The Taroona Hotel

Licensed $-$$
178 Channel Highway, Taroona
03) 6227 8886
Open: Lunch and dinner daily.

On Sunday, huge crowds were enjoying the sunshine, foods, wines and regional treats at the Taste of the Huon. Christine Bowden’s My Slice of Pie Café at Mountain River was packed and, back in the city, the Sunday market, the Salamanca strip and North Hobart were all humming.

But come Monday (a public holiday) it was as though the city had died. Or, at least, was sleeping off the weekend’s excesses with only a few cafes along the North Hobart and Salamanca strips and on the waterfront open for breakfast and a restorative coffee. As one closed café owner told me, with public holiday staff rates at around $45 an hour, it would have cost some $7000 just to open her doors for the day. Which is an awful lot of coffee to sell!

So we decided on a stroll along the beautifully secluded Hinsby Beach and an early lunch at the Taroona Hotel which is under new management after a fairly patchy run with a series of lessees and managers in recent times.

Owners, Peter Gray and his interstate partners, remodelled the old pub a few years ago, turning the bar and dining room into a bright and airy open space with full-width glass frontage making the most of the distant water views. After lifting business at Gray’s Fluke and Bruce hotel in the city – formerly Montgomery’s – from nothing to between 500 and 700 meals a week, and a record of similar turnarounds in a number of other hotels, chef, Corey Mika was appointed to do a similar rescue job on the Taroona before becoming the leaseholder.

Mika says the recipe for his successes is simple. “Understand your community and offer them a good, value-for-money feed”.

And that’s exactly what we got at lunch.

Three pieces of crisply battered fish came with a pile of thick chips and a small side of mixed salad. An excellent Caesar salad was classically composed and dressed. There were a dozen whole, tail-on prawns tossed through linguine with a nicely balanced garlic, lemon, white wine and cream sauce. And a steak knife was stabbed through the steak sandwich to stop the overflowing ingredients escaping.

And I feel confident his steaks and such pub favourites as chicken parmigiana and curried scallops would be equally well prepared and presented.
There’s also a kids’ menu plus an extensive selection of wood-fired pizze running from the classics through to such deluxe numbers as pork belly with fennel, smoked salmon and shoulder lamb with eggplant and garlic yoghurt.

And it seems Mika’s recipe is already working for when we arrived seven tables had been reserved and the remainder soon filled up with couples, small groups and families.

The beer and cider options are OK and the pub-standard wines are reasonably well priced.

Starters $6 – $16; mains $20 – $33; pizze $18/$24/$27

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