Landscape Restaurant and Grill / 23 Hunter Street, Hobart TAS 7000 / Dinner 7 days / Ph: 1800 436 797 / $$$ / www.landscaperestaurant.com.au
Landscape restaurant is all about presence – at home, and the landscape that informs the entire island of Tasmania. Clever and relaxed, is how I’d sum it up.
Been meaning to go to Landscape for a little while – heard good things. This needed discovering, for us, our merry band of diners. The only thing was, we had trouble finding it!
Federal had gutted and filleted their original downstairs area, so that the old restaurant space is now a lounge, we discover after being redirected from Peacock and Jones, and we finally wend our way around reception and are met by a cool, glacial blonde who really didn’t look happy to see us.
She finally decides that we could go in, and ushers us to our table, takes our coats, and departs, a whiff of frost following her. But from there, it was all good. Very good. Our waiter was delightful, friendly and professional. Louis Kesur, the young sommelier from a big Hobartian hospitality family was wine talk itself.
We settled in to a night of superb food, great wine, and the décor? Beautiful. It’s relaxed, dark but not dim, calm while being warm, and spaced enough we can talk and laugh with ease. The John Glover landscapes that dot the walls, among other superlative works of art that have been prize winners, are icing on the cake. This is a premium space.
Ollie Mellers heads the kitchen, focused on an Asado grill, where they pack as much flavour as possible into produce that is sourced as the best of the best. And Ollie obviously doesn’t like to complicate things too much, thank goodness. So while the dishes are sometimes new takes on old classics, the combinations are inventive without being fussy. Love it.
Being a group of devoted food lovers, we like to share, taste, comment. Enjoying a warm crusty sour dough roll, we begin with the Char-grilled octopus, $24, with thin discs of sweet potato, harissa and preserved lemon. Fresh, tangy, sweet and spicy, this dish had a magical combination of textures and flavours that brought the humble octopus to another level.
We bypassed the oysters for the beef tartare, $24, served with cured egg yolk, wasabi for bite, and puffed tapioca, possibly coloured with squid ink, for crunch. The only thing I missed in that was the runny silky egg of the normal beef tartare. That brings the meat together, and the cured yolk was just a bit on the side of set. But the dish was a huge hit with most of our table.
The rice-crusted calamari, $24, with green peppercorn, miso caramel and bonito aioli was fantastic. An inspired combination that was so much more than the sum of the parts, and the rice crust adding a crunch that was a mouthfeel delight.
For mains, we dived into a small Cape Grim (Smithton) eye fillet, 200 gr at $42 from the Asado grill. The asado parilla grill, developed in the Argentine, is a purist’s barbecue. The wood must be local, so every asado cooked meat will have that wonderful, smoky woody flavour that is unique to the area.
Here, Ollie serves the steak with chargrilled baby gem lettuce that is a smoky, leafy, green match to the salty richness of the meat. It’s good. And we loved the pepperberry and cognac cream sauce that was rich and smooth. A side of duck fat chips at $9 was a must, and the other main we shared?
The whole wood-fired flathead, topped with Café de Paris butter and lemon, $32. Unbelievably delicious – perfectly cooked fish that was juicy, but fell off the bone, and had the smoky woody after tinge of the grill.
On to desserts and one thing I remember an old chef teaching me: “Chrissy, too often chefs treat dessert as an afterthought – some people won’t order them, so why bother too much? That is fatal. It’s the last thing they’ll eat, so make their experience go out with a bang!” and he chucked me under the chin.
Four desserts here on offer, and we order three: the Chocolate Tart, $16; Crème Caramel, $14; and Bombe Alaska – for two $22. How were they? The chocolate tart was for me the star – with a mango gelato, and tiny marinated segments of mandarin, the chocolate was a smooth mouthful of heaven.
The caramel was perfectly smooth but without a hint of cream or garnish, was fairly plain. And the bombe Alaska? Was no bombe! It came out having been given a fast blast with the blow torch, certainly not the theatrical dousing in brandy and flames that the name suggests. The only real disappointment of the night.
We enjoyed a Gala Estate Pinot Gris, at $50 from the East Coast of Tasmania and the cheapest bottle on the menu, and then we spied the cheese board that was being wheeled to sit next to the table beside us and sighed. Oh if only we had more room! Three cheeses for $28 with fruit bread, local honey and fruit compote sounded marvelous, but we were done.
Our waitress found our coats, and the glacial blonde had warmed a tad even, and bestowed a smile on us as we left. Our group assessment? Terrific. Landscape is somewhere we could happily recommend to friends, family and visitors – it’s up there with the best in almost every way.
And for the quality and experience? The prices aren’t too bad. Mains range from $34 to $84 for the Wagyu Eye Fillet, but then you’d expect to pay for that. We’d go back, in a heartbeat. Would you?