Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Raincheck Lounge Feb 2013

Had an absolutely superb and faultless dinner at Raincheck Lounge in North Hobart last night.

This little gem is scruffy, noisy and mostly busy, with arguably the most uncomfortable chairs in town but, boy, do they turn out some fabulous food! It’s a place that, for me, is totally under the radar. It’s been there for years, and most times I’ve arranged to meet someone there, it’s been so full we have had to find somewhere else on the North Hobart strip to eat, so I usually totally discount it as a possible eating destination.

Luckily, my mate Deb persuaded me to eat there last night, but I did have the alternative venue of Mulan across the road if they were too busy at Raincheck!

The occasion was just like an episode of the old TV sitcom “Cheers” as I walked in to be greeted enthusiastically by Shane (ex-Gondwana, ex-Smolt, ex-many other assorted Hobart restaurants) who I hadn’t seen for quite a few years. This being small Hobart, just because I hadn’t seen him didn’t mean I wasn’t aware of his presence, and I have been told a few times that he was working two jobs, one of them being in the restaurant at the Airport Hotel at Cambridge. His waiting style is of casual efficiency. He manages Raincheck, and together with chef Andrew Lax (another of those locally trained great chefs who has worked at many restaurants round town) they make a formidable and effective team. I signed Andrew up into his cookery apprenticeship many years ago, so am obviously a biased fan!

Now to the food. They have a smallish menu, which includes what they call the Chefs Table, which is a special menu, changed weekly, to capitalize on currently available produce, and so regular customers (of whom I am assured there are many) won’t get bored coming often and seeing the same boring old menu items on for 3-6 months, as is the case at many other restaurants. It comprises 4 shared plates of food (plus house bread, balsamic and oil) for 2 people for $65.

Every Wednesday, the two powerbrokers at Raincheck sit down and discuss the following weeks Chefs Table menu, then Shane orders all the required ingredients. Shane tells me they have a few couples who eat there every Wednesday night so they can sample each weeks new Chefs Table offerings. Sounds like a plan to me!

Last night we ate this weeks Chefs Table specials comprising the following:
Crispy school prawns with chilli and garlic
Heirloom tomatoes, basil and pearl bocconcini salad
Confit duck leg with sweet potato rosti and sangria reduction
Crème brulee
Plus we ordered an extra plate of BBQ calamari ($12), just in case!

The school prawns were little ones, crispened up and deep fried sufficiently for us to be able to comfortably eat the whole prawn…, head, feelers etc It was a beautiful dish, and despite my fears that it would not be enough for two girls with hearty appetites, it was all good and there was plenty on the plate for both of us.
The calamari was stunning. The BBQ flavour predominated, and the flesh was not rubbery, but cooked to perfection.
My doctor has forbidden me to eat tomatoes, much as I love the tomato/basil combination, so it was left to Deb to eat that plateful – which she well and truly did!
What can you possibly do wrong with a confit duck leg? Nothing! It was tender and tasty and served on an onion braise which complemented it well.
The crème brulee finished up a perfect meal, with its signatory cracking lid top, and delightful crème patisserie beneath.

We left in a hurry when we realized it was 7.30, and time for My Kitchen Rules to start! Both being MKR tragics, we needed to get home to my place (the closest to Raincheck) asap to see the latest episode. We watched it with a nice cup of tea accompanied by a square of my freshly baked Peach Slice.

All in all, a wonderful night, with good friends, top class food and excellent service. Thank you Raincheck. Christina – you missed out big time!

POSTSCRIPT Tuesday 20th Feb 2013

Following that superb meal last Wednesday evening with friend Deb, I decided to return to RC for dinner with my daughter. We ambled into an empty restaurant (at 7.05 pm) , to be told that the kitchen closes at 7.00 pm on Monday and Tuesday nights! Make sure you don't fall into that trap, will you!

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