Hobart is spoilt for choice. Never have there been so many superb eating options and certainly never as many fine dining establishments.
Oprah moment: ‘You get a fantastic restaurant! And you get a fantastic restaurant! Everyone gets a fantastic restaurant!’
Truth be told, it’s probably as much to do with the State’s tourism boom as it is the disposable incomes of locals.
Boozy Friday Lunch Friend and This Girl visited the newest, fantastic restaurant where the menu is conceptualised in five stages: small plates; delicate and lights; or more; and, desserts. Nestled between small plates and the entrees is the caviar course.
It reads like a menu in a foreign language and it would be easy to skip over if not for the handbrake price tag. If you’re comfortable parting with a cool $145 for one of the world’s allegedly finest, sustainably produced, caviar, then 18 grams of Mottra Asetra Heritage might be right up your alley. That’s entry level. And it’s probably a signpost. When Frogmore describes its city extension, ‘The Lounge’, an extension of your living room, they’re talking about somebody else’s house.
The descriptor goes on to say the space is elegant and casual. Upholstered lounge and dining chairs of complementary colours and textures predominate. The stunning outlook from the other side of Constitution Dock invites you to sink into all that padding and soak in the view.
The few conventional tables are in close proximity to the kitchen’s charcoal counter with chef Rueben Koopman himself, overseeing proceedings. To the right of the doorway to their exclusive restaurant Atmosphere, is the bar. You don’t impress with mess so have only the best. It’s clean, sharp and unadulterated. The Lounge is high voltage chic.
Koopman is a creative. His signature contribution is beautiful food architecture – design, materials and finishes. Like his work at Frogmore Creek, Coal Valley, each plate is an art work and the attention to detail is in the minutia. Freeze-dried raspberries, fresh berries and morsels of honeycomb are laid in a wreath around the panna cotta. Mini ice cream-like cones appear balanced in a bed of panko crumbs; it’s beef tartare in a parmesan tuile.
The plates are always beautiful and they’re often fun too. It is a wonderful thing to sit in awe of a meal that is so delightful to look at. It increases exponentially the enjoyment of the food. There are two experiences to savour – the vision of what is to come and the meal itself.
What we ate:
Chicken liver parfait with crostini, cornichons and fig gel, $16. The parfait was creamy, luxurious and light and was so good it wasn’t enhanced by its accompaniments. The fig gel, which was more on the savoury than sweet side, and the cornichons, were supporting cast members to the big name star.
Pulled pork croquettes with apple puree, spiced mop bait, shaved pork prosciutto and piccalilli crème, $14. The pork croquettes were an adventure of discovery with so many component parts beautifully executed with well-balanced flavours and textures: melt in the mouth slow cooked pork, the suggestion of Indian spice, the sweet puree. Beautiful.
Parmesan cones with beef tartare, celeriac, potato croutons and truffle mayonnaise, $16. How can you go wrong with meat, potato and cheese right? And there’s something special in a dish that has been prepared with such care, the petite cones, the consistently diced tartare and potato and the velvety puree. The croquettes and cones were delightful dishes, definitely small plates, but so richly diverse that it felt like you were eating their weight in gold.
Squid and spice, crispy fried salt and spiced squid with crunchy sprouts, spring onion, ginger and chilli salad, pumpkin puree and wasabi mayonnaise, $25. The squid was the dish that best exemplified Koopman’s playfulness. The wasabi mayonnaise was the colour of peas contrasted against the bright orange of the pumpkin. The salad and the squid were the traditional match on this plate but the other combinations were discordant to This Girl’s palette. The wasabi didn’t deliver and the puree seemed an odd choice of roommate to an Asian-style squid, which lacked the advertised crispiness.
Bergamot panna cotta with lavender honeycomb and blackberries, $17. This choice came with the recommendation of our table attendant. I’m not drawn to the panna cotta as a dessert. It usually suffers from the overzealous use of gelatine. Boozy chose this gently Earl Grey flavoured sweet which was bowl-set, making for a deliciously smooth, creamy texture highlighted by the plate’s embellishments.
Chocolate and Kahlua mousse with Areo chocolate, crispy shards brittles and chocolate sorbet, $17. Sometimes the chocolate option on a dessert menu is a blunt instrument but at The Lounge it was gorgeous. Its success lay in the circumspect use of sweeteners. None of the components were cloyingly chocolatey.
Caviar notwithstanding, The Lounge has an affordable menu, great service, view and aesthetics, and the food is an adventure you should sign up for.
For the upmarket version, try Atmosphere, where you can enjoy experiences not courses in a degustation-style dining. The Lounge has also just recently started a Sunday lunch on the deck for $85 per person.
Find Frogmore Creek City at the front of the MACq01 complex, Hunter Street, Hobart.
Call them on 03 6274 5876 or email email@example.com
Find out more on about The Lounge at the Frogmore Creek website – here.
They’re also on Facebook – @frogmorecreekcity