Thursday, 14 February 2013

Raincheck Lounge Feb 2013

Had an absolutely superb and faultless dinner at Raincheck Lounge in North Hobart last night.

This little gem is scruffy, noisy and mostly busy, with arguably the most uncomfortable chairs in town but, boy, do they turn out some fabulous food! It’s a place that, for me, is totally under the radar. It’s been there for years, and most times I’ve arranged to meet someone there, it’s been so full we have had to find somewhere else on the North Hobart strip to eat, so I usually totally discount it as a possible eating destination.

Luckily, my mate Deb persuaded me to eat there last night, but I did have the alternative venue of Mulan across the road if they were too busy at Raincheck!

The occasion was just like an episode of the old TV sitcom “Cheers” as I walked in to be greeted enthusiastically by Shane (ex-Gondwana, ex-Smolt, ex-many other assorted Hobart restaurants) who I hadn’t seen for quite a few years. This being small Hobart, just because I hadn’t seen him didn’t mean I wasn’t aware of his presence, and I have been told a few times that he was working two jobs, one of them being in the restaurant at the Airport Hotel at Cambridge. His waiting style is of casual efficiency. He manages Raincheck, and together with chef Andrew Lax (another of those locally trained great chefs who has worked at many restaurants round town) they make a formidable and effective team. I signed Andrew up into his cookery apprenticeship many years ago, so am obviously a biased fan!

Now to the food. They have a smallish menu, which includes what they call the Chefs Table, which is a special menu, changed weekly, to capitalize on currently available produce, and so regular customers (of whom I am assured there are many) won’t get bored coming often and seeing the same boring old menu items on for 3-6 months, as is the case at many other restaurants. It comprises 4 shared plates of food (plus house bread, balsamic and oil) for 2 people for $65.

Every Wednesday, the two powerbrokers at Raincheck sit down and discuss the following weeks Chefs Table menu, then Shane orders all the required ingredients. Shane tells me they have a few couples who eat there every Wednesday night so they can sample each weeks new Chefs Table offerings. Sounds like a plan to me!

Last night we ate this weeks Chefs Table specials comprising the following:
Crispy school prawns with chilli and garlic
Heirloom tomatoes, basil and pearl bocconcini salad
Confit duck leg with sweet potato rosti and sangria reduction
Crème brulee
Plus we ordered an extra plate of BBQ calamari ($12), just in case!

The school prawns were little ones, crispened up and deep fried sufficiently for us to be able to comfortably eat the whole prawn…, head, feelers etc It was a beautiful dish, and despite my fears that it would not be enough for two girls with hearty appetites, it was all good and there was plenty on the plate for both of us.
The calamari was stunning. The BBQ flavour predominated, and the flesh was not rubbery, but cooked to perfection.
My doctor has forbidden me to eat tomatoes, much as I love the tomato/basil combination, so it was left to Deb to eat that plateful – which she well and truly did!
What can you possibly do wrong with a confit duck leg? Nothing! It was tender and tasty and served on an onion braise which complemented it well.
The crème brulee finished up a perfect meal, with its signatory cracking lid top, and delightful crème patisserie beneath.

We left in a hurry when we realized it was 7.30, and time for My Kitchen Rules to start! Both being MKR tragics, we needed to get home to my place (the closest to Raincheck) asap to see the latest episode. We watched it with a nice cup of tea accompanied by a square of my freshly baked Peach Slice.

All in all, a wonderful night, with good friends, top class food and excellent service. Thank you Raincheck. Christina – you missed out big time!

POSTSCRIPT Tuesday 20th Feb 2013

Following that superb meal last Wednesday evening with friend Deb, I decided to return to RC for dinner with my daughter. We ambled into an empty restaurant (at 7.05 pm) , to be told that the kitchen closes at 7.00 pm on Monday and Tuesday nights! Make sure you don't fall into that trap, will you!

Posted on by Rita


Christina said...

Yeah, thanks for that Rita!!! It all looks so wonderful. I've been for brekky a few times on a Sunday, with a group of old school friends, and have often checked out the dinner menu. A couple of weeks ago they had flathead fillets with duck fat roasted potatoes. I'm so having that!
Glad you and Deb had a great time. Next time I promise. Though Angelos was awesome as usual.
Always had great service from Shane too. He's a real character.

