The struggle is real people!!
Over the last couple of years Hobart has looked more like Meerkat Manor than State capital, with restaurants, cafes and coffee shops popping up everywhere!
While we’re yet to see Meerkat ragout on a menu, as food writers you’d think this would be easy street with so many options at hand. But put yourselves in our shoes for a minute and you’ll realise that we’re in a constant state of tension…
New venues and teams need time to work as a cohesive unit. Yet as food writers time is not our friend. Understandably, our fellow foodies want the low-down NOW!
Am I better off spending a week’s wage on that swish new venue down at Salamanca for our anniversary that’s only been open three days, or should I stick with our old favourite that we know offers great value for money…?
Sometimes our stomachs rules our heads.
Actually…’sometimes’ is telling porkies! Take Pancho Villa for example. We were in there faster than they could roll their first taco!!
Thankfully it paid off. Big time!
It could so easily have gone the other way, and that’s when the mettle of a food writer is truly tested.
Should we really be jumping online to criticise a new business in its first couple of weeks of operation? Is public pillory really very fair when I know myself that I’ve been in the same job for two years now and I still produce crap first thing on a Monday?!!
I know, different business, different product, different expectations…but I’m sure you get it.
There is no right or wrong answer, but for us (procrastinators unite!!) we tend to wait.
They’ve been open nigh on 6 months now, on the old site that used to house West Hobart’s Hill Street Grocer.
It’s incredible what they’ve done with the building, transforming it from dark, pokey and claustrophobic to vibrant, bright and spacious. They call it “Memphis-style”…whatever that means!! Peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwiches perhaps…?
In their first weeks though, we had never seen such a depressing menu. With such pedigree behind Smolt Kitchen we were surprised and disappointed to find it so uninspiring to our palates.
As always, assumptions are made. Mostly incorrect. And in this instance we thought it could have been the demographic of the local area that was influencing what we saw as traditional, staid and vapid affair.
In a matter of weeks though we noticed changes. For what reason we’re not sure. Seasonality of ingredients? Diner feedback? Chef’s preference? We’ll likely never know, but bit by bit the menu grew into something genuinely inspiring, without crossing over to the avant-garde.
A great menu on paper is one thing, but it better taste better than paper on which it’s written!!
Smolt Kitchen delivered one of the best lunches we’ve eaten in quite a while.
Duck breast carpaccio isn’t a common dish and we weren’t sure what to expect. As you can see from the colour of the thinly shaved meat, rather than raw this was more a cured style of carpaccio.
Fruit/meat combinations aren’t a favourite of mine, but in this instance the medjool dates provided a very pleasing sweetness to the plate. Sparsely scattered diced Spanish onion added bite, and the perfectly ripe avocado welcome depth to what was otherwise a light, fresh and delicious meal.
More duck! This time off their regular lunch menu. Specifically, pappardelle, braised duck, mascarpone and reggiano.
That gravy…I could have swum laps in it! I could have bathed in it! Call me Manu and baptise me now in the name of baby cheesus!
Thank goodness I still had some bread left over, all the better for mopping duties.
As good as it was, an unfortunate outcome was a slight dilution to the earthy flavours of the duck, but this is quibbling. The pappardelle was substantial, prepared just right and suiting the hearty nature of the dish.
As if that wasn’t enough, they then had the audacity to present us with this plate of sweetness to share.
Sharing is so overrated…such a shame it’s essential to a successful marriage.
Persian love cake with labneh and rhubarb is its name, and it provided a very satisfying mix of savoury (much praise for the judicious use of herbs), sweet and sour with which to cleanse the palate and finish the meal.
Overall thoughts of Smolt Kitchen?
Smolt Kitchen is one of those venues that you would be proud to call your ‘local’. We gave them time, and they used to it to great effect!
At its heart the food really stands out as something special. And then in support you have a really interesting wine list with clear influences from heavy-hitters Frank and Smolt, background music that was surprisingly alternative for such a venue (in a good way…The Shins anyone?!), and service that improved throughout the meal after a slow and distracted start.
The place was buzzing on the Saturday afternoon we dropped by, and with people from all walks of life. The open plan suits itself just as well to groups as it does to an outing with family and small children in tow. In fact, we noticed some pretty funky looking rocking horse type seat thingamibobs in the corner…I don’t know their exact purpose (spot the child-free foodie!) but they looked capable of amusing either the most distracted of toddlers or inebriated of adults.
Was it value for money? We’d say yes. Just.
When looking at main sized lunch meals the prices are at the upper end of the scale for a suburban eatery, and while the quality was fantastic I can see the price point deterring many. In saying that though there are many smaller sized dishes available and the breakfast menu is more closely aligned to other options around town.
If you’re looking for a meal with a difference, and don’t mind forking out for quality, drop by Smolt Kitchen and see what you think!
Smolt Kitchen are located on the corner of Hill Street and Pine Street, where the old Hill Street Grocer used to be located.
You can find more information on their excellent website here – Smolt Kitchen
Alternatively they are always posting up plenty of updates on Facebook here – Smolt Kitchen on Facebook
During winter they open 7 days, with breakfast available until 11:30am.
Sunday to Tuesday: Breakfast and lunch only, 8am-5pm
Wednesday to Saturday: Breakfast, lunch and dinner, 8am-8.30pm
Double check opening details as summer approaches, as they are likely to change.