Fern Tree Tavern is the local in the middle of Green’s heartland. The tavern is as entrenched in the community as the its political leanings. The pub hasn’t changed a lot in the last couple of decades with the exception a spring clean and some recycled furnishings. More remarkable is the improved range of craft beers and premium Tassie wines now on offer and a contemporary approach to the menu.
The Two Girls are big fans of chef Gail Sellin and her work at Raspberry Fool up until January 2018. This Girl still remembers the sad day I went to the Bathurst Street Post Office and found the café next door had shut up shop. ‘What happened?’ I demanded of my sales assistant. ‘Has it closed?’ Good grief hadn’t they eaten Gail’s home-made wagon wheels? Then, not too long ago, a short feature in the The Mercury newspaper welcomed the wonderful Gail to the Fern Tree Tavern kitchen. She was back.
Dangling on the edge of kunanyi and facing out to the Channel, Fern Tree is a beautiful place. The Tavern’s orientation on the block limits its views mostly to the carpark. What the Tavern does offer is a roaring fire, a warm drink and a piece of cake after a walk on the mountain or a seat outside and cold bevvy on a warm evening. Good meals including snacks throughout the day, and a fair decent sized lunch and dinner menu is a welcomed addition to their offerings.
The Two Girls made our play date and found ourselves seated at a large table; warmed by a fire; and when we stopped talking long enough to read the menu, excited about the mouth-watering options.
To make the best decision possible we toddled off to the cake cabinet and oohed and ahhed so much that Gail came out of the kitchen to say hello. The changing business profile of the precinct seemed like the best time to make a move that she felt she needed and close the much-loved Raspberry Fool. The cake cabinet is a little shrine to that Bathurst Street cafe and the cakes on offer on our visit included chocolate mud cake, coconut raspberry slice, hummingbird cake, blueberry bundt and more. The specials board is nearby so take the opportunity to check it out. We did our standard foodblogger negotiation and went with:
- Cauliflower cheese croquettes with parsley mayo, $14 (3 pieces)
- Pate and pickles with sourdough toast, $16
- Lamb and white bean braise with olives, spinach and whipped feta, $26 and
- Creamy mixed mushroom and goats cheese penne with caramelised onion and sage, $22.
True to form, Gail did a terrific job. We’re massive fans of the croquette and her croquettes were pretty special – crispy coating, perfectly fried and hot, without causing an internal injury. The pate was a rich chicken liver and it came with rainbow of pickles and four slices of sourdough. Both starters were large and if moderation were part of our better sense, we might have stopped there.
Both mains were good choices and perfect for a late autumn evening on the mountain. The slow-cooked lamb had big olive flavours and was complemented by the creamy feta addition. Similarly, goats cheese is a match made in heaven with several standouts –caramelised onion and mushrooms being two of them. It was a no-brainer for this fan although I oscillated briefly between the pasta and the goats cheese and caramelised onion filo tart on the special’s board. We drank the Clarence Plains chardonnay and the house red.
There’s a pudding of the day which got to see but not taste. There was just no room in the inn. It was a contemporary, deconstructed-looking, apple crumble with custard. Next time.
Kids eat free on Thursday nights and on our visit The Tavern was a permissive space. It looked like terrific fun for the kids who got to adventure and play with friends and explore their surrounds. That’s also terrific for people with kids and not always everyone else’s cup of tea.
The service ethos and systems are still be finessed and we noticed a hiccup here and there.
If you don’t hail from the area, it might not be your preferred location for a pub meal, but it is worth checking out what Gail is up to in the kitchen. Make a day of it, go for a walk then a meal, or check in to one of their events and make an evening of it. Her food is worth it.
Find them on Facebook – here.
Visit them at 680 Huon Road, Fern Tree.