Friday, 6 January 2012

Italian Pantry, Fish Frenzy, Warung Indonesian, Maning Reef Cafe, James Squires

Welcome 2012!
It’s a busy time of year, but I wanted to share a few brief summations of some places I have eaten at over the past month. No photos and no in-depth reviewing, but brief and to-the-point.

Italian Pantry, Federal St, North Hobart – excellent. Big tick
Fish Frenzy, Elizabeth St Pier, city – an oldie but a goodie, still great. Another big tick
Warung Indonesian, Harrington St – most disappointing
Maning Reef Café, Sandy Bay Road – fabulous little venue for a casual fish-orientated lunch (and, of course, their famous Huon Valley Tempura Mushrooms!). Best enjoyed on a sunny day so you can capitalize on the outside ambience!
Taste of Tasmania – excellent reno to a tired old building. Absolutely loved the centre itself but still had trouble sifting through the various foods on offer. Marinated octopus from Charlotte at Cable Station was easily my favourite.
James Squires in Salamanca – had heard their food was great but hadn’t expected it to be THAT great! Thoroughly enjoyed our meals there. Well done Scott Butler! Huge tick

Happy eating!

Posted on by Rita


Nuf Sed said...

Hey Rita -

Firstly, Happy new year. Wishing you all the best for good health throughout 2012 and beyond, hope you have a good year.

Every year, commenters here have a little bitch about the taste - here's mine ... And I'm interested to see what other say.

Ill try to keep it brief.

- Firstly, Fuck. I had to pay $7 for a plastic wine glass to drink 150mls of wine that cost $6. Problem? Yep, its a rip off.

- Clean skin wines. Look this event is meant to be about show casing Tassies best produce to local and interstate punters. flogging of $2 bottles of clean skin wines at inflated retail prices really does nothing for tourism in our state - except contribute to the major disappointment felt by everyone.

- Bogan tight arses. Look when I go to the movies, I pay. When I go to a concert, I pay. When I go to an event, I pay. Why is the taste of Tasmania free? Make everyone chuck a gold coin in a bucket at the door - the only people who won't don't actually spend any moeny at the taste anyway. I paid $85 for my taste ticket on NYE. I subsidise bogans.

- Apparently Hobart rate payers have to subsidise this event. Refer to above.

- Why is there pointless crap? Such lack of variety. Mures, Fish Frenzy are there selling deep fried fish right near each other, when their retail premises are a 1min walk from the shed. There were 4 people selling fish and chips for christs sakes.

- Toilets were shit. If you are going to run an event, either get proper toilets and clean them - or don't run the event.

- Stage area totally isolated. Poorly designed. No passers by will go near it.

- Too many desert places./ Really, we dont need 5 different places selling pancakes with berries.

- Places that weren't acutally serving tas produce -- why were you even there??

.... Thats all.

Let the debate rage.

sir grumpy said...

Didn't you have a pint at Squire's Rita?

Rita said...

Hi Nuf Sed - Thanks for your good wishes, and I send the same back to you. I think I covered most of those issues you raised on my (personal) Facebook discussions about Taste, so am on record as writing about it, particularly the fact that I simply can't understand why restaurants in the close vicinity to Taste have a stall at Taste. It seems, and always has seemed, to me to be ridiculous. Obviously profit is the driver, but still...

Sir G - first comment from you for the year, and lovely to see! No, I didn't have a pint at Squires. I didn't even have a half pint, as I am on a strict fluid restriction of 1 litre per day, and must measure this out cautiously! I DID have a lovely time though. Their salt and pepper squid entree was head and shoulders above any I have previously had, anywhere. I will definitely be back there soon for more of the same.
We went down to Salamanca to experience the final night of Taste, but found it way too crowded and noisy so went across to Salamanca to spend the same amount of money sitting comfortably, getting waited on hand and foot, in the peace and quiet of Squires. It was heaven!

Deb C said...

Squires does a triple choc mousse with amaretto to die for but not for those watching their cholesterol I wager!

Was Salamanca way on the weekend and ordered antipasto platter, tempura mushroom and garlic pizza from Barcelona. First two were great (platter even had pork belly and came with dips and bread) but Barcelona couldn't offer us sweets in under 1 1/2 hours so ended up going to Salvette for coffee and peacan pie (friend had luscious mars bar cheesecake) for $11 - bargain! Recommended for the cheaper cup and sweet.

sir grumpy said...

I agree with most of your comments, Nuf Sed, especially the fish and chip frenzy!
However, making an analogy of paying for a movie to paying at taste dowsn't,er, add up.
You pay to see the movie and get it.
You go to Taste and then pay for the food.
You wouldn't go to the movies, pay to get in and then pay for the movie, would you?
Me, I avoid it all because I don't like Taste. I simply have no taste!

Anonymous said...

The Taste is a joke.
Can anyone seriously tell me that the food on offer is the best that the State can produce?
Its a swill-fest and all the deepfried stuff is the most popular

Anonymous said...

Very average meal at Dede Indonedian-everything so so sweet.
Ordered a specialty chicken dish to find it dry and tossed with what seemed to be just sweet chilli sauce and Sambal Olek?

