Geronimo? Rebel? His name means ‘one who yawns’, well did this namesake restaurant make me yawn? Hell no, but not exactly jump for joy either. So much right, but for me, not quite on point.
The two young owners of Geronimo, on Charles Street, Launceston, Viktoria and Jeremy, met in Shanghai. They’d worked in the big end of town, including the InterContinental group, and wanted to make their mark in Jeremy’s home town.
Did they succeed? Yes, for a time. Opening in August 2015, they’re now heading to that no-man’s land of the terrible twos. Which happens in those wayward children of ours, every restaurant these days. It’s why I recommend to every client, ‘build in a budget for a revamp in two years. You’ll need it.’
And a dear girlfriend of mine, who lives in our Northern ‘capital’, had a fairly ‘average’ service experience recently which embarrassed her in front of some very high end international visitors. What happened?
Oh yes! Here we go again! The waiter didn’t bloody know the menu or the products therein. So now she takes her international visitors elsewhere. Shame. Geronimo is still purring along, but the Wednesday evening I called in for a quick dinner before a show, I was the only customer at 5.30pm.
And, the service was very pleasant, fast, and professional. But I guess that’s easy for one diner! Perhaps Jeremy and Viktoria have taken their eye off the ball? Has the slog of ownership scuttled their dreams and longevity? Who knows? But I hope they get their mojo back and get back on the horse. It’s a thoroughbred, and deserves to be ridden by a class act, as Geronimo was.
To start with, the space is clean, industrial chic, but for me, not personal enough. It could be anywhere. And black? Yes, smart, but there’s no relief. You know what I love in a restaurant that I can go back to again and again? Comfort, interest, clever touches (including art – why is there no one here using laser video?)
And there’s nowhere to hide. Forget about a quiet dinner for two or four – this is a bar built to pump and pump hard. But in a fairly quiet place like Launceston, is the market ready for that? I’m not sure. However, the kitchen knows what it’s doing, almost.
Menu? Small, (hallelujah), and reads well. Mmm. Tasty. And a newish innovation – mixing up the drinks with the food. Something I applaud wholeheartedly. Makes sense. So there’s a mix of interesting sounding snacks: try Pigs’ ears with lemon mayo $9.50; Jamon and Manchego brioche toastie $5; Pickled octopus, apple, fennel orange and olive, $15 among others.
Then, there’s a few cocktail suggestions that sound awesome, and reasonable, ranging from $12 to $18. There’s smaller share plates and larger share plates, that range from $14 to $34.50; Pizza, and vegetable share plates. So plenty for anyone really, without being overkill. Then, a good choice of wines by the glass, featuring some local, and French and Spanish, from $9.50 up.
After a long drive, I really wanted a beer, and that was a bit disappointing. No interesting local micro-breweries, just the usual big business beer. So I had a pint of Fat Yak. Okay. And for food? Without asking, I was delivered a hot, crusty piece of bread wonder, a herb flecked Epis (Or ear – the word is usually used for mais, or corn, and as the bread resembles a corn stalk, hence the name), with a fresh herb butter. Parfait!
I had to try the “Pepper crusted seared tuna, avocado pannacotta, lime crème fraîche and radish”, $22. Avocado pannacotta? This I had to try, but it was just dots of avocado mousse really, and a bit bland. But the actual whole dish was delicious, and served in super quick time. The tuna? Fresh as, but, and this is a big but, it was stone cold. Obviously prepared well before time, and when I read “seared tuna” I expect to hear or feel the heat!
Beautifully presented on black again crockery, it did hit the spot. So I had room for dessert, and ordered “The Kitchen sink, $15”. This was a mix of macarons, meringues, honeycomb all sitting on a substantial bed of the best lemon curd I’ve had in a long while. The sweetness and texture of the curd were perfect, but the ‘kitchen sink’ of sugary treats piled on top was total overkill. My palate screamed for something tart to relieve the tsunami of sugar. I couldn’t finish.
And as the name implied, the dish was served in a stainless steel mise-en-place well, that kitchens usually have inserted into their prep benches above their fridges. Or, ‘sinks’. Anyway, that said, it didn’t really work for me. And a bit try hard. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Ultimately? A very pleasant dining experience, and one I’d go back to. It just needs to tweak a few things and would be motoring again. And make sure every person who deals with the public knows their stuff.
The competition’s big, and diners are spoilt for choice. A great addition to the Launie scene for sure, just guys? Never, ever, take your eye off the ball, or it’ll bounce elsewhere. Just why is it called Geronimo? Does anyone know?