Smolt Kitchen

Licensed $-$$
107–109 Hill Street, West Hobart
03) 6231 0828
Open: Open daily 8.00am to 8.30 pm.

There seems to be no stopping the Smolt team of Scott McMurray, Kif Weber and Head Chef,/partner, Scott Heffernan. No sooner had they added Frank to the ongoing success of Smolt than they needed a preparation space for the rapidly growing high-end catering side of their business. Thus the appropriately named Smolt Kitchen in what was the original Hill Street Grocer.

And if we’ve got a kitchen, why not attach an eatery? And since West Hobartians, for too long, have only had Paesano’s Pizza and The Lansdowne Café as their locals, why not make ours bright, colourful, welcoming and family friendly in a suburban way, simply catering to anyone who cares to drop in.

And that’s what we’ve got – a bright, breezy, informal space with colourful tables, kid’s tables, chairs and toys, see-through portholes into two kitchens – an a la carte kitchen and behind that an enormous catering prep kitchen – and decor they describe as ‘Memphis bellissimo’, the place having the atmosphere of a ‘European Continental café’. My reaction was that it was neither, that the delightful space and decor spoke for themselves without the need for any such hype.

In much the same way, I wondered why one of the night’s specials of smoked duck was called ‘duck carpaccio’ and what ‘cacciatore crumbs’ where when the huntsman was at home. But such pedantry and a few niggles about the noise from the catering kitchen – busily preparing for three large weddings the following weekend – disappeared with the arrival of our food.

The a la carte chef on the night of our visit was Esther Rupenovic who had returned to Hobart after time cooking in London including in one of the Ottolenghi family’s restaurants. Yotam Ottolenghi is the author of the internationally celebrated cookery book Jerusalem and there are Ottolenghi touches in Rupenovic’s and Heffernan’s menu.

For example, the pomegranate molasses and date syrup saucing of the afore-mentioned duck carpaccio was delicious as were the lamb and currant meatballs with yoghurt and harissa. The parsley, lemon and pomegranate flavours of the day’s fish and a wonderful Persian love cake dessert with delicious caramelised rhubarb were other examples of Middle Eastern influences.

In the truly multicultural menu however, Japan got a nod with an enjoyable dish of rare beef flavoured with miso soy; the southern USA with fried chicken and charred chilli sauce while Italy made an appearance in a beautifully presented dish of gnocchi with garden peas, copious mint and those cacciatore crumbs with Tassie entering the picture with a grass-fed porterhouse.

The service was excellent and, while there’s a critical shortage of restaurant staff at all levels in Tasmania at present, the boys from Smolt are to be congratulated on the way they have retained staff and trained them up to fill senior management, kitchen and front of house roles as their businesses expanded.

At Smolt Kitchen, there’s a well-selected list of Tasmanian, French and Spanish wines all available by the glass and bottle and an impressive range of ales, lagers and cider. There’s a smallish but appealing breakfast menu served until 11.30am as well as a kid’s menu which looks much more interesting and healthy than chicken McNuggets.

Lunch and dinner mains $16 to $19 with the gnocchi $25 and steak $36. Sides $7/$9, salads $12/18

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