Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Manor Grill, North Hobart

I’m in a restaurant in North Hobart. There is parking galore outside the front door. The dining room is elegant. The staff unbelievably friendly, courteous and helpful. The food is absolutely faultless, of the highest quality possible, and sourced locally. The atmosphere unhurried, calm and restful – as opposed to noisy, hurried and stressful! Music is playing in the background but not blasting your ears out, meaning you can actually hear what the person with you is saying instead of relying on lip-reading!

Where is this place, I hear you ask? What North Hobart restaurant answers all the above criteria? Ponder no more, fair reader – the answer is The Manor Grill at Rydges. I know what you’re thinking! Why the hell would I venture into the dining room of Rydges? Answer: because I recommend you do before you critcise me and my judgement call!

To compare it to a similarly niched establishment, you could look at Alexanders Restaurant at Lenna, although I can’t testify as to the food quality at Alexanders because I haven’t eaten there for a good few years. Manor Grill is a variety of stately home type of environment complete with the beautiful cotton napery, gleaming stemmed wine glasses, sparkling silverware and glowing candles. In other words, an ideal spot for that special night out as well.

Marj and I ate our fill of the following:
*Manor baked fresh mini loaf and house butter $6
*Crispy squid salad, sumac spices, aioli, baby lettuce salad, blood orange dressing $18
*Eye fillet from Duck River (Tas) with green peppercorn sauce (served separately in a small jug) and a side of hand cut Bruny Island pink eye wedges with the steak topped with scallops in wine cream sauce. $35 for steak + sauce + sides, plus additional $10 for scallop topping (which was a special for last night)
*Caesar salad containing all the standard Caesar ingredients $15
*Crème caramel $10

They do Daily Specials as well. See attached link to each day of the weeks special:
$20 on a Tuesday night for a chicken parmy and glass of house wine sounds perfect to me! Ditto for the Sunday roast at $18 with red wine jus and all the trimmings.

They also do a fabulous High Tea every day from 2.00, but reservations are essential. The cost for that is $25 per head and everything presented is made in-house.

Head Chef there is Drew Van der Woude – another of the stable of talented young chefs to have emerged from Drysdale over past years and worked at Moorilla. Drew is a housemate of Roaring Grill’s Head Chef Jon Gangell so I would love the chance to share the house with them and participate in some of the off-duty meals there! Think of the parade of fine foods that would find its way to the table!

It was Jon’s recommendation a few weeks ago that I try Rydges restaurant. He said the food standard was very high and I was missing out by not going along there! I love a hot tip, so having had the carrot dangled in front of me, I was SO there! I didn’t realize at the time though that he and Drew lived together!

We walked in and were immediately met by waitress Kirsty who introduced herself, showed us to our table and told us she would be looking after us tonight. She wasn’t repeating, parrot-like, a pre-rehearsed line that she was told to tell everyone who arrived for a booking. She said it in a friendly and natural manner. And she kept her word. She looked after us better than anyone I can think of recently.

She explained the specials for the evening, made sure we were happy with drinks, topped up ice cold water continually, described dishes as we enquired and checked each course was to our liking, answered my probing questions about the chef and his menu, and did some very nifty upselling at the same time, managing to slip into the conversation about the existence of the Rydges Priority Guests Rewards scheme, which is free to join and allows you all sorts of great benefits, both accommodation-wise and meal-wise down the track, if you join up. It sounded so fabulous I signed up on the spot!

Mostly catering to functions and house guests staying in the hotel, Rydges menus are reasonably standard, and don’t push the envelope too far. Having said that, everything is done to such a high standard that I don’t think anyone would be too concerned about there being no accompanying quinoa flavoured with caramelized watercress and blue gum crème fraiche, or other wanky concoctions to go with the steaks!

I won’t do a mouthful by mouthful description of each plate of food we had. They are what they are. As previously stated, it was all of such a high standard that I deem that small descriptive detail unnecessary and insulting to you and your imagination!

In short – get along there as soon as possible, and try to prove me wrong! I guarantee you won’t be able to!

Rydges Hotel
Cnr Argyle and Lewis Streets
North Hobart
Ph: 6231 1588

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