Sunday, 22 March 2015

Eating: Drunken Admiral

Our visit to the Drunken Admiral was a last minute family dinner where an impromptu pre-wedding council was held over a seafood feast.

The interior of the Drunken Admiral is decked out in excessive quantities of pirate paraphernalia. Since we were all asian tourists we loved it, especially all the attention to detail. Many great family group selfies were had. The layout of the restaurant is a little cramped with all the decorations, but the atmosphere was great.

I’ve been obsessed with mussels since I’ve eaten them at Preserve Kitchen in Glen Iris (VIC). If cooked correctly they’re tender, chewy with so much flavour, but the sauce is always the best part. The Drunken Admiral’s Steamed Southern Mussels are a generous portion size with a delicious broth of white wine, tomato, garlic and shallots. Here’s a tip, anytime you see white wine and garlic in a mussel dish, bets are it’s probably pretty decent. The best part of this dish was soaking up all that broth with that bread.

The ocean trout salad was a hit with the parents. They loved the generous smoked trout that was mixed well throughout the rocket.

The sea salt and pink peppercorn squid was a hit with myself and The Better Half. It’s cooked perfectly, soft with a slight crunch from the crumb.

Yachtie’s seafood mixed grill, came out exceeding my expectations. I was expecting the fish skewers to be overdone, but it seemed like Yachtie (whoever they are) had pulled through and all the seafood was perfectly cooked with nothing overdone. Those tender scallops, firm prawns and that slightly flaking fish, all well charred on the grill.

For dessert we shared “The Whisperings of Tuscany” and “The Captain’s Tart”. These are respectively the lemon syrup cake served with limoncello mascarpone and vanilla custard, and the almond milk pannacotta served with blackberries and turkish fairy floss. Both were delish, but my favourite was the pannacotta. I’ll always have a sweet spot (hohoho, pardon the pun) for that silky refreshing dessert.

In conclusion:
If you’re visiting here, you must keep in mind that it’s catered for the tourist and therefore you must adopt a similar silly attitude of coming here to have fun. I cannot fault the food, as we ordered quite a quantity of dishes, but they all came within a reasonable time frame and cooked well.

The personal favourites were the steamed mussels and salt and pepper squid, but all other dishes were just as tasty. Service was a little slow, but taking into account the peak time we arrived and the full occupancy, what they lacked in promptness they made up for in friendliness.

Drunken Admiral
17 Hunter St
Hobart, Tasmania
03 6234 1903

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Sunday, 15 March 2015

Eating: Providore, Hobart

We started the day out with the excellent intentions of exploring the areas around Hobart, but the reality was brunch, shopping, just-for-fun scratchies and an amazing late lunch at Providore.

By the time we had decided we were ready for lunch most of the lunch places had closed. We were lucky to find Providore open and headed in for something quick. The decor is completed with beautiful elements giving it a rustic Australian kitchen farmhouse feel. The cafe also doubles as a pantry with it’s shelves stocked full with beautiful produce. As you enter you are greeted with an open salad bar that’s self serve and sold by weight (100g increments). The sandwiches are made to order and wonderfully fresh.

At its core this place is a sandwich shop, but then there is so much more. They do sandwiches in a way that is greater than the invention of sliced bread.

The roast chicken sandwich is a little parcel of perfection with an accompaniment of salad, encompassed by one of the best brioche buns I’ve ever had. The brioche is soft yet chewy with sustenance, and not too oily or buttery. The grilled capsicum is slightly sweet, and together with the parsley are great fresh elements. The pickled onions hit the sour vinegar spot, but its the paprika mayo that ties everything together with its creamy texture.

The bolar steak sandwich is in itself a snapshot of the flavours from a Thai or Vietnamese beef salad. Everything in it does nothing by halves. The slight bite of heat from the charred chilli, the crisp wombok salad, the fresh coriander, and that zesty punchy chilli lime mayo sauce. I don’t know what else they mixed into that mayo but there is just so much flavour. Great strong flavours throughout this whole sandwich. Even writing this now, I’m counting the days till when I can head back for another bite. This sandwich was that good.

The prices for the sandwich are a little steep for an everyday lunch but you can be assured you’re paying for the very best in ingredients. Portion sizes aren’t huge, but I left feeling content.

With our sandwiches we enjoyed two local ciders. Pagan apple cider was crisp, fizzy and delicious. Willie smiths organic pear cider from Huon valley is a cloudy beverage, and has a more fermented taste.

In conclusion:
Make sure you stop here for a lunch, or a breakfast, or a snack sandwich. I promise that you will not regret it. To enjoy the food here you do need to be someone who likes bread, and salad, and flavour. If you’re any sort of decent person who enjoys eating, then you have to try a sandwich from here. We felt so good after eating this that we didn’t even want to sully the aftertaste by getting frozen yoghurt. My favourite was the bolar steak sandwich since I’m asian and I like asian flavours, but the roast chicken was still pretty amazing.

100 Elizabeth St
Hobart, Tasmania
0456 780 224

Providore on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Eating: Pilgrim Coffee, Hobart

Tragedy struck on day two of the Tasmania break, the cellular network left me without wifi. So to console me, we decided to indulge in some fancy breakfast at Pilgrim Coffee.

We weren't disappointed. The decor is edgy and modern, with the feeling of being underground in a mining tunnel. The polished gold tables adds to the allure of searching in a gold mine. The exposed wood beams of the ceiling, the muted singular curl of the corrogated iron wall lights give an interesting vibe.

