Sum­mer sen­sa­tions

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

WORD has it the city’s club din­ing scene is slowly dy­ing. If so, you’d never have known it judg­ing by the crowded Mo­tor Yacht Club of Tas­ma­nia on Thurs­day evening last week.

The car park was full, the spa­cious bar and al­fresco deck were buzzing and Refl ec­tions was rapidly fi lling with groups, lo­cal fam­i­lies and as­sorted ro­man­tic and sea- tanned cou­ples.

And, with last week’s un­bear­able heat, where bet­ter to dine than by the wa­ter, with mag­nifi cent views over the ma­rina and river through to the bridge as the sun set over the moun­tain and the lights started to come on in the city.

Not only that, but head­ing up the kitchen was none other than Phil Kel­ley, who many will re­mem­ber from the great days of his and brother Michael’s epony­mous restau­rants at Ste­warts Bay down the Penin­sula and, later, at Bat­tery Point.

He’s now mar­ried, sails a 50- foot steel ketch, still surfs as of­ten as pos­si­ble and cooks as well as he ever has.

Phil says when he started at the club three years ago, he was mind­ful it also served as the lo­cal RSL and, ac­cord­ingly, tai­lored his menus to an older, more con­ser­va­tive mem­ber­ship.

Open to the pub­lic, Refl ec­tions’ trad­ing week is burger night on Tues­days, seven dif­fer­ent $ 17 counter- meal op­tions on Wed­nes­days and full a la carte menus at lunch and din­ner on Thurs­days and Fri­days, with the kitchen closed on week­ends and Mon­days.

Late last year, Kel­ley said, he upped the ante, light­en­ing the a la carte menu and in­tro­duc­ing new, more con­tem­po­rary dishes into the mix of old club favourites.

Gen­eral man­ager John Gard said the in­crease in pa­tron­age since had been “quite dra­matic”. So much so that, on the day of our visit, he had texted club mem­bers ad­vis­ing them the restau­rant had needed to limit the bar menu and re­mind­ing them to book early if they wanted a restau­rant ta­ble, be­cause of heavy de­mand.

Ever- pop­u­lar dishes such as bat­tered fl at­head, chicken parmi, beef and reef and the deep- fried se­lec­tion of fi sh gou­jons, cala­mari, prawns and scal­lops with tartare are still there, along­side more mod­ern items such as se­same seared eye fi llet, crispy skin salmon with wasabi mash in an Asian- style aniseed broth, and a chilli prawn and green pa­paya salad.

But the thing about the menu and the food that, for me, lifted both well above what you might ex­pect in a club, and even in many of our restau­rants, were the dif­fer­ent sal­ads and dress­ings ap­pro­pri­ately com­posed and fl avoured to ac­com­pany and in­di­vid­u­alise the dishes.

In­stead of the ubiq­ui­tous slaws and lazy ice­bergs with ev­ery­thing, the beef fi llet came with the Mediter­ranean fl avours of cherry tomato, rocket, wal­nut, as­para­gus, baby ca­per and a Di­jon vinai­grette; pick­led oc­to­pus with a goat cheese and beetroot salad; a lovely com­bi­na­tion of wilted spinach, mush­rooms and pine nuts com­ple­mented the baked quail; and the beau­ti­fully spiced mari­nade and dress­ing of chilli, gin­ger, gar­lic and black pep­per com­bined with toasted shellfi sh fl avours to lift the prawn and green pa­paya dish.

And, just as the baked smoked quail and the de­li­ciously re­fresh­ing prawn and pa­paya salad were very en­joy­able, so too were our crisp bat­tered fl at­head fi llets and per­fectly cooked porter­house with shoe­string chips.

While the wine se­lec­tion might best be de­scribed as ad­e­quate, prices are rea­son­able and most are avail­able by the glass.

A big plus was the staff who de­liv­ered ad­mirably pro­fes­sional ser­vice while, in a re­fresh­ing change, ap­pear­ing to en­joy be­ing there and do­ing what they were do­ing well.

En­trees $ 5-$ 17; mains $ 21-$ 28; steaks $ 20-$ 28; sides $ 4-$ 5.50; desserts $ 9.50; Spring Vale Mel­rose Pinot Noir $ 25/$ 6.

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