Frogmore Creek Restaurant

Licensed $-$$$   Hat iconHat iconHat icon   Glass iconGlass icon
699 Richmond Road, Cambridge
03) 62484484
Open: Open daily from 11.30am.

What’s that thing they say about business – that to stand still is to go backwards?

Well, in recent years you certainly couldn’t accuse Frogmore Creek of standing still. First came their purchase and expansion to 45ha of the Roslyn vineyard at Campania. This was followed by the purchase of Meadowbank Estate’s restaurant and 10ha of vines at Cambridge, the sale of their original large vineyard and property at Penna to the mainland owners of Jansz Tasmania and, last December, planting an additional 7ha of new vines and new varieties at Roslyn. Now they have plans for major changes to the restaurant.

They’ve already reconfigured the merchandising/cellar door area at the entrance to the restaurant with the merchandising display pushed off to the right and replaced on the left by a long tasting counter running through to the restaurant service area.

While not privy to the details, I believe this is the first move towards what will shortly become a fairly salubrious wine/food/degustation/experiential facility involving a new kitchen, a new style of menu and the construction of a new space extending out towards and overlooking the vines.

As I understand, there are also plans to rejig the present dining areas which might or might not involve the relocation of the existing kitchen.

No doubt their thinking behind the changes is to enable the restaurant to cater to a wider and more across-the-board demographic than it currently does. However, mindful of the difficulties Peppermint Bay and others have experienced in combining and servicing mixed informal and formal dining facilities, one can only hope, whatever changes eventuate, that the restaurant retains the position it’s enjoyed since opening – as one of the very best dining establishments in the state.

While Frogmore’s owners were no doubt mulling over such things at a nearby table at lunch last Sunday, we were there to check out their latest change, the appointment a month ago of Ruben Koopman as the new head chef.

Koopman comes with a CV featuring internships, chef de partie and extended souschef experience at such illustrious three and two-star establishments as Albert and Michel Roux’s Le Gavroche, The Restaurant Marco Pierre White and Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in England and Restaurant Vermeer, de Zwetheul, De Bokkepruik and De Librije in his homeland, The Netherlands, plus four years as head chef and restaurant manager at the Hotel-Restaurant Herberg Molecaten in Hatten.
Impressive stuff.

And, still working from the previous chef, Wayne Smith’s menu, the lunch he served for six of us was equally impressive.

He says while tweaking Smith’s menu and dishes along the way, he’s awaiting decisions on the restaurant changes mentioned above before introducing any radical changes of his own.

But from a delicious chilled gazpacho and spicily flavoured wasabi macaroon starters through six entrees, six mains and a plattered selection of desserts, the cooking was without exception faultless, the presentation vibrant and stylishly modern. For example, the blue eye and meats were properly roasted and rested – not always the case around town – the fish fork-tender and moist, the slices of duck breast a uniform rosy pink and the venison perfectly blood-rare and juicy with an immaculate sauce. Curls of tender, nicely charred octopus came perched atop a dramatically black squid ink and aubergine mash while prawn-stuffed zucchini flowers in a golden butter sauce were a picture of summer.

While the desserts and the imported and local cheeses were just as good, there’s now greater variety and vintage depth to the Frogmore wines on the list as well as a good selection of Lark Distillery spirits and liqueurs, together offering a much more complete dining experience than in years past.

Under restaurant manager Clifford Newton the service was, as always, spot on and Kootman has obviously inherited a talented and hard-working kitchen brigade.

This, together with a glance at Kootman’s rough new menu ideas suggest that, whatever the operational changes that might take place, the restaurant’s future would appear to be in very good hands.

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