Pilgrim surprises diners with complimentary pilgrim popcorn flavoured with salt, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and chipotle. The flavours meld well together.  It isn’t super crunchy but it's all about the flavours. View this popcorn like pilgrim introducing themselves and handing you their business card. Here is what we do: flavour.

Pirates bay octopus with chilli, octopus, potatoes. Great zingy citrus flavour with strong notes of pepper. Potatoes are crunchy and creamy in the inside. The octopus is very soft, which suggests that it has been in brine then cooked. The preserved lemon gives so much zing. The colours really remind me of a Mexican dish. Unfortunately it doesn’t have the same lightness as a mexican salad based dish, but the combination of the pickled pepper, preserved lemon and octopus is a great mouthful. With each chew, the flavour keeps giving. I’ve recently noticed a trend over the past half a year that restaurants are incorporating more pickled or home preserved elements. This gives their dishes more flavour than just simply adding spice or salt. This process takes much more time and preparation. A great example of a restaurant doing it so well is Provenance, in Beechworth.

The coriander is a good lift to the dish, as all the other elements are more intense in flavour, the coriander is that "fresh" component. I think I would have liked a little more, maybe some basil as well. At the time my dish arrived the heat from the other elements had wilted it, but i’m sure it couldn’t have been helped.

The Better Half went with the french toast with maple butter and bacon. The bread was rich and creamy, which in itself was a nice bread, but when made into french toast it went squishy and mushy. The BH struggled also in eating the caramel due to the way it hardened once it came into contact with the cooler dish. There were a few pieces of the caramel, that the better half just couldn't chew through. The contrast between the mushy bread and the hard chewy caramel, makes for a complicated mouthful.

Service here is prompt and friendly.

In conclusion:
Pilgrim coffee is a friendly relaxed way to the start the morning in the middle of Hobart’s CBD.
I heartily enjoyed my Pirates Bay Octopus but would think twice before ordering the french toast. Their more savoury dishes have more promise due to the way they love to play with flavours.

Pilgrim Coffee
48 Argyle St
Hobart, Tasmania
03 6234 1999

Pilgrim Coffee on Urbanspoon

Monday, 9 March 2015

Eating: The Westend Pumphouse, Hobart

Dinner at the Westend Pumphouse is a busy affair. The large, repurposed industrial space is now an open plan dining hall that is filled with the energy of bustling patrons, either dining or grabbing a post-work drink.

Service here on a weeknight was excellent, taking into account the busy turn out they hadn’t been expecting. We were one of those pleasant surprises. Hi, surprise! Can we have a table for four please? All delivered with a slight tone of pleading and food desperation, while maintaining my cool aura, of course.

We were quite keen on the lamb shoulder but were told that it would take about forty-five minutes to an hour for it to be done. The Lamb here is cooked fresh, because the people here are serious about their food. After being told this how could we leave Hobart without eating this? So we settled in to wait and filled our time with some choice sharing plates.

The night did not start out strong unfortunately. Our first plate consisting of duck rillettes and pickles, which was disappointing to be honest. The smoky smell and taste was there, but other than that there wasn’t much flavour to the meat. Not one of our favourite rillettes. I would have liked some more pickles to help balance the meat a little more.

The evening started to improve with the arrival of the charred octopus, dried olive, lemon and potato. The texture and flavour of the octopus was superb, with a slight chewy texture but still very tender. With each mouthful you really got all those smoky charred aromas and flavours.

The star show of the night was the lamb shoulder. When the lamb came out it justified it’s own waiting time, even with just the smell it wore like a cloak. That lamb shoulder had it’s own confidence. Listen to me wax lyrical over a lamb shoulder!

The lamb was tender to the very bone. The sinew and tendon gave no resistance when any pressure was placed on it, it allowed itself to be dominated into a buttery soft mess. A spice rub consisting of cumin had been applied to the surface of the lamb, which enhanced the meaty fatty flavour of lamb. There was a slight char and crisp to the outer layer of the lamb.

There was pure genius applied to the lemon zesty sauce that was probably a reduction of the meat juices with added pepper. The flavours of the zesty sauce, the spice rub, and the fat in the meat melded well into a harmonious mouthful that very quickly became several mouthfuls. The coleslaw itself had it’s own fair share of secrets, with a friendly pairing between the pumpkin seeds and barley.

I would love to come back Hobart, especially if it includes a visit to the Westend Pumphouse. Our portion of the lamb shoulder was generous on the night, and four grown adults couldn’t finish it. Be warned that there was a definite wait for the lamb, but armed with a glass or two of wine, the time does pass. Not that I’m saying you should get drunk while waiting for the lamb. That’s completely not what I’m saying at all.

The large open design with it’s exposed ceiling beams can lead to the noise level growing loud quite quickly. But it’s a place with great character and filled with a young crowd who probably don’t mind the noise at all.

In conclusion:
If you’re looking for a great place to chill and socialise at the end of a long day. If you’re looking for a place with great character and great food, then this is a good place to start. I would come back for the charred octopus and lamb shoulder if I had ample time. I’d still come back to try out all the other share plates and snacks. Be aware of the long-ish wait for the lamb to share, but the great vibe and cool people will distract you.

The Westend Pumphouse
105 Murray St
Hobart, Tasmania
03 6234 7339

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