ATMOSPHERE BY FROGMORE CREEK MAC01 Complex, 18 Hunter St, Hobart Open Fridays and Saturdays from 6pm, or by appointment. 6274 5844
Atmosphere, a venture by the Frogmore Creek team, is a new addition to the Hobart restaurant scene. It shares digs on Hunter St with its sister establishment, The Lounge, a more casual space for all-day dining, cocktails and wine.
Atmosphere does not offer an a la carte menu but, instead, three degustation experiences: Stealth ($300 per person), which on my visit included 16 courses with matched wines; Gold ($160), a clipped version without wine; and Bronze ($125), a “teaser“of some featured dishes. On Sundays only, “The deck sessions” — a weekly-changing progression of dishes — is $85 per person.
Degustation — a progression of dishes curated for the diner by the kitchen team — is dining as performance art, where one submits to the expression of a team focused on challenging, cajoling and, above all, entertaining the diner with its skills, hospitality and, at times, whimsy.
The chef, Ruben Koopman, is responsible for cementing Frogmore Creek’s reputation as a leading rural eatery. The new restaurant affords him a venue to fully exercise his considerable expertise to a broader audience.
Our party of three launches into the Stealth menu with several snacks and Frogmore Creek Sparkling Cuvee.
We then have the carpaccio, which is served on an incredible liquid-filled glass plate, and consists of scallop sashimi with miso crumble, 42 Degrees sparkling parfait, pickled cucumber, yuzu gel, brick pastry and a sprinkling of furikake. The interplay of pickled vege, yielding scallop flesh and salty miso crumble is intensely flavoursome and manages to hit that sweet spot where salty, sweet and sour collude to make a detonation of flavour.
We’re then served The Lollypop Stand, Urchin, with Frogmore Creek chardonnay, and Oysters & Pearls, which is matched with Frogmore Creek riesling.
Next is The Pirates Bay, consisting of braised octopus, cauliflower mousse, Mojo Picon, chorizo and lemongrass dressing. An edible gold “dubloon” is the highlight of this dish, which is visually arresting, precisely assembled and delicious. Tender pieces of octopus are layered with crisped chorizo served over a mosaic of salsa dots that has us wondering how the kitchen get its form so precise. My dish of the night.
The next dishes are pure theatre: Frog More or Less, a mushroom tea, which when poured into a cup dissolves a Kombu jellied frog; Slippery Bob, paired with Single Block Gamay; Tacos on a Log; and Legs and Breasts, served with Frogmore Creek pinot noir. Our final main course is Pork on the Fork, served with Single Block cabernet sauvignon, before we experience the Explosion, an essence of beetroot in a wobbly, gelled sphere.
Desserts commence with peaches and cream and the “edible frame” dessert of a lemon panna cotta, rosemary parfait with Amarena cherry gel and gingerbread crumb.
Next is the whimsical Magic Mushroom paired with Frogmore Creek iced riesling/ruby pinot. The red and white toadstool arrives on a board made from pistachio and Amaretto semi freddo with whey elastic, passionfruit, creme fraiche and a bed of Earl Grey and cocoa “soil”. It’s impressive and delicious.
For the final dessert course, we are escorted to the kitchen to enjoy the Mojito X3, prepared in front of us by the chefs.
I leave Atmosphere astonished at how much work goes into staging each night’s service.
If you are seeking a food, beverage and service experience without peer in Tasmania, Atmosphere should be on your bucket list.
Atmosphere brings the extravagant talent of Frogmore Creek chef Ruben Koopman to a wider audience.