Ker­mandie Ho­tel goes up­mar­ket

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - Graeme Phillips

Sassy style

IT SEEMS strange that such a he- man tim­ber town as Geeve­ston doesn’t have a pub. Even more sur­pris­ing is the fact that, while you can’t get a beer in town, you can get some­thing so de­cid­edly ef­fete as the best sushi and sashimi in Tas­ma­nia, as any­one who has en­joyed Masaaki Koyama’s food at Ho­bart’s Sun­day Farm­ers Mar­ket will read­ily at­test.

Then Geeve­ston has an­other sur­prise. A lit­tle out of town at 50 Arve Rd, there’s the Geeve­ston Road­house housed in what used to be an old Cal­tex ser­vice sta­tion.

To­day, they still pump petrol while in­side there is a scat­ter­ing of bare ta­bles and chairs, a group or two of lo­cals chat­ting over cof­fee, Sa­mara Ford’s delightful bub­bly smiles and some of the best cur­ried scal­lop, cray­fish and as­sorted savoury and sweet pies in the state.

When times got tough, as they still are for many in this neck of the woods, Sa­mara and her hus­band, James, de­cided to sup­ple­ment their busi­ness by of­fer­ing cafe- style drinks and eats and mak­ing pies.

As with Masaaki’s food, it helped to have Huon Aqua­cul­ture’s big sea farm on their doorstep happily sup­ply­ing fresh salmon for their salmon and brie pies.

And first- rate lo­cal beef, sea­sonal lo­cal cray­fish and lo­cal ap­ples and fruits for their dozen and more other va­ri­eties.

But, as good, flavour­some and gen­er­ously filled as the pies are, what makes a road­house visit even more worth­while is Sa­mara’s won­der­ful, wel­com­ing hos­pi­tal­ity, some­thing Tas­ma­nia could do with a lot more of th­ese days. But, back to the no- pub bit.

I’m told it’s a prod­uct of his­tory, that in Geeve­ston’s early days moral and re­li­gious tem­per­ance move­ments won out and banned sales of al­co­hol in the town.

So the Ker­mandie Ho­tel was built 4km away in Port Huon in­stead.

Ac­cord­ing to an old foot­baller, the ho­tel used to have a well- de­served rep­u­ta­tion as a bit of a blood- and- guts pub where re­sults of games were reg­u­larly set­tled, not al­ways out the back.

Not so to­day with the new owner, Syd­ney yachts­man Sean Lang­man, ren­o­vat­ing the old place into first- class bou­tique ac­com­mo­da­tion with Sass, a fine- din­ing restau­rant he’s hop­ing will be­come what he calls “a des­ti­na­tion restau­rant”.

The old din­ing room has been trans­formed into a de­light­fully mod­ern, spa­cious area with views through to the ma­rina, the ser­vice on our visit a few weeks ago was smooth and ef­fi­cient and the food very good.

David Tubb brings his years of ex­pe­ri­ence at The Point, to very pro­fes­sion­ally man­age the floor while chef Mat Har­ri­son han­dles the kitchen, draw­ing on the Huon’s abun­dance for most of his pro­duce.

He does his own cur­ing and smok­ing, makes his own small­go­ods and pre­serves and weaves them into a con­tem­po­rary menu with in­flu­ences from the Mediter­ranean, the Mid­dle East and Asia.

Plus, of course, there’s good old Aussie fish and chips but in this case with an ex­cel­lent light- as- air tem­pura bat­ter.

A beet­root tart tartin with bal­samic caramel and goat’s curd was also very en­joy­able as was the chicken supreme, porcini, pancetta, olives and tomato “cas­so­let with pap­padelle”.

Happily, the menu spell­ing wasn’t re­flected in the food and we left feel­ing that Geeve­ston folk now have a sec­ond very good rea­son to travel those 4km.

And there will soon be a fur­ther good rea­son to visit, I be­lieve, when Lang­man brings an old Syd­ney ferry down to ply the Huon.

How­ever, in a case of my bad tim­ing, Har­ri­son is launch­ing a new menu at lunch to­day along with a tast­ing of Kate Hill’s ex­cel­lent wines.

DE­LI­CIOUS RANGE: In- house smoked salmon with salted ca­pers and cor­ni­chons; house- made wal­laby pas­trami; corned Bruny Is­land wal­laby on a white bean and caulifl ower puree; and seared Tas­ma­nian scal­lops with chilli lime caramel and nori chips. Pic­ture: K

WARM WEL­COME: Ker­mandie Ho­tel mar­ket­ing and pro­mo­tions man­ager Zara English. Pic­ture: KIM EISZELE

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