ‘new’ Syntax to anyone who wants to eat great food at a very reasonable price, and get great service with it as well.

To sum up, as I said at the beginning, if you think you’re going to get yet another pub meal at Syntax, think again!

Doctor Syntax Hotel
139 Sandy Bay Road
Sandy Bay 7005
Ph: 6223 6258
Posted on by Rita


Dale Reardon - Tasmanian Relocation Consultant - Check us out for Tasmanian information said...


We have just recently moved into Sandy Bay near the Syntax. I can't wait to get there now and try it for ourselves.


Duck Leg said...

I am in two minds about this one! I went there for a meal with a friend and had a Chicken Parmy and my friend the chicken breast you mentioned both meals were FANTASTIC. So after that i convinced my work to hold staff drinks there on a friday afternoon with platters of food - all booked 2 weeks in advance. We go there and asked the food to come out and it was nearly an hour between the two platters coming out to us. My main disappointment was that we went to buy 4 bottles of wine for the table and they only had 2 bottles of chardonnay in the fridge and a couple of half bottles of other various wine! I told the bar staff my disappointment as we had booked this well in advance and they knew we would be buying beer and wine for the group. It was very sad that after i had finally gone up to see if they had anything else they could serve us that about 2 hours after we had arrived - i again mentioned to him that it really was not acceptable and the business could have made more money out of us with drinks, if they had had them. Credit to him as soon as we had mentioned this for a second time he rushed to the bottle shop to get some wine - unfortunately the group had started leaving due to the lack of wine available.
So all in all i was disappointed and would not book a group there again but as for the food it really is 5 stars!!

Nicky Bawle said...

Hi "Duck Leg"

My name is Nicky Bawle. My husband Tom (identified in this article) and I have recently taken on the lease of the Doctor Syntax Hotel - by recently, we re-opened the doors on Tuesday 1st November!

I'm really glad to hear that you loved the meal that you had during your visit as when we took over we did not change the chef and he in turn has not made any major changes to what we believe is a fantastic menu.

In response to your disappointing experience with a lack of available wine (of any description by the sounds of it!), I would firstly like to issue our apologies on behalf of the venue, however I also wanted to let you know that we are running a sound business with a very well stocked bar. We welcome functions and groups and would be very disappointed if your experience under the former lease holders dissuades you from returning.

To that end I would like to offer you a $25 meal voucher with our compliments in the hope that you will come back and have a meal and while you are there perhaps have a look at our extensively stocked bar fridges!! Please go in and make yourself known to Tom.

Thank you for your feedback as if we don't know then we don't know!!

Hoping to see you soon.

Nicky Bawle
(on behalf of the Doctor Syntax Hotel)

Duck Leg said...

Hi Nicky,

Thank you for clearing this up. I do not wish to take you up on your voucher of $25 as it was the whole group that lucked out and not just me. I have looked back at the date of our function and it was in Mid October (perhaps in the middle of the change over?)- and this seems to be before your 'take over'date. I did not write the post to be offered anything, merely I found it so interesting that the kitchen had it sorted but the bar was lacking and in my experience it usually is the other way around.
I do hope you succeed in running the DR Syntax and i will be sure to come back for a meal.

Nicky Bawle said...

Thank you for your response - much appreciated. Please do make yourself known to Tom when you are next down and we very much look forward to welcoming you back to the Doctor.
Kind regards

tassieblather said...

Booked there tomorrow night. Most interested.

Larissa said...

Hmmm…Sounds delicious. I would love to grab this! Hope to visit the place soon.