Hotel restaurants are always seen as suss. As something that’s an afterthought, a necessary evil, even sometimes by the hotels themselves.
But that’s changing, and with the food awareness that’s raised its head around the world, hotels are realizing that they have to step up just as much as any stand alone outlet.
Mr Good Guy opened last year and has been quietly off the radar for a lot of locals. But one recent Friday, when we decided to ditch the usual trek to Salamanca in favour of heading uptown, Mr. Good Guy beckoned. And we’re glad we turned around, wet as shags on an ocean rock (it was wild weather), and dripped across the entrance and up to the bar.
“I don’t care if you just jumped out of a box, someone should have primed you about your job first!”
The room was busy, and one thing I have to say here: the service ranged from terrific and attentive, to… well blah. A barman was busy behind making drinks, and didn’t look up. No acknowledgement. Are these guys trained? Then another drifted in across from the floor and began making coffee. Again, no nod, no hello, no, ‘Hi won’t be a minute.” Or, heaven forbid, taking an order while they’re doing something else? Or is it the man thing? One bloody task at a time?
But, eventually we are served, order some very delicious spritzes, and are told that because we haven’t booked, we’ll have to be out by 7.30pm. Well it’s only 5.30pm and we’re happy with that. We are ushered past the open kitchen where Andy and another chef are at the tools, busy.
I love the design here, and yes, the attention to detail. The table setting includes an individual waiter’s station with cutlery and sauces, carefully chosen – including a gluten free soy sauce. And the chopsticks rest on a tiny plastic parachutist. Cool.
The menu is printed on pink paper placemats (shades of “Te Ama”) and it’s mercifully small and well balanced. Andy is good at what he does and the menu, divided into Cold Plates, Hot Plates, Bao buns, Bigger Things, Curries, Salads, Rice and Noodles then Sides, reflect that. The hot plates is the biggest choice, and we start there with the Tamarind Lamb Ribs with cucumber and sesame, $14.
We’re told by a very chirpy waitress that the dishes will come out when they’re ready, not in order of our ordering, and I’m fine with that, but she shows the lack of training again when we ask her a question about a dish and comes up blank. “I’m just new,” she says. I want to respond, “I don’t care if you just jumped out of a box, someone should have primed you about your job first!” But I don’t of course, social graces get the better of me.
And I hate squashing enthusiasm. It’s not her fault. But the lamb is amazing, and possibly the hit of the night in a night of pretty high hits. Absolutely melt in the mouth umami sweetness that lingers and is well balanced by the crisp crunch of the fresh cucumber. Bring it on, Gungadin!
“So what was that fuss at the beginning all about? Were they really booked out?”
And they do, next arrives the main course choice of Beef Cheek rendang curry with sweet potato and onion, $28, with two big slabs of cheek in a delicious (and authentic) rendang sauce with marinated and deep fried shallots, rice, and it’s deep, rich and tasty and again, soft as butter. Not sure where the sweet potato was but it was a damn good dish.
The scallops that have been seared with a bacon ‘jam’ underneath is inspired – a sprinkling of black bean, and edamame or soy beans, and crisp apple on top is a perfect blend of rich, sweet, salty, savoury, and then, crunch. $14. And for six big scallops with roe on, is good value, as are all the dishes on offer.
We enjoy a tequila cocktail with pineapple, which is fine, but the pineapple juice is tinned and dominates the other flavours which is a shame. We finish the savoury courses with a crisp skinned pork belly, apple, chilli oil and pickles, $14.
Another perfect blend of textures and flavours, though the apple garnish is starting to look a bit ubiquitous, the dish is tasty, crackling crackles, so we can’t complain really.
While we’re heading into surfeit, we have to order the Steamed banana cake with coconut caramel, pickled pineapple and cocoa nibs, $12. The coconut caramel is very rich, but absolutely on the money with its origins and inspiration, and we have no trouble finishing that up, the cocoa nibs adding a perfect accent to lift away from the potential stodginess of the cake.
Then we’re done, well and truly. There’s also a $45 Banquet and a “Trust me, I’m a Good Guy” one at $55 a head which is probably, going on the rest of the menu, very good value for money. We notice it’s way past our use by date, but we haven’t been pushed out, and there are other tables vacant. So what was that fuss at the beginning all about? Were they really booked out? Or was that just a silly marketing ploy to make us think they’re busy as bees and next time we should book? Either way, it’s pretty stupid because any bullshit will always be found out. Someone needs to talk to that barman or floor manager or whoever he is.
As we wander out, Mr Good Guy’s logo, a Tin Tin take off if ever there was one, smiles beneficently down at us, and we make a mental note to remember the Good Guy waiting here with delicious Asian fusion food. I just hope they remember to cue the staff first.
Mr Good Guy/ 173 Macquarie Street Hobart TAS 7000 / Ph: 03 6289 8516/ Open 7 days / $$ / www.mrgoodguy.com.au
If you’re curious about the executive chef, Andy Third, behind the operation, here’s his story: