What about me? It isn’t fair – I’ve had enough, now I want my share. And I put my arm right up in the air and wave it around. And the waiters have all been to waiters’ school! Again!
This time we’re at St. Albi’s which has been getting quite a reputation and set back a bit from Albert Road in Moonah, it draws the crowds pretty much every night.
A friend of mine had recommended the steak, “best steak in Hobart”. Well we had to give that a try, didn’t we? But as we strolled in, unannounced or booked, we had no trouble getting a table. It was a Thursday, so still a few spaces left, but it’s a big space, and so to be even two-thirds full on a Thursday is doing well.
So, we’re sat, given menus, and… we waited. After about 15 minutes, when we’d discussed the entire menu, chosen our fare, and looked around longingly for a waiter, I spotted one sailing across the floor on the other side of the room. We all swiveled like baby birds, daring her to catch our eyes.
Nup. Nada. We’re invisible. We’re four ladies, and this has happened to me more often than not. If we are accompanied by men, the service is vastly different. Sometimes obsequious – which is why I’ve never gone back to Franklin. We were a group of 3 ladies, who watched, aghast as the next table with 3 couples, had 2 waiters (female) hovering over them while we sat in front of house Siberia.
But back at St. Albi’s I finally stick my hand up and wave. Poor Dani almost had a heart attack, thinking I was going to click! Click? Never, I assured her. And the waving hand finally did the trick. We ordered some drinks and our food. We were visible again, and sighed a collective sigh of relief.
And things picked up remarkably from there. We ordered Garlic Bread, Share Antipasta ($30) with a generous serve of a house-made pistachio/pork terrine, salmon pâté topped with big pearls of salmon roe. A hearty starter with some fresh bread and chutney it was nigh on perfect for what it was. Then we dived into a delicious pork belly dish with a take on gravy, apple sauce and potato that just worked. Not too tricked up, some cress sprouts as a green garnish, and light sprinkle of cinnamon. Clever but not too, if you know what I mean.
For the Pescetarian with us, the vegie pasta hit the spot. Absolutely gun tomatoes with sweet peppers, parsley, olives and good quality olive oil.
We had to try the steak, and it was the 250 gram eye fillet with duck fat roasted potatoes and mushrooms. All meat off the grill could be had with a rub or sauce, and/or condiment, and at $40 for this cut, a complimentary side is welcome. The choice, again is really too large. 9 sides? 4 or 5 would be ample.
But I guess this is the era of personalized everything, and restaurants must move with the times. We are spoilt for choice, all the time. And sometimes I yearn for simpler days, when the chef chose the perfect accompaniments for each dish, and that’s how it was served. I’m not talking the ubiquitous steamed veg that went with everything, regardless. I hated that, and it spoke of a lazy kitchen. No, I mean each main course, is served complete, and carefully orchestrated. What’s not to like?
Needless to say, my friend is right, and it’ll take a big player to knock this one off its perch. The steak is superb. As for the garlic bread, hands down it’s the best GB we’ve had in a long long time.
We must leave before dessert, which is a shame, but we will be back. I thank the kitchen, and it turns out it’s the apprentice who made the terrine and he’s damn proud of it. Rightly so.
The only hiccup of the evening was being forgotten about at the beginning. But that’s pretty much a no-no in my book, and it took some real effort on the waiters’ side to erase the feeling of invisibility.
As for the food? It’s terrific. Reasonable serves, not too tricked up, and the menu matches the décor well. Another plus, and so easy to get wrong. But does the menu need to be so extensive? Not in my book. Scale it back, and focus on great food with matching service and you’ve got a stayer. Not an easy thing to accomplish these days.
Have you had similar experiences, our readers? Or was yours a totally different take? If so, please share. And if you haven’t joined our list to make sure you get the tasty morsels delivered to you without fail, do so! There’s so much more coming up and we’re excited.