Saturday, 28 July 2012


A cold Hobart night (what's new?), rugged up and hungry.

AJ and I had been waiting weeks for good friend to return from the US so we could visit a favourite Hobart restaurant: Monty's on Montpelier. 

When we arrived we were seated at the bar - the wood fire and a glass of Shiraz was all that was needed to forget about what was outside. The restaurant has a genuine homeliness with open fires, welcoming (and knowledgable) staff, a collection of artworks and decor that makes you feel like you may be eating at a friend's place. 

When our friends arrived we found our seats and waited to receive our menus. Our selections were the following; 

Entrees: Mt. Gnomon Saddleback Pork Belly x 2, Truffles of Tasmania, Wild Venison with cherries and pommes gauphrette.

I ordered the 'Truffles of Tasmania' - I enjoy my truffle oil at home so I thought I'd give it a shot to see expertly prepared truffle fare. 

The first method was a reconstructed truffle (there was a french term offered but I failed to remember it) with truffle labne. It was served on a little garnish of arborio rice. The texture was moist, rich and full of flavour. The second method was house made fettucine served with truffle butter - amazing. Pasta was perfect, butter was rich and the truffle was subtle. But, the combination of flavours bound to the fat and elevated rather simple elements (pasta, butter) to a dish that could have been a main in it's own right. Finally (not pictured) was a egg truffle custard - served in a little egg with crispy wavers to enjoy it with. Overall an excellent way to enjoy local black Tasmanian truffles.

I tried some of the Pork Belly which was beautiful; moist and had  a unique pork crackling that was light, translucent and crunchy. It was served with a rich pork jus that was rich in flavour.

While I didn't taste the Venison I was told it was beautiful. It also had a garnish of pommes gauphrette which is a latticed potato crisp. Very good way of adding texture to the dish and made for some visual contrast with juicy red cherries and baby beetroots on the plate. 

Mains: Bruny Island Lamb Noisette, Harpuka in a thai curry, Chargrilled Rib Eye of Black Angus and a Smoked Baby Chicken.

The Lamb was somewhat disappointing. Not in the flavour, but in the serving size. Two pieces of lamb with some fresh brussels, radishes and potato pave and hazelnut cream. The flavours were there - there was just not enough of it. 

I didn't have a try of the Harpuka, but I did manage to steal a piece of silken tofu from the rich Thai curry. I can only imagine that the fish would have been as flavour packed as the little cube of tofu I devoured. It's always difficult to take a good photo of a curry - so here's a bad one. 

Mr T was eager to tuck into his Black Angus char-grilled Rib Eye. He asked for it Medium Rare but when it was served was probably more a Medium. In the chefs defence it was a rather thick cut. However, the char-grilling created a beautiful crunchy crust and added to the deep beef flavour. The dish was served with a steamed egg, gnocchi and a black mustard but you could not really taste the mustard I admit. It would have been much better served with a jus or even a side gravy to add a bit of moisture. 

I ordered the 'hero' of the mains. All 'ordering modesty' had to go out the window when I enjoyed a juicy, well seasoned and aromatic chicken. The skin was reduced to the minutiae, the dark and white meat was incomparably moist - it was really just a superb way to cook chicken served with baby beets, potatoes, radish and a homemade stuffing of herbs and bread crumbs. My fellow diners agreed this was the main of the day.

Dessert: Mrs. Henderson's Donuts & Chocolate Fondant

These light and crispy sugar-clouds just disappeared in your mouth. They were served with a rich lemon curd, chantilly cream and jam. 

The fondant was warm and exploded like a Chocolate Mt Vesuvius when the spoon broke into its fluffy and rich cake surround. Adding some Pedro Ximanez gel, some blue cheese ice cream and rich chocolate sauce to each mouthful made it an absolute delight to eat. The chocolate popping candy was a bit of fun too.

The first time we'd been to this restaurant was as a gift - but the real gift was being told about this inconspicious gem that is hidden behind the usual restaurant spots around Salamanca. 

We've come back twice since then and will come back time and time again. 
Monty's On Montpelier on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Fourth Wave Wines @ Smolt

On a chilly Tuesday night AJ and I headed down to one of our favourite Hobart restaurants 'Smolt'. We've been here many, many times and their menu is seasonal and always great quality. But tonight was slightly different from the usual a-la-carte offerings being a 3 course wine dinner hosted by Smolt and Fourth Wave wines (who are an Australian importer of French and Spanish wines).

Upon entry we were handed glasses of 'Madame Coco' which was a sparkling from France. This was served with an appetizer of white fish and a crispy quail egg served on a semolina crisp. A very nice accompaniment!

We were then seated and had some bread to share (Smolt have some very talented bakers), and then came the Seafood paella. A succelent selection of Moreton bay bug, calamari and scampi and chicken in with spices. This was paired with a Le Chat Noir Sauv Blanc from France and a Vela Albarino from Spain.

Following that, our red wines were served - a Le Chat Pinot Noir and a Maitre Renaud Pinot both from France. A beautifully braised rabbit was brought out, served with cannellini beans, celeriac, truffle, panceta, sweet shallots and peas. To accompany this, a serve of chat herbed potatoes and a salad. Not being too well versed in all-things-rabbit, I was impressed by being presented with a juicy, rich and flavoursome partner to some great Pinots.

Next, were served our final wine of the night which was from the Rhone valley. This was presented with a rich cheddar, fruit bread and biscuits. Then came the final food instalment of the evening - two crispy and cloudlike churros with a rich chocolate dipping sauce.

This was a great way to sample a range of inexpensive Spanish and French wines and they were partnered well by the talented paletes of the Smolt crew. We had been very impressed with the Smolt winner dinners on our last visit when they showcased the WA winemaker 'Moss Wood', and this time only reinforced our view.

Smolt on Urbanspoon

Monday, 23 July 2012

China Bar Signature (Burwood)

China Bar Signature

Again, during my Uni break I tackled the Asian buffet in East Burwood renowned by many as the "Asian Smorgy's". This is a terrible nickname as it does this food hall no justice. 

On a Saturday night AJ and I met up with some old friends and lined up to enter. The line snaked round into the carpark (usually a sign that the food is great). 

Inside, we were greeted by a range of seafood, desserts, curries, sushi/sashimi, dim sum, stir fries, roast duck, roast pork. 

Being a buffet-style venue there were obviously some issues with all the food being 'hot'. The trick was to get the food as they put it out, and aside from a few inconsistencies in that area the food was tasty and in unlimited supply! While this was far from fine-dining it definitely allowed you to try things that you may not be game to order when in a Chinese restaurant. 

Some of my favourites were cheese and mushroom crab, fried prawns, crab claws, peking duck and some beautiful dim sum; pork buns, siu mai, duck puffs.

The desserts were rather pedestrian (a wide selection but mass-produced and you could taste it) but then again Chinese cuisine is not renowned for dessert. It may have been an idea for the venue to offer deep fried ice cream or a 'fresh' alternative. Despite the let down in this area, there was a good offering of fresh fruit (perfect after a big meal) and interesting iced treats (in flavours like lychee, coconut, etc.) were delicious.

All in all - a great place to catch up and try a quality selection of Asian cuisine. The wine list was also quite reasonably priced and diverse having one of my favourite winemakers featured (Katnook Estate). 

China Bar Signature (Asian Buffet) on Urbanspoon



A few weeks ago I was in Melbourne during my Uni break. So I thought this would be a great time to catch up with my cousins. Now, upon the recommendation of my very food-knowledgable Cousin L we headed down to Rumi on Lygon Street on a chilly winter night.

The dining area is a in a 'L' shape with a bar/kitchen area taking up a large part of the restaurant. I think it would easily accommodate 40+ diners. Even on a Wednesday night at 8pm, Rumi was busy as ever. Aesthetically, Rumi mixes some middle-eastern inspiration with tasteful decorations and quirky waterjugs, paintings, etc. 

Upon being seated we were greeted by a friendly waiter who offered us drinks from a simple range of quality Lebanese and Australian wines, beers and Arak. My brother, Cousin R and I all opted for the Lebanese beers which were quite good. We weren't game to attempt the Arak which apparently is similar to the Greek's Ouzo and quite potent in terms of alcohol content.

Now, Rumi's menu has the traditional a-la-carte offerings, but we decided to take up one of the 4 banquet options. At $55 a head we were offered a great feast including the following:

Course 1: Pickled vegetables (cauliflower, gherkins, olives, radish), hommus, salad and crispy Sigara Boregi which were spring roll looking creations filled with haloumi and fetta. 

Course 2: Hot Yoghurt Soup with fried onions.

Course 3:
Grilled spiced King Prawn with a beautiful Pumpkin fatoush served with yoghurt, dukka and chickpeas 

Course 4: Spice crusted lamb ribs, cabbage salad with currants and almonds and a chorizo and baby brussel sprout salad with almonds. 

Course 5: Roasted chicken, beetroot puree, pilaf rice with currants and salad.

The entire feast was amazing. Full of flavour, balanced and in perfect portions. Highlights for me included the Hot Yoghurt soup which sounded quite odd when I read it on the menu, but was creamy and set a high standard for the rest of the meal. 

My only criticisms were the rather puny ribs that were fully-flavoured but lacked enough meat to enjoy.

Aside from that, the pairings in each course were ideal. The fresh salads created a great contrast and complemented each meat dish. The pilaf was fluffy and rich, the cabbage salad exhibited how beautiful a boring vegetable can be when paired with sweet currants and rich almonds. 

To end the night we were offered coffees, baclava, halva and these interestingly flavoured chewing gums. I got the cardamom one - wasn't that great. 

Overall, a great little restaurant and I was happy to visit it. Would recommend for a family outing - definitely the food to eat in a banquet environment - trying a range of beautifully prepared authentic Lebanese cuisine. 

Rumi on Urbanspoon