TANNIN RESTAURANT CORINNA LICENSED, DINNER NIGHTLY 03 6446 1170
CORINNA is in the south- west tip of the Tarkine forest, 20km upstream from the forbidding mouth of the Pieman River, an equal distance west of the Savage River mine and at about the northern limit for Huon pine.
In the late 1800s, about 2000 miners and piners lived there. There were two pubs, a special oval for the bareknuckle settlement of disputes and the police station was a tent.
Today, those days live on in the wild stories the few locals tell over a beer, the rainforest and river have recovered from the scars and pollution of history and Corinna has become a remote wilderness retreat attracting tourists, fi shermen and gold fossickers.
It’s also home to Tasmania’s only Michelinstarred chef, Euan Wiseman.
Or, perhaps more accurately, our only Michelin- starred second chef since, for six years, he and chef Charles Lockley worked as the two- man kitchen team at Boath House, a boutique hotel near Inverness in Scotland, in that time winning the restaurant four Michelin rosettes and a one- star rating.
In 2010, Wiseman and wife Jacqueline honeymooned in Australia armed with 12- month working visas. After working stages in both, he declined job offers from Vue du Monde in Melbourne and Neil Perry’s Rockpool in Sydney, posted his CV on Gumtree, fi elded a fl ood of responses from around the country and chose Corinna.
“Neither of us are big- city people,” Wiseman said. “And we love it here.”
More important is the infl uence the Michelin star had on his approach to cooking.
“Before the Michelin thing, Charles and I had a lot of fun in the kitchen,” he said.
“We shot and cooked a lot of game, served wild salmon from the Shetland Islands, foraged mushrooms and other wild food and cooked it the way we wanted to.
“Then the star attracted a different clientele. It changed the kitchen dynamics from ‘ this is what we do’ to the pressure of ‘ is this good enough?’ It ceased being fun.”
After an initial stint at Corinna, they spent 18 months at the Cable Station in Stanley before returning to Corinna six months ago, where Wiseman is once again doing what he wants the way he wants to do it.
And what he does is food from a very small blackboard menu that is simple, almost basic, but perfectly cooked and beautifully presented.
Nothing, for example, could be simpler than a scallop and parsley pie. But the scallops were still tender and juicy, the lid of light- as- air puff pastry and the precisely judged parsley sauce creamy, but not heavy, and cut, lifted
and very subtly flavoured by a fi nishing touch of lemon. Nothing original, innovative or haute cuisine about it, just excellent cooking.
Similar in quality was the slow- braised pork belly. The crackling was nicely salted and crisp, the meat still textured and moist with not the slightest suggestion of stringiness, and it was beautifully presented with a little pickled red cabbage tucked under one side, a broccoli florette on the other and, in a nod to modernity, a smear of good apple sauce.
Featuring ingredients from such top NorthWest producers as Cape Grim Beef, Red Cow Dairy, Mathom Goat Dairy, Blackridge Farm and Southern Shark Seafoods, the menus change almost daily and are accompanied by a small, reasonably priced selection of mostly Tasmanian wines.
While the Michelin inspectors may not be overly impressed by the Corinna tavern’s rustic decor, bare tables and paper napkins, in Jacqui’s friendly and very professional service and Wiseman’s cooking, presentation and saucing, I suspect they would appreciate the simplicity of excellence the pair have brought to this idyllic corner of the Tarkine.