Frogmore Creek Restaurant

Licensed $-$$$   Hat iconHat iconHat icon   Glass iconGlass iconGlass icon
20 Denholms Road, Cambridge
03) 6248 5844
Open: Open daily 10.00am to 5.00pm.

Twelve months ago when I last reviewed Frogmore Creek, the then new chef, Ruben Koopman, was still cooking the previous chef’s menu and management was discussing a possible new kitchen and a new deck extending from the tasting area for more casual dining as Koopman was tossing up ideas to introduce his first menu.

By last October, it had all been done and done exceptionally well.

The kitchen has been expanded, modernized and fully opened up to the restaurant. The new, all-weather deck gives a feeling of relaxing among the vines. Koopman, under his new title of Hospitality Director, has introduced a tapas-style menu for the deck and a four, five and six course menu with optional wine matches for the restaurant. And, not finished yet, management is now finalizing plans for a Wine Lounge in the city to be up and running, they hope, by year’s end.

While the changes and functional upgrades have been beautifully done, together they’ve also provided a new air of contemporary sophistication to the whole Frogmore operation and it seemed quite natural during lunch to have a helicopter land on the lawn and deliver four diners to the restaurant. You get the feeling that this is precisely where today’s Tasmanian tourism is at. And, on the whole, the food lives up to it.

The Deck menu takes you around the world in 17 dishes with flavours and influences running from Morocco to Thailand, Peru, China, Japan, Lebanon, Italy, MexTex and elsewhere. The single, tapas-style servings are generously proportioned and there’s sufficient authenticity in their spicing, garnishing and composition to give you a very enjoyable taste of the real thing.

“We added the deck to provide a more flexible dining option”, said Frogmore’s National Marketing and Events Manager, Shelley Temata. “And it’s been a hit since day one with people ordering two or three tapas for lunch, others dropping in for cheese and a glass of wine or simply for coffee and cake on their way to the airport”.

In the restaurant proper, what they refer to as their “signature restaurant’, things get decidedly more complex and upmarket. In a dish titled Tuna X 3, a mound of tuna tartare, a cube of seared tuna and another cube of marinated-cooked tuna are accompanied by a poached quail egg, a crab and daikon cannelloni, a brilliantly conceived wasabi and goat cheese macaroon along with a savoury grissini “bridge” and decorative dobs, petals, smears and squiggles.

Likewise with the dish called Land and Sea comprising a fillet of slow-cooked pork belly, pork skin cracker, a curled tiger prawn, cubes of purple Congo potato and golden pumpkin, globes of jellied beetroot and a tasty apple elastic masquerading as, I think, a jelly fish.

Despite such complex and decorative combinations making colourful, visually arresting statements, it’s all a bit too much of the tweezer and eye-drop school of cooking for my personal liking. But, given that that’s Koopman’s style, he’s doing it well. For me however, while the techniques are impressive and the main ingredients and each little individual vegetable cube, dob, dab and squiggle are perfectly cooked and individually tasty, combine them together and I felt it was a bit like biting into a Jackson Pollack painting. Twee it may be, but it’s clever and fun and the fun continues with whimsical desserts like a white chocolate and liquorice chess set and the over-the-top Black Forest Buttons dessert, a jumble of cherries, dark chocolate wafers, kirsch, peppermint ice cream, cardamom sponge and hazelnut crunch which, for sweet-tooths, would almost be a meal in itself.

There’s also greater variety and vintage depth to the Frogmore Creek wines on the list as well as a good selection of Lark Distillery spirits and liqueurs and artisan beers, together offering a much more complete Tasmanian dining experience than in years past.
And, as usual, the service is spot on.

Individual dishes on The Deck, all $15. The restaurant offers individual dishes ($25), four courses $80 and matching wines $40; five courses $95/$50; and six courses $125/$60; desserts $14.50

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