A Monty for
MONTY’S ON MONTPELIER 37 Montpelier Retreat, Battery Point Licensed/ BYO; Open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday 6223 2511
AFTER all the hip places and Tex- Mex food of the past few months, it was good for the soul to be comfortably seated in a cosy room, in front of a crackling fire with quality cutlery and glassware, with quiet jazz in the background and feel that, rather than eating, I was preparing to dine. And, as it turned out, dine well. Chef Terry Clark and his partner Lucy Chambers moved from Melbourne about a year ago, he from a position as executive chef at the National Gallery of Victoria and Lucy with long front- of- house experience at some of Melbourne’s leading establishments.
Six months ago they bought Monty’s and now offer a concise a la carte menu of six entrees and six mains, an eight- course tasting menu and what is by far Tasmania’s most extensive selection of European and Tasmanian cheeses, from which they very sensibly ask you to order before your meal so they can be brought to room temperature. But more on the cheeses later. I started with a superbly textured and flavoured Jerusalem artichoke soup, poured at the table over small dice of pickled trompette mushrooms.
With just a whisper of white truffle oil, it was a beautifully executed example of what can be done with a too- often under- appreciated vegetable.
Unfortunately, it’s probably already gone from the menu as the seasonal artichokes have gone from the market.
Then followed a loose- textured terrine of shredded chicken and smoked ham hock, its richness offset against sweet/ sour piccalilli, while my wife’s just- cooked scallops were a visual and flavour success in their Mediterranean- inspired combination of crisped fennel and zucchini, artfully arranged around dollops of tomato jam and black olive paste.
From the fashionable comfort- food main course offerings, including pork belly and black pudding, blue eye and prawns, poached salmon with smoked paprika and chorizo, I chose the slow- cooked Cape Grim beef cheek nicely paired with Brussels sprouts, beetroot and swedes.
Like most other slow- cooked dishes on menus seemingly everywhere around town, after 10 hours of gentle braising, the meat shredded under the fork and had lost its gelatinous texture and lip- sticking deliciousness, the characters I find most appealing in such meat cuts. But, according to Clark, most people don’t.
In any case, what it lacked in richness was made up for by an excellent Pedro Ximenez sauce, making it much more palatable than