Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ghost Rock (Port Sorell NW Tasmania) 06/2016

On the outskirts of Port Sorell few people would come across this place by accident and most would pass by at 80 km/hr unaware of what they were missing. Signage is sadly lacking on the approach roads to a place that really is of interest to tourists.
Perhaps this is Ghost Rock!
Set on a hill above the vines the 

Cellar Door tasting area is at the side of a simple cafe style dining space. The area is run by Scott Wolfson, an enthusiastic young man. The place has a very clean look about it.  When I arrived every table that was occupied had on it a huge antipasti plate, The Ghost Rock Platter, a serve for two or three people.
Other dishes on the menu include foccacia and pork belly and apple pie. basically they do not cook in the kitchen.

Decor is plain and simple,

but the views are attractive.

I had to have the platter and requested a small one. It’s an advertisement for Tasmanian produce. 

Marinated mussels, three different presentations of salmon, smoked salmon 41degree salmon rillette, hot smoked salmon, pesto, black garlic marinated in balsamic vinegar, olives, a slice of beef sausage sun dried tomatoes, stuffed bell pepper, red capsicum, eggplant, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, pickled onion, smoked chicken breast, chicken liver pate on a bed of leaves and four different cheeses with toasted bread and biscuits plus a bread roll and butter. Every element of this platter was excellent, very fresh and full of flavour. The black garlic exceptional
I enjoyed this with a sparkling non alcoholic Elderflower drink, a delicate Tasmanian specialty.

I finished with a raspberry parfait, ice-cream and a double espresso. 

The only tiny negative was the ice-cream  which had become too soft and been refrozen leaving little ice crystals in it. A truly surprisingly satisfying lunch.
A small area is set aside for Tasmanian handicrafts and souvenirs. 
A beaut place to visit and taste their many prize winning wines at reasonable prices and enjoy a great taste of Tasmania.
Score: 14/20

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Touchwood Cottages (Stanley, Tasmania) 06/2016

Stanley is a touristy little town on a peninsula in the far NW of Tasmania. It's a rugged

attractive place with steep hills great views

and a massive rock called the Nut.
Image result for stanley the nut
I dropped into the small restaurant and souvenir shop attached to Touchwood Cottages

for a cup of coffee and a muffin for morning tea.

It was first class. Their scones looked just as good too.

Mecca (Burnie) 06/2016

Another day another dinner. 
This large dining room, originally a hotel, with well spaced bare tables was full of solid citizens eating substantial sized meals.

The room had some character with pressed metal ceiling 

and little nooks.

 The laminated menu had a fair range of dishes and I chose a seafood platter.

It was very large for one person and I took away almost a half of it when I could eat no more. It was what might be called rustic. A big meal, simply presented with two sauces and a wedge of lemon. Plenty of taste.
Unfamiliar with the white wines I asked for a taste of the Ghost Rock, a local vineyard, pinot gris. I got half a glass and was not surprised that the glass I eventually ordered was well above the standard glass.

Prices were reasonable.

Score: 13.75/20

Monday, June 13, 2016

Rialto (Burnie) 06/2016

Very simply decorated it had lead glass windows depicting the famous bridge on the door

and the window to the street.

There is an ancient cash register on the counter as you come through the door.

My waitress had no idea of the owners of this Italian restaurant were from Venice, in fact I doubt that she knew where the Rialto Bridge was. This was hardly of any importance, of course. She was there to convey orders and deliver food to the table. 
I started with a minestrone soup which looked and tasted like a thousand others. A request for bread was met with "We only serve garlic bread" Which I thought a little limiting. Parmesan was available but I had to ask for it and I also had to ask for water. For a main I chose a scaloppini marinara. 

The veal was totally covered in a thick layer of seafood including plenty of scallops and prawns. They were in quite a light sauce and tasted good but, when I found the veal it was in small tasteless slices.
That was about enough for one night.
Score:13.75 /20

Baltimore (Burnie NW Tasmania) 06/2016

I would not have found this place in an old train station on the edge of Burnie but for the recommendation of a young waitress at Mandarin Court when I asked about a French style European restaurant.

The train is no longer used for dining but the restaurant is decorated partly in a manner reminiscent of a railway dining car. 

The other half of the venue is like any regular restaurant 

with a bar at the far end.