Anonymous said...

You can't go wrong with Raincheck! Every time we've been we've had great food, fantastic variety, all served in a great atmosphere...and while not exactly gourmet, their chips are the best in Hobart!!

Rita said...

Erica said:
I've been following your blog on and off over the years and always enjoy your reviews.

Geoff King said...

Rita, what are your thoughts on the kerfuffle surrounding Hill Street Grocer trying to stop all other businesses operating in Hill Street using the words "Hill Street" in their business title. I've been a long term customer of Hill Street, but must admit I find this action a little over the top and as a result, won't shop their again. Your thoughts. Geoff King, Sandy Bay

Rita said...

Hi Geoff - thanks for your thoughts. Yes - I heard about this issue a few weeks ago but found it hard to believe, then read about it in the paper yesterday which confirmed those rumours. I agree with you that no one should have a copyright on a street name. It's ridiculous when there are obviously other just as well known businesses operating in that street, who are just as entitled to use the name, given that they are situated there too - except they didn't have the foresight (or cunning, or business savvy-ness?) to register the name as a copyright.

I can see where the confusion about Hill St Grocers and Hill St Butchers comes from, because Hill St Grocers acquired their own in-house butchery a few years back and were stocking their own meat products, which also could be confused with Hill St Butchers, with many people buying meat at the grocers, thinking they were buying products from the butchery along the street (obviously it makes sense to do all your shopping in the one place, if you're time-poor, which most people are). They thought they were supporting both businesses, and doing the right thing by both.

But I wouldn't go so far as to boycott Hill St Grocers over it, as I honestly only want to buy Tasmanian goods if at all possible, and they are my best local option for doing so. I live close to Hill St Grocers so it's a no-brainer for me personally.

steve said...

I think the people behind Sesasme Street might not agree with you Rita!

Rita said...

Would that be the Sesame Street, which has as some of its inhabitants Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster etc? My immediate thoughts are that maybe it's a mythical street, but I stand corrected! x

Georgia said...

Have you been to Augusto cafe in Lenah Valley lately Rita? I just enjoyed a perfect beetroot and nut risotto tonight whilst friends raved over crispy salmon. The chai brûlée and chocolate fondants were suberb. The staff are attentive and it's well priced for a great suburban eatery. Luck Lenah Valley-ites!

Kerry said...

Hi Rita,
I drop into your blog every now and then and was interested in your comments about Raincheck. By chance, I went there last night with a couple of friends. While I agree with you whole heartedly about the food, absolutely gorgeous! I found Shane to be quite rude. Granted, we are not early thirties funky customers, but that doesn't give him the right to be s patronising as he was. I, myself spent over 20 yrs in the hospitality industry before changing career and did not appreciate his off-hand attitiude. Not a smile crossed his face and there was very little eye contact. This however was not the only time this had happened as I had previously gone there with my husband (a chef) and my children for a drink, and was treated the same way. Don't get me wrong, I will be recommending the RCL to my friends, but for the food alone. It was fantastic, very, very tasty.

Rita said...

Hi Kerry - thank you so much for your comment. I know exactly where you're coming from in regard to Shane and his demeanour. When he was at Gondwana, on countless occasions I stood up for him in many situations where people were disgusted with Shane's attitude. With Raincheck, I have found it to be the same situation. People either love him or hate him. One group of friends (regulars at RC) have even boycotted RC now as a result, much as they love the food there.
I can only say I take him as I find him. He has always been friendly and courteous to me - both at Gondwana and Raincheck. I also dealt with him years ago when I was working at Tas Hotel and Club, and he treated me with friendliness and helpfulness, and appreciated those little extras of service that one tends to give customers you know deserve it. We shared a big laugh one day when he came to Hotel & Club to collect a carton of wine glasses for Gondwana, finished his dealings, returned to his car, placed the carton on the roof of his car whilst unlocking it, then drove off with the full carton of glasses on the car roof! He returned 3 minutes after leaving, looking much embarrassed and had to buy another carton!
So - I'm sorry he makes your meals there unpleasant, but am glad you return for the good food.

Anonymous said...

Had a fantastic dinner there recently, it is a great place to be sure. Not sure who Shane is although service was excellent...