Kermandie Hotel goes upmarket
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.