Christina said...

We had a great omelette for breakfast yesterday at WTF cafe in Bellerive. Its a bit off the beaten track, to the side of the carpark behind the post office opposite Eastlands, but worth the look. I would go so far as to say it's the best omelette I've ever had! The cafe advertises itself as mexican but other food is available also. Fantastic service too!

Nuf Sed said...

Christina and all,

Do you know what WTF stands for???

Why on earth would you call a cafe that! wow

sir grumpy said...

Hey, anon re the ``sweet'' food at the Indon place.
I haven't been there but my local Chinese place changed hands recently and the food is like a sugar bowl.
In fact I only learned it had been bought by a new guy, with new chef, after talking to the waitress we have known for a long time about the sweet food.
And the beef is tough as hell. I won't order any beef dishes now.
But it's the sweetness that gets me. I talked to the new guy about it and he said he would make it less sweet for me.
I said Chinese food is about savoury, not sweet (apart from sweet and sour and honey chilli chicken).
When we went back he said he'd adjust it and the missus said hers was less sweet.
But it bloody well shouldn't be sweet at all, well not chicken chop suey!
It amazes me to see most of the TV chefs add tablespoons of white sugar to counteract soy and fish sauce. Why, use less of the soy/fish sauce to achieve balance in the first place.
No wonder I mostly cook my own. Some of those Thai green curry chicken takeaways with their gluugy, sweet coconut creamy sauces make me want to puke.
So I just don't do Thai, Malay, Indon or Singaporean in Hobart anymore.
Now it looks as if the sugar bug has hit my beloved Chinese cuisine. Do they dumb it down for the Coca-Cola generation?
Even young blokes can't handle a savoury brew, they go for cans of cola and Jim Beam etc.
What a pain in the arse.

Wishful thinking said...

Nuf Sed, your thoughts on the deep-fried fish extravaganza at the Taste and eateries which are 1 minutes' stroll away match mine exactly. Add Devil's Kitchen which is another 1 minute's walk up to Sandy Bay Rd. It does make me wonder who the Taste is catering to: locals? we can walk into those takeaway joints anytime through the year. tourists? if so, how is deep fried fish representative of Tasmanian food and produce? how is it different to the fish and chips they can get back at home?

Boofhead said...

James Squire salt and pepper squid at lunch time today was all batter and bugger all squid. Precious little salt and not a hint of pepper (szechuan or otherwise) for that matter.

It's not a bad spot for an ale on a hot day though.

Anonymous said...

My squid today had eff all batter & nowt salt n pepper

Christina said...

We've been regular Squires goers for a couple of years now and I must say, with regret, that our last visit a month ago was a let down. Average food with above average prices was our general feeling.
They used to have a bar menu with a selection of smaller dishes, but this was unavailable as the manager said he was in the process of making changes. I think some of the dishes are over priced but the bar menu was great value, and I hope it's back now.
I must say the service has always been fantastic and I am always greeted warmly each time I return.

Christina said...

Hey Rita, I wasn't sure where to put this so I decided under the heading with various restaurants would suffice.

Last night Phil and I had the real pleasure of dining at Hejo's Chinese Restaurant. It's located at 1/80 Elizabeth St., opposite Banjos in town.
What a find. Always a good sign when you walk in and 3 out of the other four tables seated were filled with Chinese people.
We ordered Steamed BBQ Pork Buns and Prawn Rice Noodle rolls for entrees. While the noodle rolls were great, they were overshadowed by the fantastic Pork Buns. They were to die for.
For mains we ordered Deep Fried Chicken Chilli Pot and a half Roast Duck, steamed rice and stir fried seasonal chinese greens, which last night was Kangkong,(water spinach), which I had heard of but never tried.
To say our meal was awesome is an understatement. So NOT your regular chinese from the local Chinese restaurant. The chiili chicken was super hot and tasty as, the duck sliced, crispy skin to perfection and I had to have it when I saw the row of ducks hanging in the kitchen. The kangkong was superb and just cooked beautifully. We were told the vegetable dishes changes often with whats seasonal at the time.

The service was fantastic. As we had lots of questions our waitress was only too happy to explain the menu to us and recommend dishes.
The entrees were ordered off a yumcha menu,(22 items)will be returning to try more of these.
I couldn't recommend this restaurant more highly.

Rita said...

Re James Squires - sounds like I'll have to return and have another meal there, to test their consistency, ot lack thereof. Recent diners sound here on this blog to be unhappy with their meals, particularly the squid which I praised to high heaven to everyone who would listen!
Hejos must be another one to put on my list of 'must go to' restaurants, thanks Christina. It sounds like it's on the site of the old Thai Hut which I LOVED!
Haven't heard anything else about your WTF cafe/restaurant though.

Anonymous said...

Yes Rita, it is the old Thai Hut. I thought of you while we were there, and I'm sure you'll be impressed. As you can tell we loved it!
Hope you're doing well and feeling fine my friend. Must be nearly time for another catch up.
Must tell you also I'm off to a Delicious lunch at Stillwater next Friday and CANNOT wait!