I think my adviser was struck by the knowledge that they had snails on the menu. Of course I ordered them. 

The came in pairs in crumbed batter. Nicely spiced and seasoned they were excellent.
There was an attractive choice of mains 

and I settled for the Kassler. This is a lightly cured (salted) and lightly smoked cut of pork usually neck or loin, often served with sauerkraut. (Apologies for the photo's - they do not do the place or the food justice)

It was an excellent, quite substantial dish, the pork thick and moist with a nice glaze and just cooked accompanying vegetables. A good example of very sound cooking.
My waitress, the owner and wife of the chef, easily talked me into a chocolate, caramel panacotta which was also very good. 

A little more expensive and a lot better than any where else I went to in the area.
Score: 16/20

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Chatter 54 Reflections on dining alone. 06/2016

Eating alone, especially in a restaurant, is a completely different experience to dining in company. It is much more an opportunity for contemplation. The food may or may not be a central issue. Usually, I imagine, on the food side the expectation is for a satisfactory meal, not a gourmet experience. For people particularly interested in food, especially in an unfamiliar city, all sorts of considerations arise. Where do the locals recommend. Do you want to try a particular style of food, what have all those I'net reviewers had to say and what is any of that worth anyway?
It's curious to see wildly different views about the same restaurant. the servers were rude, slow, hard to attract and for the same place they were courteous, professional, helpful and so on. The same thing applies to the food the same dish may be rated overcooked, dry, lacking seasoning to excellent, the best xyz I've ever eaten and on it goes. Pleasant atmosphere, unbearably noisy, left before we ordered. One should also keep in,mind that well known old saying 'One man's meat is another man's poison.
If there are a lot of reviews then the weight of opinion will tend towards the more complimentary end of the scale with a few very discontented outliers. Indeed it is a rare restaurant which, overall, is rated below average. Average, being what it is, it is impossible for over 90% of restaurants to be above average. Even Epicure almost never scores a restaurant below 12.5 out of 20. Their ratings really run from 12.5 to about 18.5, heavily weighted towards the lower end. Thus 13.5 would be close to their average. Maybe they only go to 'good' restaurants. I doubt that. Maybe, unavoidably, they often get special attention. This I can readily believe.
I think, in almost all reviews, the reviewer is basing his/her/their opinion on a single experience which may be influenced by their particular palate as a myriad of external events as well as variations on the occasion of their visit. 
Because we review a lot of restaurants on this blog this concerns me because we are not free from bias, we have our personal likes and dislikes and we are reluctant to be over critical on the basis of a single experience.
There are also potential hazards in offering forthright opinions in an era of ever more restricted freedom of speech God help us if we actually cause offence by truthfully saying what we think.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Vue de Monde (Melbourne CBD) 05/2016

Vue has been our favourite restaurant in Melbourne since it's earliest days in Drummond St. Carlton where chef Shannon Bennett was occasionally helped out by his mother. Despite several changes of venue and a huge staff the elements that appealed so much, imagination, adventure, theatre and taste have been continued and enhanced by the venue and the professional service. 

This was our menu:

“Chiko Roll”, fermented buckwheat, charred cabbage

Moonlight flat rusty wire oysters, green grapes

David Blackmore Wagyu, celeriac, prawn

King George whiting, last season preserved tomatoes, quandongs

Marron tail, squid, and roasted chicken emulsion

Marron snag

Crushed Yukon Gold potatoes, Yarra Valley salmon roe and black shellfish sauce

Lemon myrtle with sheep sorrel and flowers

Flinders Island lamb, Asian greens, macadamia

Veal loin with cabbage and milk

Aged Milla’s farm duck breast, leek, fermented truffle

Eucalyptus flavoured ice cream presented like a cherry 
Jerusalem artichoke with pear and white chocolate

Chocolate soufflé

Assortment of cheeses, bread, jams

on request this rather tiny serve was increased to about three times as much!

A selection of petit-fours
We enjoyed a very excellent 2013 Bass Phillip Pinot Noir, Gippsland, Victoria 
Comment Justin James has taken over as head chef since Cory Campbell left about a year ago. The style is largely unchanged but the menu is perhaps a bit less kitschy than previously. It is, if anything, better than ever. There is no such thing as a go to dish the whole meal was fantastic
Score:19 /20