Peacock and Jones Restaurant and Wine Bar

Licensed $-$$$
33 Hunter Street, Hobart
1800 375 692
Open: Daily noon to 10.00pm.

Peacock and Jones is the Federal Group’s revamp of the Timeless Way café, part of the Henry Jones complex. With exposed rubble and convict brick walls, original ceiling beams, stout timber uprights and – mostly – mellow music, the rustic, cellar-like space has the ideal wine bar ambience. And it serves even better as a restaurant with an open kitchen along one wall of the elongated space, tables and chairs along the other from which to see what the chefs are up to and, alongside a wall of wine, a short passage leading to additional tables and chairs in the more open space of the Henry Jones Atrium.

Despite the great space, I’m not sure how it works as a wine bar for there is no bar as such, simply the row of small tables along one wall. But, as a restaurant it has a lovely, cosseting atmosphere that, I feel, makes you want to relax, take your time and eat well.

And eat well we did on a mid-week evening a month or so after their opening.

The chef is Jeff Workman who, after training in Sydney, spent the last three years working with the wonderfully talented Hugh Whitehouse in the kitchens at Saffire. And you can see some of Whitehouse’s influence in the style, composition and presentation of Workman’s otherwise original dishes.

We started with some excellent bread accompanied by a pat of butter topped with leek ash, an unusual ingredient the purpose of which was lost on me. But I must have missed something for charcoal also appeared in another dish on the menu.

This was followed by a deliciously smooth and creamy chicken liver parfait with toasted brioche the richness of the parfait nicely cut by finely sliced radish and pickles. Then came what the menu listed simply as “raw fish, daily garnishes’ which turned out to be a beautifully presented mix of nori-cured salmon and ripe avocado on a lovely, Japanese inspired, sauce-like amalgam of toasted nori, rice wine vinegar and mirin. A great and nicely mouth-refreshing starter after the parfait.

Next were some crisp and creamy, croquette-like salted ling “fritters” with radicchio and an unusual but very tasty anchovy emulsion. Also unusual but excellent was Workman’s take on steak tartare with organic egg yolk and a wonderfully thin and crisp potato and native pepperberry wafer which alternatively served as an edible spoon.

Less convincing was a shared Huon Valley sirloin on the bone showing that even with expert grilling, a chef can’t do much with inferior raw material. This came with radicchio, braised leek and delicious charred onions not, to my mind, helped by a melt of smoked eel butter.

Like the menu’s wide use of local ingredients, the extensive and slightly expensive wine list is a knowledgeable selection of mainly Tasmanian wines with a few mainland, French, Spanish and Italian interlopers with a good range of twenty available by the glass. We chose a 2014 Tempranillo from Spain at $59.00.

For dessert there’s a small choice ranging from macaroon to ice creams, strawberries and cream and ginger bread brulee.

Oysters $3.50; Small dishes $10-$20; Sirloin $37; Desserts $4-$15

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