Once upon a time, in a land far, far away from Sydney’s sophisticated dining set, or Melbourne’s melting pot of international cuisine, there was a tiny little town on the shores of a big blue river, feeling lonely and unloved.
“Why do they get to have all the fun?”, grumbled the sad collection of weather beaten wharves and ramshackle pubs. “I’m fun too aren’t I? It’s just not fair!”
And so it was that The Federal Group decided to give the people of mainland Australia a destination, a place unlike any other in what was a conservative post-war era. A casino!
Wrest Point actually started it’s life purely as a hotel back in the 1930s, but with the construction of its gaming rooms and iconic tower on Hobart’s skyline in the 1960s and 70s containing, of all things, a revolving restaurant, it became so much more. They were ahead of their time in providing not only the high rollers, but ordinary mums, dads and pensioners a destination. A place in which they could watch a show, enjoy a meal (simple or extravagant), stay the night and imagine, if only for a moment, that they were brushing shoulders with the rich and famous in Australia’s closest thing to the French Riviera.
They were innovative, they were divisive and, for good or bad, they will be remembered.
It’s an interesting parallel to Hobart’s current dining landscape, with many new venues carving a niche for themselves, not only the minds of Australian’s but internationally and with much success. We are yet to see where this all leads, whether it will remain a destination for appreciators of fine food and wine in forty years time. All I can say is, I hope it doesn’t go the way of Wrest Point.
To say they’ve been resting on their laurels would be an understatement of the grandest proportions. They’ve been resting so long they’ve got bed sores!
While the service throughout our stay, both within the casino and the Point Revolving Restaurant itself was very good, the environment in which we found ourselves immersed for two days was that of a throwback to the 80s. A fine thing indeed if you were actually living in the 70s, but 30 years on…?!
A prime example was the room in which we stayed. Not the most expensive room in the building, but getting pretty close (thank you Entertainment Card!). The views of the Derwent River, Tasman Bridge and Bellerive were spectacular and the tall windows make the most of the panorama, but that’s where the superlatives come to a grinding halt.
The ceiling looked like someone had sneezed a mouthful of faux-concrete onto the floor of the room above and promptly designated it post-modern industrialism, the style of the future.
In fact, the last time I had the misfortune of such a hideous view from my bed was in a tiny hotel room in Rockhampton nearly seven years ago. Surely that says something?!
The furnishings looked like they’d been taken from the set of an 80s sitcom. Family Ties perhaps? Who’s the Boss?
Much gauze. Many beige. Wow.
To top it off, this was the gift that kept on giving. The side table of never-ending emptiness.
It was like watching someone eating with their mouth open. As hard as I tried, it just wouldn’t stay shut.
I considered taking a photo of the carpet up in the Point Revolving Restaurant, but I honestly think I would have cracked a lens. Thank goodness the food was good!
Prices were around $26 for entrees, $45 for main courses and $18 for desserts, placing the Point firmly in the upper echelon of Tasmanian dining.
The quality was excellent and the presentation very good, but it isn’t the best we’ve come across in Hobart. While Franklin and Monty’s don’t have the views of the Point, everything else they offer is a cut above and they remain my go-to recommendations for any visitors to our fair shores.
We aren’t connoisseurs by any means, simply enthusiastic consumers, but it seemed that the wine selection was very comprehensive. Strangely, our waiter was unable to offer a ‘by the glass’ recommendation for each of our courses, with the sommelier also hesitating in his recommendations. Unusual and unexpected for such a high-end establishment that must surely receive questions like that on a regular basis?
If you can ignore the hideous décor, the Point Revolving Restaurant is a great place to celebrate a special occasion with your family or significant other.
The strategy adopted by the Federal Group is astute, but sells itself short and is a lost opportunity. By leveraging their reputation as the sole gaming venue in southern Tasmania, they cleverly market themselves as a ‘destination’. Yet once you succumb to the lure of the bright lights it quickly becomes apparent that you’re an unwitting participant within their captive market, with limited options for recourse that don’t involve a taxi into town.
Once upon a time they DID offer a high-end and superior alternative to the options in central Hobart, but over the last ten years the burgeoning restaurant scene has fast overtaken the Point Revolving Restaurant and left it playing in the corner with it’s familiar, if infantile toys. A significant cash injection and new blood is what’s needed. They do still offer a point of difference, and a reinvigoration doesn’t necessarily need to come at the risk of alienating their core clientèle, but under their current strategy this opportunity will never be realised and remain forever lost. Heaven forbid David Walsh ever opens a competing casino at Mona, because at their current rate Wrest Point would fast become the Sizzler of the gaming world.
For more information regarding accommodation options, drop by Wrest Point’s website – Wrest Point
If it’s the Point Revolving Restaurant you’re interested in then go here – Point Revolving Restaurant