Stun­ning spot for some fine wine and dine

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TASTE - Graeme Phillips

THE CO­TERIE Coal Val­ley Vine­yard, 257 Richmond Rd, Cam­bridge Li­censed Open Sun­day/ Mon­day/ Tues­day 10am- 5pm, Fri­day/ Satur­day to 9pm 6248 5367

AF­TER op­er­at­ing for many years as one of the most pop­u­lar cel­lar doors and vine­yard restaurants in the val­ley, Coal Val­ley Vine­yard’s restau­rant closed four years ago. Sub­se­quently, while the cel­lar door con­tin­ued to trade reg­u­larly, the restau­rant only opened in­ter­mit­tently for func­tions and wed­dings.

As a re­sult, by the time Amy Rus­sell and Sheralee Davies took it on last Novem­ber, and re­named it The Co­terie, the restau­rant had ef­fec­tively and sadly dropped from many people’s radar. It’s been hard work and a fairly slow road back.

As the new name im­plies, rather than a full- on restau­rant, their aim was to cre­ate a con­vivial and re­laxed wine bar- style at­mos­phere of­fer­ing good Tas­ma­nian wines and sim­ple, shared food for vis­i­tors and lo­cals to en­joy in what is one of the most pic­turesque vine­yard set­tings in the state.

Seated com­fort­ably on a lounge with a glass of the 2013 Coal Val­ley Ries­ling watch­ing the sun slowly set on the vines and the Pittwa­ter last Satur­day, we en­joyed snack­ing on a de­li­cious and well- made chicken, date and wal­nut ter­rine from the small plates sec­tion of the menu fol­lowed by three of the large plate op­tions – discs of well- flavoured boudin blanc, a beau­ti­fully pre­sented dish of shred­ded wagyu with root veg­eta­bles and kale, and a duo of duck with slices of the bird hous­esmoked to pink per­fec­tion ac­com­pa­nied by an equally ex­cel­lent duck liver par­fait.

As good as they were, our large plate op­tions proved dif­fi­cult to share and were, I felt, in both com­po­si­tion and pre­sen­ta­tion, more main­stream restau­rant than wine bar- styled dishes.

And there’s noth­ing wrong with that if that’s the way they want to go. How­ever, chest­nut gnoc­chi in a bit­ter, smoked duck broth didn’t work for me and the sharp­ness of soused plums, pick­led baby veg­eta­bles, mus­tard seed vinai­grette and as­sorted rel­ishes ac­com­pa­ny­ing the var­i­ous dishes didn’t do much to help our en­joy­ment of the other­wise ex­cel­lent wines ei­ther.

So we left with me feel­ing that they ap­pear to be caught in the some­what schizoid po­si­tion of be­ing not quite a restau­rant or the sort of ca­sual, wine- friendly venue they orig­i­nally wanted it to be. Per­haps it’s time for a re­think.

Mean­while, it is what it is, the food is gen­er­ally very good, the wine se­lec­tion ex­cel­lent, their Sun­day live mu­sic af­ter­noons are hugely pop­u­lar and, for Bastille Day, their con­sul­tant chef, Wayne Smith, exFrog­more Creek, is pre­sent­ing a five- course, de­con­structed cas­soulet menu with wines for $ 95. Book­ings rec­om­mended.

Small plates $ 15; large plates $ 20 to $ 32; three cheeses $ 22; desserts $ 9.

DIG IN: The Co­terie’s chicken, date and wal­nut ter­rine.

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