St Albi Bar and Eatery

Licensed $-$$$
49 Albert Road, Moonah
03) 6228 3257
Open: Daily noon to late.

It’s great to see the frenzy of new restaurants we’ve seen in the CBD over the past 18 months or so finally reaching the suburbs. And while calling St. Albi an “eatery” captures the relaxed informality of the place, it seriously understates the job Lucy Baker, her father Gary of Rockwall Bar and Grill and Lucy’s partner, Josh Paull have done in transforming an old, industrial warehouse into a rather glamorous, 150-seat restaurant.

With a long bar down one side, a large open kitchen, funky ceiling lights made by Paull from material collected from a skip, a private room seating 30 on the mezzanine floor, a couple of other more intimate spaces, classy tables and chairs and unadorned industrial walls and raw metal ceiling struts, the feel is one of tasteful, modern minimalism, very different to anything else in town.

And the menu is anything but minimalist.

Of the 11 entrees, Lucy said the most popular was the cider-braised pork belly roulade with apple and fennel slaw while a friend at another table raved about the Asian-inspired dish of five spice quail with coriander, lime and chilli.

We were less happy with our first entrée of a too-sweet and creamy spanner crab pate where you had to search for any crab flavour. On the other hand, a ham hock terrine was generous and well made with traditional cornichons and a rather commercial tasting tomato relish and other pickles. The pick of our entrees was the tender, crisp and beautifully spicy Szechuan squid which was as good as the best spiced squid rings or strips in town.

A seafood paella was an unexpected option among the selection of nine mains and, although it had of necessity been pre-prepared and microwaved, the seafood and saffron flavours were excellent and there was an abundance of shellfish, topped by two grilled king prawns.

Next came what Lucy called their most popular choice of the eight steak options from the grill, the Cox eye fillet, unusually rubbed with coffee and 10 other spices in a mix developed by Head Chef, George Cox, during his time at Rockwall in Salamanca. Perfectly cooked rare, it was a wonderfully succulent treat and a nicely charred 300g Scotch with a lovely rocket, pear and parmesan side dish was almost as good.

There are also an extensive and interesting selection of side dishes, two vegetarian main course options and two dishes for two to share – a Persian slow-roasted lamb shoulder and a large seafood platter titled St Albi Catch. There’s also a ten-option banquet menu and your choice of five desserts.

The wine, top-shelf spirits and afters, cider and beers selections are large with a wide range of prices, the wines with a reasonable Tasmanian representation and a number of wines by the glass.

So, in the best sense possible, St Albi has something for everyone and, just as The Red Velvet Lounge and Lotus Eaters were catalysts in the transformation of Cygnet, and Zepp’s had similar effect in Campbell Town, so it’s to be hoped that the sophisticated style and quality of St Albi might kick start a more interesting and vibrant, modern food scene in the northern suburbs.

Entrees $16/$18; mains $26 to $38; grills $32 to $50; sides $9; Desserts $14; banquet $55 a head

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