Cornelian Bay Boathouse

Licensed $$-$$$
Queens Walk, Cornelian Bay
03) 6228 9289
Open: Lunch and dinner daily. Takeaways.

After 14 very successful years, Leah and David Lamb sold the Boathouse last November to John Demir who, in turn, had spent 16 years as chef/owner of Marti Zucco’s Pizza in North Hobart before selling it to a new, energetic young team who also went on to turn the attached Segreto into the hugely popular Burger Haus.

Just prior to the Boathouse’s sale, the building’s owners, the ex-Rockerfellers boys, Garry Dorrington and Ian Cox, had remodelled and upgraded the attached kiosk. Demir plans to add an alfresco dining area to the kiosk’s facilities, something which should prove even more popular with the many day-time walkers and families enjoying the Queens Walk waterfront and children’s play grounds.

In the restaurant proper, little has changed. There’s still the lovely feeling of airy spaciousness with beautiful day-time water views giving way at night to candle-lit tables, the lights of the bridge and, if you’re lucky, the moon on the water – making it one of the city’s most romantic dining spaces.

And, after three years with the Lambs, chef Stuart Godfrey still mans the stoves while Demir and his team provide a warm welcome and efficient and professional service out front. The menu and style of food remains much the same as before, the popular mini-Mondays are on again and the wine list continues to offer much better value than most around town.

So it’s been a seamless transition

However, written like a ho-hum shopping list of ingredients for each dish, the fairly conservative, something-for-everyone menu doesn’t do much to excite the juices. So we were pleasantly surprised when some excellent ciabatta bread and our first courses at dinner arrived. One was the seafood chowder, chockfull of fish and shellfish, with a beautifully smooth texture and consistency and with just a subtle hint of curry adding colour and a deeper background of flavour. Excellent.

The second was a very modern presentation of three nuggets of soy-cured and nori-crusted salmon with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds, the richness of the fish nicely offset by the freshness of a shaved daikon and pickled ginger salad. A scrape of Kermit-green wasabi gel across the plate proved to be simply a chef’s superfluous flourish in its scary luminosity and lack of flavour.

The fish and chips with house-made tartar was as good as it’s always been at the Boathouse while a duck breast was perfectly cooked and rested to tender rosy pinkness and was partnered with flavoursome sweet sour glazed slices of pork char sui. However, the accompanying rice and salad of enoki mushrooms could both have done with a tad more thought and attention.

Demir says he’s planning to offer a wider selection of lighter, fresher and healthier options beyond fish ‘n chips through the kiosk, while as winter comes on the restaurant menu will move to include more slow-cooked and wet dishes and possibly some game.

Overall, the quality and presentation of our food at dinner was inconsistent and I left feeling that the kitchen was perhaps resting too much on its laurels. But Godfrey has a lot of experience to draw on – including working at Melbourne’s Sofitel as sous chef under Raymond Capaldi and alongside Donovan Cook and, before Masterchef stardom struck, Gary Meagan while George Colombaris was the apprentice – and, with Demir’s plans, it will be interesting to see the Boathouse’s further evolution down the track.

Chowder $16.50; salmon $19.00; fish and chips $26.50; duck $34.00; three-course fixed menu $40.00

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