The true test of a business, any business, is how it deals with a surge in custom. And this is blindingly obvious when it comes to restaurants. For the Front Beach Taphouse and Restaurant, they were sorely tested when we descended upon them one Sunday recently.
Want to know how they fared? Particularly as I’ve been pretty scathing on shoddy service recently. Front Beach came up trumps. Crikey, that word! I’d been at a friend’s wedding in Torquay, and being a family affair, and a big friend catch up, our bride, Marie, had booked the Beach for a long lunch the day after the wedding.
Pretty brave, I’d say. And we all turned out in force. Friends from near and far, family from near and far, and we straggled in, took up two long tables plus various children dotted about in the lounge. It was a bit of a schemozzle, but the staff, male and female, coped beautifully. Nothing was a problem, drinks were delivered quickly and with grace, and the food? Terrific.
Being a taphouse, the Beach has a big range of beers on tap, plus the usual wines and cocktails which seem de rigeur these days. But the range of beers was pretty standard, and nothing in comparison to the brew houses in Hobart, that host micro-brewery specials with a vengeance.
And that’s the only criticism I’d make, really. I had a pint of Stone and Wood, which was perfect for the hot sunny afternoon, and goes so well with food with its fruity pale flavours. But on to the food.
And because there were quite a few of us, it was a good representation of what the kitchen could turn out under pressure. I tried the Soft Shell Tacos, at $18, with two tacos topped with pulled pork, avocado, pickled onion, pineapple & mint salsa, and chipotle mayo.
These were a decent serve, tasty, chewy, and a nice combination of flavours and textures, though the pinapple mint salsa could have been chopped finer – it was more bits of pineapple and mint rather than a cohesive sauce.
Lynne had the Roasted Cauliflower and Green Bean Salad with capers, freekeh, coriander and cumin, and a tahini and yoghurt dressing. She enjoyed it, but did comment it was a trifle bland. More of the dressing would have made a big difference. (And Tahini in it, for that matter.) At $18, okay.
The Crispy Sesame Squid was a standout. A delicious alternative to the blasted salt and pepper greasy mass produced stuff that so many are serving now. For $22 it came with a soba noodle and edamame salad with a mirin and miso dressing and la! Kewpie Mayo. I haven’t had Kewpie for years – we used to have it often, living in Japan, and I made a mental note to revisit the mayo that is now becoming a standard in modern restaurant service.
Someone had the Roast Pumpkin Pizza with goats cheese, pine nuts and spinach. $20. Delicious, but needed seasoning, and the base? Perfect, thin and crisp, and obviously house made. Someone else had the Chicken Parmi, $24 with chips and salad. It got a big nod, and the basket of crisp beer battered fries were inhaled.
I so wanted to try the Churros with nutella dipping sauce – at $11 so tempting, but we were all too full, so … next time.
One of the waiters stood out. He was friendly, knew the kitchen and front of house, and chatted with the group about the food, and the place. Will, who does coffees, take a bow! But on the whole the staff were terrific. And let us pay separately, so made things in a scatty group so much easier.
It’s not always easy for a buzzy restaurant in a holiday resort to keep staff, and to keep good staff. So more kudos to Nick and his team, for stepping up to a messy plate!