Lo­ca­tion sells at the Pier

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TASTE - Graeme Phillips

PIER ONE RESTAU­RANT AND BAR Wrest Point, 410 Sandy Bay Rd, Sandy Bay. Li­censed. Open daily 11am to late. 6221 1622

WITH chefs Hugh Whitehouse at Saf­fire and An­dre Kropp at the Henry Jones, the Federal Group has con­sid­er­ably lifted and mod­ernised its culi­nary of­fer­ings.

Even in re­cent years at the Point, chef Kent Sul­li­van has man­aged to in­tro­duce more con­tem­po­rary dishes to a menu fea­tur­ing such retro stand­bys as flambé prawns, steak di­anes and crepe suzettes cooked and served with ap­pro­pri­ate 1970s flame and flair at your ta­ble.

But it seems that such im­prove­ments have failed to trickle down­stairs to the menu and cook­ing in Pier One where, even al­low­ing for the fact it’s ser­vic­ing a very dif­fer­ent clien­tele to the Point, there’s long been a feel­ing of in­sti­tu­tion­alised cater­ing in both the ser­vice and the food.

Kate Ches­sor ... has put to­gether a much more in­ter­est­ing wine list, one with a com­mend­able Tas­ma­nian bias

Which I’ve al­ways thought was a shame. Given its at­trac­tive lounge bar, a pri­vate din­ing room, a wa­ter­front deck and fab­u­lous lo­ca­tion, Pier One could be, should be, ought to be one of the most ex­cit­ing and pop­u­lar ca­sual eater­ies in the city.

In­stead, it seems caught in a time warp, al­most as if no­body in­volved has both­ered to look up­stream to see what culi­nary changes the city has ex­pe­ri­enced over the past decade.

Which might ac­count for the fact there were only two other ta­bles of two on the Thurs­day night of our visit.

It was so quiet we could clearly hear the chefs jok­ing in the kitchen un­til our very oblig­ing wait­ress, Emma, told them to tone it down.

An en­trée of mini blini with smoked sal­mon came with stale, chewy blini car­ry­ing none of the menu’s stated horse­rad­ish flavour, the “can­died fen­nel” ac­com­pa­ni­ment was miss­ing and the whole was so dry I had to ask for a bowl of sour cream to moisten each mouth­ful.

My wife’s en­trée was a seafood chow­der that wasn’t – sim­ply pieces of as­sorted seafood in a thin, un­thick­ened seafood broth. Tasty enough, but why call it a chow­der?

Much the same could be said of the “mush­room sauce” on a veal cut­let which turned out to be a pile of sautéed mush­room slices on top of the cut­let sit­ting in a pud­dle of in­dif­fer­ent stock.

And I won’t men­tion the ac­com­pa­ny­ing pub­grub slaw.

And the tarte tatin dessert? The only tarte tatin I’ve seen in my life with­out even the slight­est smidgin of caramelised ap­ple.

But, the good news. The amount of seafood in the “chow­der” was gen­er­ous; the veal cut­let was nicely medium rare as re­quested; and my wife’s blue eye mar­ket fish was, she said, beau­ti­fully cooked and de­li­cious.

The bet­ter news is Kate Ches­sor, for­merly man­ager/ som­me­lier at Blue Skies, has put to­gether a much more in­ter­est­ing wine list, one with a com­mend­able Tas­ma­nian bias sup­ported by main­land and in­ter­na­tional op­tions and, while still not cheap, all at more ac­ces­si­ble prices than I re­mem­ber pre­vi­ously.

The even bet­ter news is the tal­ented and very pro­fes­sional An­dre Kropp from Henry Jones has been ap­pointed Wrest Point’s ex­ec­u­tive chef af­ter the de­par­ture of the pre­vi­ous oc­cu­pant.

With Pier One due to in­tro­duce a new menu later this month, it should give Kropp time to bring both the menu de­scrip­tions and the food up to scratch.

For Wrest Point’s, Ho­bart’s, Tas­ma­nia’s and all our sakes, here’s hop­ing.

Pizza $ 24-$ 30; En­trees $ 18-$ 23; Mains $ 24$ 38; Desserts $ 12.

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