Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rin (Japanese restaurant)

I have loved Japanese food for around 30 years since my virgin Japanese meal at David Quon’s Sakura Japanese Restaurant in Salamanca. David set the bar impossibly high for anyone following in his footsteps, as many have done since, so it was with great interest that Bec and I lunched at the much-talked-about Rin (Japanese restaurant) on Friday.

I was impressed that Rin was one of the restaurants who were invited to participate and have a stall at the Dark Mofo Feast at PW1 last week – a singular honour for such a relatively new restaurant.

Rin is in Harrington Street in the vicinity of St Marys (church and school), and is on my daily driving route, so I have passed it every day since they opened, thinking to myself “I must get in there and try their food”. It took me long enough, but at last I made it.

My benchmark Hobart Japanese restaurant is, as I mentioned, Sakura. I have enjoyed many Japanese meals in the intervening years, mostly at Orizuru (at Mures) or Kawasemi (Moonah), but no one has managed to topple Sakura as yet.

We dined simply on miso, then tempura and rice, and a BBQ steak and rice dish (average cost of mains is around $17). All faultless and enjoyable, but I have to be honest and say it didn’t absolutely knock my socks off. I will definitely return because, as I said, the food was fine, I love Japanese, and it’s on my way home. I will try their sushi and inari next time. But I’m afraid that David Quon, to me, remains the King of Japanese food in Hobart. Please come back out of retirement David, and show these young whippersnappers how it’s done!

167 Harrington Street
Ph: 0427 634 574
On Facebook so check days/times they're open.
It's a tiny place, so probably wise to book, especially for nights. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Posh Bagel!

Sophia says: Hi Readers! Sorry it has been so long since our last review. We are on summer vacation! We are also having a heatwave this weekend.  Today we went to The Posh Bagel for lunch. When we got there, we were going to sit outside but it was too hot! So we moved inside. I ordered the Hawaiian Crepe which, had ham, mozzarella cheese, and pineapples. There was also bagels, smoothies, pizza, sandwiches and coffee on the menu. Our food took about 5 minutes to prepare. My crepe was delicious! The best part was the crepe, it was sweet and nice and doughy. The restaurant was air conditioned, so it was refreshing to be in it. My crepe was so huge that I barely finished it all, so we did not get dessert. Overall, I would come back for a smoothie or a bagel.

                  444 Castro Street, Ste. 120 Mountain View 650-968-5308

Josh says: Hi Readers! Today we went The Posh Bagel. There were so many things to choose from! I ordered a roast beef sandwich on a plain bagel. It came really fast and it was so good! And I ate it and it was delicious. The restaurant was medium sized and it had a big cake on display. I would come back

Jodie says: I really liked The Posh Bagel. Today is super hot and it was nice to go inside and have a relaxing lunch. When we got there, it was a little late and we missed the lunch crowd.  We ordered at the counter and they called our number about 5 minutes later. I had the veggie crepe and it was freshly made and delicious. The people behind the counter were really friendly and courteous. It was a nice break during the day and I would love to go back.

Food: ****
Service: ****
Atmosphere: ****
Overall:                             4 Ladybugs!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Tripadvisor, Urban Spoon and Google reviews

To the Anonymous commenter who posted the below comment, which I copied and pasted from my blog to my Rita's Bite Facebook page, I recommend you have a look at the comments on your observation on the Facebook page. Often, when added to past blog posts, these great comments get lost, that's the reason I copied/pasted to the Facebook page.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Restaurants, cafes and social media":

We run a popular café. Most of our reviews are positive, some are even glowing and on occasion, like everyone else I suppose, we get some negative feedback.
I can handle this.
What I cant handle is blatant untruths written by people who use sites like Tripadvisor, Urban Spoon and Google reviews to mercilessly bag a place. I suspect that this type of smear is often from our nameless competitors. Why do I come to this conclusion? Because every time we get a negative review, our competitors seem to get a favourable one. This has happened five times where our review and one particular place have been published on the same day. There have been three times when complete lies were written about us and its very disheartening that people are able to write this stuff without being held accountable.

Posted by Anonymous to Hobart Food for thought at June 28, 2013 at 9:05 AM

Friday, June 7, 2013


Sophia says: Hi Readers! Today is the day I graduated from the 5th grade! As a special treat, we went to Scratch for lunch with my grandma and grandpa to celebrate! It is called Scratch because most everything is made from scratch. I ordered a cheese pizza off of the kids menu. They have also have a vegetarian menu and a regular menu. Our waitress also announced the specials of the day. Everything took a little longer than usual to come. I liked my pizza. For dessert we ordered a chocolate brownie sundae with pecans to share. The sundae was actually in a bowl and Josh and I ate all of it. The bathrooms were clean and the restaurant is nice.

