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Saturday 18 May 2013

World-class food in a tiny Tasmanian village

It is rare for two five-course degustation meals to make it to the table without a single flaw, a misjudgement in timing or a dish that misses the mark.

Not so at The Stackings, the fine-dining sector of Peppermint Bay, the superbly situated eatery some 40 minutes south of Hobart on the fringes of the tiny village of Woodbridge.

Not only is the setting spot on - with spectacular views of the d'Entrecasteaux Channel and the Mirambeena ferry making its way from Kettering to Bruny Island - the kitchen brigade has been immaculately drilled by chef David Moyle and front of house, once a major weakness, has been lifted by recent newcomer Chris Chapple, whose service strikes just the right balance between knowledgeability and hospitality.

The menu, focused on local, seasonal produce and apt to change daily, offers a three-course degustation lunch for $60 or a five-course selection ($90) and each of the dishes was beautifully constructed with a deft balance of flavours and textures. 

Jerusalem artichoke in a wild mushroom broth and foraged herbs got us off to a classy start, along with some house-baked bread so good we purchased another loaf to take away. That was followed by raw wild kingfish with sour cream, pickled kohlrabi and dill, paired with a glass of zesty Laurel Bank 2012 Sauvignon Blanc from the Derwent Valley.

There is a cleverly chosen wine list here - and  a good number by the glass - with the emphasis on Tasmanian boutique producers like Kate Hill, whose 2012 riesling is quite stunning. But there are also some interesting imports like the Quinta do Ameal Loureiro, a 2009 Portuguese white and a fine partner for precisely constructed seared morwong with globe artichoke and preserved lemon salad, the fish crisp on the outside, impeccably moist on the inside (see below). 

Next,  delightfully savoury roasted veal sweetbreads with carrots, nettles and lovage (the kitchen team here forage for fresh ingredients each day). This was paired with a Stefano Lubiana 2011 Primavera Chardonnay, although my preference might have been for something just a tad meatier, maybe a pinot noir. 

Presentation and timing remained impressive, however, with the main course being an ultra-rich Robbins Island grass-fed Wagyu steaklet with turnips and horse radish; an excellent match for a Palacios Remondo 'La Montessa' 2007 tempranillo garnacha, a delectably drinkable medium-bodied Spanish red import. 

Already feeling satiated, we finished with an ultra-rich combination of Bolivian chocolate, dried olive and anise (below) and a marginally less impressive apple and miso partfait with quince and buckwheat (a not totally successful leap onto the quinoa bandwagon but still a textural step above your average restaurant dessert). 

Add The Stackings to the list of Tasmanian restaurants that really should be on your "must visit" list. Food of this freshness, quality and balance is rare enough on the mainland, let alone in the middle of nowhere. 

The Stackings is at Channel Highway, Woodbridge. (03) 6267 4088 and can be reached by road.of luxury ferry from downtown Hobart. It's open for lunch Friday to Monday but make sure to ring ahead and book as opening times can sometimes vary seasonally.       

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