Matthew Denholm sam­ples lo­cal fare in the din­ing out­post of Burnie

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence -

IF you wanted to com­bine a love of the beach and fine din­ing, this is as close as it gets with­out sand be­tween your toes. Bayviews Restau­rant and Lounge Bar is not so much close to the beach in the north­west Tas­ma­nian city of Burnie as on it. When it be­came ap­par­ent the Burnie Surf Club was to get a re­fur­bished home, three lo­cal busi­ness­men sniffed an op­por­tu­nity and pitched a grander vi­sion to au­thor­i­ties. The surf club got its new home while the city gained an award­win­ning piece of wa­ter­front ar­chi­tec­ture.

The glass, steel, con­crete and tim­ber struc­ture houses the club, con­fer­ence fa­cil­i­ties, lounge bar and two sorely needed restau­rants.

De­spite the re­gion gen­er­at­ing some fine pro­duce, in­clud­ing cheese and beef, Burnie has had a rep­u­ta­tion as a culi­nary back­wa­ter in terms of top-notch din­ing. Ap­proach­ing Bayviews at dusk, as the surf of Bass Strait pounds on the shore, I’m hop­ing that has changed.

I re­alise it would have been bet­ter to eat here dur­ing the day to en­joy the su­perb out­look over the beach and sea. As it is, I have my back to the dimly vis­i­ble white-foamed surf and my view is of the bright lights of a KFC.

The in­te­rior of Bayviews, which opened in March, is a lit­tle stark, but the dark, wave-like tim­ber ceil­ing and stylish bar pro­vide warmth. It’s a week­night but the place is packed: a good sign for any restau­rant. There are a few main­land tourists, mar­vel­ling as they re­call dis­cov­er­ies of vir­gin rain­for­est and low prop­erty prices, as well as a smat­ter­ing of lo­cals.

In a small city sur­rounded by farms and in­dus­try, with no ex­pe­ri­ence of exclusive eateries, it is nat­u­ral that a pi­o­neer­ing es­tab­lish­ment should aim for a broad ap­peal.

We mull th­ese is­sues and ex­am­ine the menu over a cou­ple of beers, mine a Boag’s, brewed a cou­ple of hours’ drive east in more cos­mopoli­tan Launce­s­ton. The menu seems to in­clude less lo­cal pro­duce than I had hoped, al­though I later learn most is from the re­gion even if it is not iden­ti­fied as such.

The dozen oys­ters ($18) with which I open my ac­count are not lo­cal. There are ex­cel­lent oys­ters to be had in nearby Smith­ton, but the va­garies of sup­ply mean that tonight’s come in­stead from St He­lens on the state’s east coast. They are cer­tainly fresh, hav­ing ar­rived only min­utes ear­lier, and are as firm and suc­cu­lent as the best can be.

I am a lit­tle puz­zled, how­ever, to find them in a stack, which I feel I have to dis­as­sem­ble be­fore they can be con­sumed. Why do some chefs think din­ers like food to ar­rive in pyra­mid form? Plates are usu­ally large and round, so why do they layer food in the mid­dle like a pile of rocks?

We have se­lected a bot­tle of 2006 Pipers Brook Pinot Gris ($36) to fol­low our beer, also from the Launce­s­ton re­gion (in the Ta­mar Val­ley), a good match for the oys­ters and for the quail my din­ing com­pan­ion, Matt, has or­dered as an en­tree.

He en­joys his Thai-in­spired dish, the bird served on a bed of wok-tossed greens ($17). It fea­tures, you guessed it, an­other stack, and Matt grumbles that the ac­com­pa­ny­ing wafers are ‘‘ a bit point­less’’. The quail, which I later dis­cover is sourced lo­cally, is ex­cel­lent, how­ever, and the serv­ing re­fresh­ingly gen­er­ous. We both en­joy our food more macro than mi­cro and hope this is a sign of things to come.

The menus cre­ated by hus­band and wife chefs Craig and Han­nah Jones — lunch, din­ner and specials — are var­ied. Dishes range from light and curious (lo­cal peri­win­kles baked with spicy tomato rel­ish and pecorino, $14 or $24) to tra­di­tional and in­tim­i­dat­ing (800g lo­cal aged rump steak with chips, $40).

Piz­zas are also a fea­ture, in­clud­ing in­ven­tive op­tions such as gin and beet­root-cured trout with tomato, ca­pers, span­ish onion and creme fraiche ($18). And a tempt­ing seafood plat­ter for two fea­tures king prawns, peri­win­kles, nat­u­ral and baked oys­ters, mus­sels, baby snap­per, smoked ocean trout and scal­lops with salad and french fries ($95).

For our main cour­ses, Matt and I have cho­sen a less am­bi­tious op­tion: the pan-seared blue-eyed trevalla fil­let cooked in tar­ragon cream on a creamy gar­lic mash ($26.50).

The flavours are fine but the fish is closer to over­cooked and drown­ing in tar­ragon sauce. The ac­com­pa­ny­ing veg­eta­bles are limp and, while mer­ci­fully not stacked, ap­pear sim­ply to have been dumped on the plate. We agree the mains are closer to pub fare than fine din­ing.

The ser­vice is friendly but lacks fi­nesse. When fresh cut­lery ar­rives be­tween cour­ses, for ex­am­ple, it is placed care­lessly askew. Such de­tails are small but im­por­tant parts of the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Undeterred, we push on to dessert. I or­der a choco­late jaffa tart with Coin­treau yo­ghurt ($9.50), while Matt takes the Bayviews three­cheese tast­ing plate with crack­ers ($14.50). I’m un­sure if the yo­ghurt’s aci­dophilus has sur­vived its brush with the Coin­treau, but re­as­sure my­self that at the very least the bac­te­ria died happy. I’m happy, too, with this su­per-rich tart, which is well matched by the boozy yo­ghurt.

Matt can’t go wrong with his se­lec­tion of lo­cal cheeses: washed-rind brie, a blue and a ched­dar. Cof­fees ($3.50) com­plete an en­joy­able if less than per­fect meal.

Bayviews does not — yet, at least — reach the heights of the best lo­cal restau­rants, such as Launce­s­ton’s Luck’s, Still­wa­ter and Daniel Alps at Strath­lyn, or Le­b­rina and Mar­que IV in Ho­bart. How­ever, it con­sti­tutes a laud­able step in the right di­rec­tion for Burnie and I hope it will in­spire other culi­nary en­trepreneurs. All Ta­bles vis­its are unan­nounced and meals paid for. Bayviews Restau­rant and Lounge Bar Hilder Pa­rade beach­front, first floor, North Ter­race, Burnie; (03) 6431 7999; www.bayviews­restau­rant.com.au. Open: Seven days, 8.30am un­til late. Cost: Three-course meal for two, with wine, about $160. There is also a chil­dren’s menu: fish and chips ($9); mini fil­let steak with salad and fries ($10); napoli­tana pasta with cheese ($8). Drink: A rea­son­able se­lec­tion of Tas­ma­nian and main­land (par­tic­u­larly South Aus­tralian) wines, with one or two im­ports, many avail­able by the glass. Rea­son to re­turn: To come by day and fully ap­pre­ci­ate the great lo­ca­tion.


Pic­tures: Matthew New­ton

Sea change: In a great lo­ca­tion, Bayviews has bro­ken fresh ground and may well lead a new wave of din­ing for Burnie

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