Westend Pumphouse Eatery and Bar – Revisited

Licensed $-$$$   Hat icon   Glass icon
105 Murray Street, City, Hobart
03) 6234 7339
Open: Tuesday to Saturday 8.30am to late, Sunday and Monday 8.30am to 4.00pm.

It was an early evening Friday and the Pumphouse was literally pumping. Crowds of city after-workers with beers and wines filled the lounge settings, shared tables, sat outside and stood around the central bar and the open fire in a firebox suspended from the ceiling. With a few friends we ordered drinks and they came with an overflowing bowl of olives.

The crowd thinned out and slowly filled up again. A DJ started his thing. The first diners arrived. Manager Aaron McCallum showed us to our table and left us with the menu and wine list. Water came. Behind us, containers in the unique milk-container wall had been removed so the empty spaces spelled “primavera”, Spring. At a long table next to us a large group were having drinks and excitedly waiting for their pre-ordered whole roast suckling pig.

Our wines arrived and were tasted and poured – a crisp, deliciously honeyed 1999 Tahbilk ‘1927 Vines’ Marsanne and an OK 2010 Sela Tempranillo from Spain.

Then our entrees, as ordered – plenty of good sourdough bread with coarse, creamily fatty and perfectly seasoned rillettes of confit duck; two slices of an expertly made smoked ham hock terrine, the slices too thin for us to fully enjoy and appreciate their mosaic textures; and beautifully flavoured Ortiz anchovies fashionably served in their tin with the lid curled back.

And that would have done me. I could happily have relaxed for the next hour or so nibbling at the entrees, finishing the wines, enjoying the music, the noise and the buzz and watching chef Michael Godfrey put the finishing touches to his beautiful-looking, glazed pig before it was paraded to the table to the delighted oohs and aahs of the group and for the men – of course – to carve and hack at it.

But there were mains to go and they were on the whole disappointing. The confit chicken Maryland with black cabbage, preserved lemon and caper sauce was fine. But a hanger steak was dry and chewy while, instead of crisp, the brisket was wet – not just moist, but wet – and slippery.

There were plenty of other main course options we could have chosen and we might have been better pleased with the simpler dishes like charred broccoli with almonds and brown butter vinaigrette, the roasted Jerusalem artichokes and beetroot with green sauce or even the hamburger or the salmon with smoked apple and celeriac remoulade. Or ordered another entrée such as the appealing sounding preserved tuna, Spring peas and goat’s curd salad. But we didn’t.

And that then got me looking more closely at the wine list.

McCallum for a time managed the excellent Grape Bar in Salamanca and knows his wines. So I was surprised to see that, on a list he says is limited to 100 wines, he’d devoted almost half to just three varieties, riesling, chardonnay and pinot noir.

While there are stylistic and country-of-origin variations within them, I felt a few fewer of each would have left room for a more exciting selection of the great variety of wines that are now available from distributors in Hobart. For example, the last time I ate at the Pumphouse I’d enjoyed a rustic ’07 Pierro Mancini Cannonau from Sardinia which, at $41, was the most reasonably priced, food-friendliest drop I’d had in a long time. It was no longer on the list nor was there any near equivalent.

So, I feel a good list could be even better and, with a bit of work in the kitchen, some of the mains could be greatly improved.

But, I’ll be back for the buzz, those entrees and, with some friends, to pre-order one of those pigs.

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