Restaurant Tasman, Hotel Grand Chancellor

Licensed $-$$$
Davey Street, Hobart
03) 6235 4547
Open: Seven days Breakfast 6.30 – 10.00am, dinner 6.00 – 9.00pm.

After I last dined at the Restaurant Tasman I gave them a less than favourable review. Far less favourable in fact in almost every respect – the food, the pretentious white-gloved service, their menu’s self-serving hoopla about their use of fresh, seasonal Tasmanian produce before serving up prawns in a seafood platter and their 300 per cent mark up on wines. The review also queried management on the reason for the high turnover of head chefs – four in two years.

Six years on, things have changed. The white gloves are gone, the prawns have gone as has the general pretentiousness of the service and menu. And the wines, while still a bit expensive, are much better priced with a good Tasmanian focus and a good spread of styles and prices. If memory serves me, the menu is also now more appropriately priced with seven entrees around $18 and eight mains, most in the $30s and topping out with 230g Cape Grim eye fillet at $43.

Add in pre-dinner drinks in the Atrium and the delightful harbour and fishing fleet views and I feel the restaurant now offers a much more enjoyable experience for our locals and, most importantly, our tourists and the hotel’s conference guests.

The head evening chef is Craig Donnelly who previously worked at Mona before taking up his current position 16 months ago. He’s put together a modern if fairly conservative menu of seven entrees and eight main courses appropriate, I guess, to the Grand Chancellor’s mainstream business and visitor clientele.

The outstanding dish of our dinner was the entrée of potted ocean trout in a beautifully green-coloured pea and wasabi custard with dill and crème fraiche. Served cold, and despite our not being able to detect any wasabi influence, it was wonderfully refreshing and pleasingly textured and flavoured with the pea sweetness a great counterpoint to the trout. A touch more wasabi and the dish could become a classic.

A second entrée of beef carpaccio was unusual in that it consisted of one large, and not quite so thin slice of raw beef with shaved parmesan, a lemon cheek on the side and what the menu called a “traditional Venetian dressing”, Venice being where the dish was first served. With a generous grind of black pepper, it was simplicity itself and all the better for it.

Our main of braised duck pappardelle sounded good but was disappointingly dull and lacking flavour despite the shredded duck having been spiced with star anise and pepper and the flavours of the menu’s blackberries, chestnuts and pecorino making little contribution.

The vincotto braised beef short rib came without the bone and the meat fashionably slow cooked. Thankfully less stringy and dry than most similar dishes around town, the beef fell apart at the touch of a fork, the dish saved by a superb sauce of, I presume, the vincotto braising liquid. At a time when such reduction sauces seem to have become unfashionable, this showed the deliciousness of what the modernists have lost.

The service was fine until we finished our mains at which stage the staff’s and restaurant manager’s attention was on serving a large group dining next door and we weren’t offered the dessert menu or coffees.

An oversight I’m sure in what is now a very much better restaurant than before.

Oysters 6/$25, other entrees $12 to $19, mains $25 to $43, sides $9.

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