Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Old Cable Station at Stanley May 2013

First and foremost – a huge disclaimer – I need to disclose at the outset that this is my ex-husband Don and his partner Charlotte I’m writing about today. As with most long-since divorced couples, all the animosity which caused the divorce has evaporated. We are both different people, and have moved on well and truly from events of over 20 years ago. Having said that, you can’t live with someone for a number of years, and share two children with them without knowing how they operate as a human being. You, of all people, can see behind the façade presented to the world as a whole. So with that in mind, what I say about the way Don and Charlotte operate, as the subject of my ramblings today, should be interpreted appropriately.

Don is the consummate hospitality and tourism professional. He trained at Drysdale in the late 70’s and has been in the industry ever since, hence is totally at home with setting customers at their ease, and making them feel like nothing is too much trouble for he and his fellow staff at Cable Station. He also possesses an extensive knowledge of the history and geography of Tasmania, in particular the NW region, thus making him an ideal font of knowledge for the many visitors to the state who find themselves overnighting at the Cable Station.

Charlotte previously owned and ran the Old Cable Station in Stanley (as well as a restaurant in Broome, WA) before she met Don a few years back. Both of their separate relationships broke down and they found themselves as a couple with a shared interest in, and passion for, food and hospitality. Charlotte in particular is THE most devoted person to the wellbeing and promotion of tourism in Tasmania (and most particularly, NW Tasmania – their region) that I have ever met.

The Cable Station is a combination Bed and Breakfast, and restaurant. They provide upmarket accommodation, all with ensuites, and superb regional food. Bec and I travelled to Stanley on Wednesday for Bec's maiden visit to this little town and the Cable Station. We had a fantastic few days away, and were spoilt rotten by Don and Charlotte, while they experimented on us with potential dishes (Drunken Crayfish, featuring a whiskey cream sauce) for their upcoming menu, and treated Bec to a tourists tour around the area. We returned to Hobart on Friday night, exhausted but satiated!

Amongst her other attributes (ie putting up with my ex-husband!!), Charlotte is absolutely devoted to providing as much local and regional produce and product in her operation as is humanly possible. Luckily for her, she worked with Rick Stein in Cornwell for a few years, and it’s obvious the training in seafood cookery in particular has been beneficial, given that Stanley is a seaside town with a busy port full of fishing vessels constantly bringing in an assortment of freshly caught seafood.

In the luxury spa suite (which was our allocated suite for the two days we stayed), you will find a breakfast pack containing only local produce: individualized packaged bacon from Black Ridge Farm, local free range eggs, St Omer butter, Mathom Farm yoghurt, Rocky Gardens jams and marmalade, Red Cow Dairy bottled milk (yep – the genuine old fashioned bottle of milk, with the cream floating on the top!), Spreyton apple juice, Charlottes sourdough bread, Chado tea, Ritual coffee. In the ensuites, you’ll find M+B organic shampoo, conditioner, soap and body lotion. They’re preparing to use goat soap from Mathom Farm as well when the owner gets his processes for the soap making fine-tuned.

The cost for a stay and dine package for 2 people in the spa suite is $279 for the first night, and $155 for the second night. The ‘dine’ aspect of the package includes a 3 course dinner, plus the breakfast ingredients to be found in the suite as described above. Naturally, should guests desire, breakfast can be cooked for them in the restaurant as well, or they could use the BBQ facilities if they wanted.

Another aspect of Charlotte’s fanaticism for regional products is the Producers Lunches held in the restaurant every 3 months (at the change of seasons), which she instigated 6 years ago, with the aim of a providing a long table of interested diners to eat a beautiful lunch, and drink regional wines, along with as many of the people who produced/grew/milled etc all the food and wine eaten and drunk there that day that she can persuade to attend, speak to everyone about their products, and not self-effacingly hide their talents and skills! This lunch has become amazingly popular and is always booked out well in advance. The next one will be on 14th July (winter) featuring John T Bailey (ex Banc Restaurant in Swansea) as guest chef and is already fully subscribed, as is the following one (spring) in October!

But – if you ‘Like’ their Facebook page, or add yourself to their email list ( you will receive notification of upcoming events besides the Producers Lunches. For instance they are planning a Whiskey Dinner in July, where all courses will be based around the use of whiskey as the main ingredient.

Charlotte is, to quote Michael Caton from the movie “The Castle”, an ideas man (or woman as is the case here!). She is choc full of all manner of clever ideas and concepts for her region, which, knowing her, I’m sure she’ll get off the ground.

They bought a food van a while back which they've used to travel all around the north of the state, including Festivale in Launceston, Agfest, Bicheno Food and Wine Festival, Deloraine Craft Fair and many others, selling their unique food, such as BBQ octopus, wagyu pies and salmon burgers. They have also participated in the Taste of Tasmania for the past two years. Their stall at Festivale this year, judged by Stephanie Alexander, won Best Tasting Plate for their cured gravlax plate. The van has also just spent the summer at Boat Harbour Beach catering to the beachgoers.

Venison (from Springfield Farm, Mole Creek) carpaccio

Tasmanian canola oil

Mathom Farm yoghurt

Rocky Gardens marmalade

St Omer butter

Breakfast goodies (above and below)

M+B bathroom products (Tasmanian)

Ritual coffee, Hill Farm Dragons breath mustard, Larks whiskey

What sets Don and Charlotte’s enterprise apart from many other businesses in Tasmania, who also focus 100% of their time, energy and expertise on stocking or using as much Tasmanian product as possible (eg RVL, Peppermint Bay, The Source, Garagistes, Ut Si, Ethos etc) is the fact that not only do Don and Charlotte feature their Tasmanian food and wine produce but also follow it through in the accommodation side of the business. They have total credibility in this regard, and I must salute their devotion to all things Tasmanian.
Posted on by Rita


Anonymous said...

Loved this review. I need to go there.

Anonymous said...

Best contemporary restaurant, Pier one, you've got to be kidding?
Stillwater our states best, come on?
The Woolstore gets another gong? WTF!
These awards are a joke and have no real relevance in the scheme of things.

Anonymous said...

Best breakfast at Ugly Duckout in Swansea?? WTF!
Best bistro meal at Cooleys?
These awards are indeed a joke.

Anonymous said...

We were there last year and loved everything about Old Cable Station. We will be back.