                401 Castro Street, Mountain View 650-237-31312

Josh says: Hi Readers, this is Joshua speaking here - Today was the last day of my 2nd grade! I will now be in 3rd grade tomorrow which is the start of summer! We had lunch at Scratch with my grandma and grandpa. When we got there, the waitress brought us to a table. I ordered a cheeseburger with fries like I always do. I really like cheeseburgers. They also had bread with butter and that was really good. And after we were done, we had dessert. And it was really good. It was a chocolate brownie sundae with ice cream. And after we had dessert we left. I would probably come back. Happy Summer!

Paul says: I ordered the scratch burger and it was better than most burgers. The service seemed fine but slow. It's a little pricey for you get, everything was average, no 'wow' here.

Jodie says: Today was a special day for Sophie & Josh and we wanted to have a celebration lunch with our family. I ordered the steamed mussels which were really delicious. My mom ordered the baby green salad with goat cheese. When it came, it didn't have any goat cheese on it.  I thought the service was not that great. I have been wanting to come here for a long time and I think we were expecting it to be a little bit better than it was. The best part of the lunch was being with my family.

Food: ****1/2
Service: ***
Atmosphere: ****
Overall:                                       3 1/2 Ladybugs!

Eating out in Tassie at Roaring Grill, June 2013

Today’s sermon is not so much a review as an observation.

Recently I joined a Facebook group called Eating out in Tassie. It’s a page for those keen on dining out, and happy to share their experiences at restaurants and cafes around the state, but mostly focuses on Hobart. It currently has 563 members, and is fast becoming the ‘go to’ local internet page for both hospitality staff, and diners.

Basically anyone can have their say on the food, service and the standard of any restaurant. There are no qualifications on who can join the group, other than a shared interest in, or passion for, good food.

Last night was the inaugural get together of the group, and naturally took the form of a meal at a restaurant which received the majority vote by all potential partakers in this first meal out together as being most popular option for all to try out. The winning restaurant was the new Roaring Grill restaurant, on the site of the former Onba, corner of Elizabeth and Burnett Streets, North Hobart.

Around a dozen of us braved the freezing Friday night chill to meet up and check out the food at this new establishment, which is the brainchild of Tony, of La Porcetta fame.

When the plans for this group meal were being hatched, I publicly empathized with the poor chef, knowing he had a large table of Hobart’s most voluble (potential) critics coming to dine there. I think my very words were, “he must be pooing himself” in that knowledge! Yes – maybe everyone would love everything there, but my experience of human beings (for that, read ‘customers’) added to my knowledge of the hospitality industry meant, to me, that the poor chef would be faced with the certain knowledge that much as he would like it to go the other way, there was never going to be any way all people in a large group booking desiring perfection in their meals was ever going to be happy with everything.

Someone’s steak was sure to be under or overcooked. Someone’s perception of some aspect of the meal was not going to be met. It was a recipe for disaster, from the restaurant’s point of view!

Well – did Roaring Grill ever step up to the plate and meet the challenge head-on! And what’s more, they conquered it all!

Absolutely top marks to all staff there, especially our main waitress Sarah, and the two chefs. Nothing was left to chance. Not one aspect of an evening’s dining out (from the customer’s perspective) was overlooked, starting with pre dinner drinks, timely service, food standard and presentation and general professionalism all round.

Providing the table with chef’s complimentary flame grilled bread with butter, oil and balsamic on the side, was a welcome starter too. The second most impressive aspect was when one of the party complained that her seafood chowder wasn’t hot enough. Not only was it whisked off straight away (to be possibly popped into the microwave for a quick zap, I thought to myself) but I believe another completely new bowl of soup was made!

All our food was constantly checked on by Sarah after we’d all been served, then later by chef himself, who came upstairs personally after service to thank us for choosing Roaring Grill as our first dining out destination as a group, then confessing that he had indeed been pooping himself and was extremely relieved we had all enjoyed our food so much.

His piece-de-resistance was the crowning glory of all crowning glories – he asked if anyone was having desserts. When he’d been assured that many would have liked to have one but had no room at all to fit one in, he made the unilateral decision that he would make up one of each dessert on the menu and send them up to us to sample. What a brilliant masterstroke! If anyone had any qualms about Roaring Grill before that (which they didn’t, by the way), they sure as hell didn’t have any afterwards!

We all like a freebie, and this was a magnanimous freebie – and I think, has ensured and sealed the continued loyalty and patronage of the members of Eating out in Tassie who were present.

