It was great while it lasted, but sadly Clemens Hill have had to close their doors.
Who doesn’t love a wood fire on a crisp autumn day in Tasmania?
To be honest though, I’ve never needed an excuse to enjoy a nice hot crackling fire…gazing hypnotically into the swiftly shifting curtains of flame, growing ever higher with each new piece of fuel thrown both eagerly and expertly into the maelstrom at its core; poking, prodding, urging, beseeching the hot tongues to rise up and consume…
As the bloke in Tasmania responsible for minimising bushfire risk due to electrical infrastructure I probably shouldn’t be making admissions like that, but hey, we all need a hobby right?*
Ever since I was a lad I’ve had a fascination with fire; never with malicious intent but enough to result in the odd injury. One of my earliest memories whilst living in Indonesia is of poking around in a fire, failing to realise the coiled energy in a red hot piece of fencing wire and suffering the inevitable scorched forearm that to this day still bears the faintest of scars. Cause and effect; an important lesson!
The last time we visited 27 Bridge Street in the historic village of Richmond must have been more than five years ago when it was known as the Richmond Food and Wine Centre. The fact we never returned, particularly considering that we live only five minutes away, gives you an indication of how it compared to other dining options that emerged around Hobart in the following years.
Times change, and the sprawling property has only recently been taken over by Clemens Hill, one of the many (and better quality) Coal River Valley wineries.
(I would have loved to have been able to post a photo of Clemens Hill from the road, but one of the customers out front was giving me daggers, so it probably wouldn’t be the best advertisement!)
It was the menu that first caught our eye whilst walking past some weeks earlier, no doubt on a Saturday morning search for coffee. Ranging from small plates to larger offerings, and a good selection of their own wines, it sounded like the perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon, and the fact that they had an epic open fire roaring away in the atrium out the back was the icing on the cake!
One of the benefits of visiting Clemens Hill is that it doubles as both restaurant and wine cellar. On the specials blackboard we noticed they were offering a 2009 sparkling blanc de blanc by the glass ($13). This wine can’t be bought commercially, and is only available through the restaurant. It’s early days for this style of wine by Clemens Hill (only their first vintage if I recall correctly?), and wasn’t originally planned to be released this early, but it was tasting so good they unleashed it on an unsuspecting public!
Unfortunately the white fish ceviche wasn’t available the day we visited, so we tried the replacement instead. While it wasn’t advertised as such, the salad was, for all intents and purposes, a deconstructed niçoise.
It doesn’t matter what form it takes, if duck is on the menu it can not be denied!! The duck was tender, rich and well seasoned, contrasting deliciously with the tangy salsa on the side. The pastry had been made from scratch as well, as we observed when walking past on the way to our table, the baker furiously kneading and shaping the dough with salty vigour!
18 hours of slow cooking had rendered these beef cheeks down magnificently. How some diners could complain that they were ‘too fatty’ is beyond me. Gelatinous, yes, but fatty, never! Beef cheeks are the king of winter dishes, and I can see them being a really popular choice over the coming months. Apple and fennel is a classic match, and they cut through the rich gravy nicely. The presentation did leave a little to be desired, but they are beef cheeks after all!
A couple of great dining options have emerged or evolved within the Coal River Valley in recent times; namely, Frogmore Creek and The Coterie. It’s such good news to be able to add a third to that list, with Clemens Hill promising much and delivering more!
We loved design of the atrium, complete with log fire, and chilled out background music. The perfect location to recline languidly, soaking up the wan winter sun streaming through the floor-to-ceiling windows. There’s also plenty of room on the grass for the kids to run amok, while mum and dad enjoy a cheeky red on the other side of the glass!
The menu is extensive, with some really interesting bite-sized options that would complement a glass of wine perfectly. Unusually, despite the number of options on offer, the quality of the food seems undiminished!
The service provided by the team at Clemens Hill was ebullient to say the least (thank you Juppy!)! It’s been happening more often these days, but I could tell that they recognised us when we walked in. Regardless, I’d like to think that the service we received was no different to that offered to every other patron.
It’s our new local, it’s better than all the other options in Richmond, and I can foresee a return by this not-so-closet pyromaniac sometime very soon!
For more information, drop by their website here – Clemens Hill
They’ve also got an engaging social media presence on Facebook here – Clemens Hill on Facebook
Lunch – 7 days: 11am – 5pm
Dinner – Fri-Sat: 5pm – 8:30pm
ps. I’m getting sick of writing so many glowing reviews!! It’s about time I unearthed a shocker…(not sure I’ll be visiting Mures anytime soon though after John L’s recent review!)
* Jokes ok? Just in case you hadn’t worked it out yet 😀