Red Velvet Lounge

Licensed $-$$
24 Mary Street, Cygnet
03) 6295 0466
Open: Wednesday to Sunday 9.00am to 5.00pm, Dinner Saturday from 6.00pm. Takeaways.

After a fire, a long restoration and a brief closure, Cygnet’s Red Velvet Lounge is back in business. Back in business but heading in a different direction under new owners, chef Isabel Sykes and her partner, Joe Pickett.

“We are trying something new”, they say, “a café with a strong ethical commitment, one that meets our three ethical pillars – local, seasonal and vegetarian”. “Accordingly, the café is now completely vegetarian with menus that reflect the best seasonal produce in the area, including a carefully curated Tasmanian drinks menu”.

“Wherever possible we source specialty produce from the Huon Valley and surrounding region” Sykes says. “We also make sure that everything we do at the café has the smallest environmental footprint as possible”. “It’s really back to basics. Food as it should be. Food that is fresh and tastes fresh. Which means the menu will change regularly and with the seasons”.

Despite the foregoing, they say they made a conscious decision to not promote vegetarianism. We prefer for customers to experience and enjoy good, wholesome food, irrespective that it’s vegetarian”.

Before jumping in the restaurant deep end, Joe was a logistician involved in festivals such as MOFO while Isabel specialised in event catering. Restaurants are different and they say they are still feeling their way, testing menus, seeing what customers want and, a big job for Isabel, learning to master the kitchen’s cavernous, 1922 Dutch oven.

The results, at this early stage at least, are very limited menus listing just four choices plus, on our Saturday lunchtime visit, two daily blackboard specials with a selection of cakes and such desserts as apple and ricotta crumble available from the display cabinet.

Sykes says they will expand the choices as they go – something I’m sure the locals are looking forward to. As they are to enjoying crisp wood-fired pizzas from the Dutch oven on Friday nights when RVL becomes as much a musical entertainment and performance space as a restaurant.

At lunch, my wife had a beetroot burger comprised of a beetroot-stained roll enfolding a crisp quinoa pattie and slice of melted cheese enlivened by the sweet and sour flavours of cooked and pickled beetroot. Piled high and skewered in the modern manner, my wife said it was so tasty that she only allowed me a single bite.

On the other hand, my vegetarian lasagne was a bit of a mess, the cooking fine but the presentation formless and with so many mild and competing flavours that they seemed to have cancelled each other out. Later, Sykes showed us a stunning assortment of different and differently coloured mushrooms from the local mushroom farm which, she said, she often serves with soba noodles. In their colour and flavoursome simplicity, I thought they might also have improved the lasagne.

So, on our experience and their own admission, they still have a way to go to get the RVL back to the much loved and quality position is once held. But it’s still very early days and if their energy and enthusiasm are to be rewarded, I feel they will get there.

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