As we have discussed previously, social media is so all-consuming and instant. With a negative or positive comment on a page such as Eating out in Tassie, you’ll find everyone takes their cue from that, and votes with their feet. Both chefs confessed they watch that Facebook page like hawks to see daily who has eaten where, what they thought of it, and how any complaints are dealt with by restaurants. As they should. You’re an idiot in this day and age if, as a restaurant owner or manager, you disregard this sort of social media and its power. Just because you yourself disapprove of Facebook and don’t use it, doesn’t mean everyone in Hobart does. You ignore it, or react by being critical in return, to your peril.

So, at some later date I will return quietly to Roaring Grill as a ‘normal’ customer, and an unrecognized recipient of the service and food they would usually serve in an everyday situation, without the pressure and awareness of a dozen people potentially running off after their meal and publicly telling all and sundry how disgusting their experience there was!

Roaring Grill – you have well and truly conquered! My heartiest congratulations! I would have bet serious money it wouldn’t happen, but am more than happy to eat humble pie!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Wild Cafe Restaurant, Penguin May 2013

Seared prawn dumplings in lemongrass broth

Lobster and prawn vietnamese rice paper rolls

Thai calamari with soba noodle salad

Chargrilled haloumi and vegie stack

Dukka crusted fried camembert

Chocolate brulee

Banana tempura
I have had many people over the years telling me how wonderful Wild Café in Penguin is, and how I absolutely must go there and eat. Well, it’s obviously not like a quick drive over the bridge to the eastern shore! It’s a 4 hour drive to the NW of the state. Given that we were returning to Hobart from Stanley last week, we decided to break the journey and lunch at this mythical restaurant I’d heard so much about. It could have turned out to be crap. Luckily for us, we were rewarded with one of the best lunches in a long time.

The service was impeccable, timely and all-encompassing. Our waitress addressed each table in the manner appropriate to that particular table. For example, I overheard the conversation between the customers at the table behind us and the waitress discussing one of the customer’s allergies and food preferences. The waitress dealt with all requests and explanations politely and sympathetically, and ensured that when the food came out of the kitchen, it was to the customer’s satisfaction.

The café itself is a pleasant, tranquil, clean environment, with a beautiful outlook over the water (Bass Strait), with the train tracks in between the café and the water. As luck had it, an extremely long train happened to roll past as we sat quietly eating. It seemed like it passed right through the kitchen, it was so close! I’m sure I could have touched it had I had the inclination to poke my arm out the window!

Bec and I decided to share a handful of entrees, so we could sample a good cross section of the food. We found a lot of the menu items to have an Asian bias, which worked well for us, loving Asian food as we do.

So, we had:
*lobster and prawn Vietnamese rice paper rolls with green papaya lime dressing ($22)
*chips and garlic aioli ($6)
*seared prawn dumplings in a fragrant lemongrass broth with shitake mushroom and green onion ($18)
*dukka coated deep fried camembert with pecan pear salad, quince jam and balsamic onion ($17.80)
*char grilled haloumi, eggplant, sweet potato and zucchini stack with pomegranate dressing ($17.80)
*Thai inspired grilled calamari with soba noodle salad and coriander vinaigrette ($18)

and for dessert:
*chocolate brulee with French teacake and orange cardamom ice cream ($14.50)
*banana tempura with vanilla ice cream and honey caramel sauce ($11.50)

It was all gorgeous, but the standouts for me were the lemongrass broth dish, and the honey caramel sauce that accompanied the tempura banana.

I am SO glad we stopped there and lunched, and wholeheartedly endorse everyone else’s recommendations – this is certainly the place to go if you are heading up that way to the NW of the state.

Wild Café Restaurant
87 Main Road
Ph 03 6437 2000
(It’s just along from the giant penguin on the waterfront)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Old Cable Station at Stanley May 2013

First and foremost – a huge disclaimer – I need to disclose at the outset that this is my ex-husband Don and his partner Charlotte I’m writing about today. As with most long-since divorced couples, all the animosity which caused the divorce has evaporated. We are both different people, and have moved on well and truly from events of over 20 years ago. Having said that, you can’t live with someone for a number of years, and share two children with them without knowing how they operate as a human being. You, of all people, can see behind the façade presented to the world as a whole. So with that in mind, what I say about the way Don and Charlotte operate, as the subject of my ramblings today, should be interpreted appropriately.

Don is the consummate hospitality and tourism professional. He trained at Drysdale in the late 70’s and has been in the industry ever since, hence is totally at home with setting customers at their ease, and making them feel like nothing is too much trouble for he and his fellow staff at Cable Station. He also possesses an extensive knowledge of the history and geography of Tasmania, in particular the NW region, thus making him an ideal font of knowledge for the many visitors to the state who find themselves overnighting at the Cable Station.

Charlotte previously owned and ran the Old Cable Station in Stanley (as well as a restaurant in Broome, WA) before she met Don a few years back. Both of their separate relationships broke down and they found themselves as a couple with a shared interest in, and passion for, food and hospitality. Charlotte in particular is THE most devoted person to the wellbeing and promotion of tourism in Tasmania (and most particularly, NW Tasmania – their region) that I have ever met.

The Cable Station is a combination Bed and Breakfast, and restaurant. They provide upmarket accommodation, all with ensuites, and superb regional food. Bec and I travelled to Stanley on Wednesday for Bec's maiden visit to this little town and the Cable Station. We had a fantastic few days away, and were spoilt rotten by Don and Charlotte, while they experimented on us with potential dishes (Drunken Crayfish, featuring a whiskey cream sauce) for their upcoming menu, and treated Bec to a tourists tour around the area. We returned to Hobart on Friday night, exhausted but satiated!

Amongst her other attributes (ie putting up with my ex-husband!!), Charlotte is absolutely devoted to providing as much local and regional produce and product in her operation as is humanly possible. Luckily for her, she worked with Rick Stein in Cornwell for a few years, and it’s obvious the training in seafood cookery in particular has been beneficial, given that Stanley is a seaside town with a busy port full of fishing vessels constantly bringing in an assortment of freshly caught seafood.

In the luxury spa suite (which was our allocated suite for the two days we stayed), you will find a breakfast pack containing only local produce: individualized packaged bacon from Black Ridge Farm, local free range eggs, St Omer butter, Mathom Farm yoghurt, Rocky Gardens jams and marmalade, Red Cow Dairy bottled milk (yep – the genuine old fashioned bottle of milk, with the cream floating on the top!), Spreyton apple juice, Charlottes sourdough bread, Chado tea, Ritual coffee. In the ensuites, you’ll find M+B organic shampoo, conditioner, soap and body lotion. They’re preparing to use goat soap from Mathom Farm as well when the owner gets his processes for the soap making fine-tuned.

The cost for a stay and dine package for 2 people in the spa suite is $279 for the first night, and $155 for the second night. The ‘dine’ aspect of the package includes a 3 course dinner, plus the breakfast ingredients to be found in the suite as described above. Naturally, should guests desire, breakfast can be cooked for them in the restaurant as well, or they could use the BBQ facilities if they wanted.

Another aspect of Charlotte’s fanaticism for regional products is the Producers Lunches held in the restaurant every 3 months (at the change of seasons), which she instigated 6 years ago, with the aim of a providing a long table of interested diners to eat a beautiful lunch, and drink regional wines, along with as many of the people who produced/grew/milled etc all the food and wine eaten and drunk there that day that she can persuade to attend, speak to everyone about their products, and not self-effacingly hide their talents and skills! This lunch has become amazingly popular and is always booked out well in advance. The next one will be on 14th July (winter) featuring John T Bailey (ex Banc Restaurant in Swansea) as guest chef and is already fully subscribed, as is the following one (spring) in October!

But – if you ‘Like’ their Facebook page, or add yourself to their email list ( you will receive notification of upcoming events besides the Producers Lunches. For instance they are planning a Whiskey Dinner in July, where all courses will be based around the use of whiskey as the main ingredient.

Charlotte is, to quote Michael Caton from the movie “The Castle”, an ideas man (or woman as is the case here!). She is choc full of all manner of clever ideas and concepts for her region, which, knowing her, I’m sure she’ll get off the ground.

They bought a food van a while back which they've used to travel all around the north of the state, including Festivale in Launceston, Agfest, Bicheno Food and Wine Festival, Deloraine Craft Fair and many others, selling their unique food, such as BBQ octopus, wagyu pies and salmon burgers. They have also participated in the Taste of Tasmania for the past two years. Their stall at Festivale this year, judged by Stephanie Alexander, won Best Tasting Plate for their cured gravlax plate. The van has also just spent the summer at Boat Harbour Beach catering to the beachgoers.

Venison (from Springfield Farm, Mole Creek) carpaccio

Tasmanian canola oil

Mathom Farm yoghurt

Rocky Gardens marmalade

St Omer butter

Breakfast goodies (above and below)

M+B bathroom products (Tasmanian)

Ritual coffee, Hill Farm Dragons breath mustard, Larks whiskey

What sets Don and Charlotte’s enterprise apart from many other businesses in Tasmania, who also focus 100% of their time, energy and expertise on stocking or using as much Tasmanian product as possible (eg RVL, Peppermint Bay, The Source, Garagistes, Ut Si, Ethos etc) is the fact that not only do Don and Charlotte feature their Tasmanian food and wine produce but also follow it through in the accommodation side of the business. They have total credibility in this regard, and I must salute their devotion to all things Tasmanian.