Sunday, November 06, 2011

Goodness me ...

Well, it's been some time. Had another baby. I'm done now. Thank you. Having said that, I'm not going to be any more use as a restaurant reviewer than I've been for the past three years, so it is time to say goodbye for now.

Thank you to those who shared the passion, disagreed with me, supported me, and pissed me off. It's been a blast.

GW the HRB

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Orizuru is Lost

Orizuru has been tarted up.

There is a beautiful counter of reclaimed timber, an open kitchen inviting you to peek in, a tiny sushi bar (which I missed when I arrived), and a cute (if confusing) cubby hole in which to pay one’s bill. Black ropes hang from the ceiling to demarcate a square section of the restaurant (why, I don’t know – perhaps to house non-existent couches??). Behind the counter is an intriguing piece of what I suspect to be reclaimed Japanese commercial visual merchandising – large squares of Japanese kanji alternating with squares of blackboard. Cool.

But …

Cleaning products, buckets, dirty tea-towels, a responsible service of alcohol poster, boxes piled to waist height, a dishwasher tray stacked with tumblers … Jarring against the attempt at a clean modern-Japanese design aesthetic.

And then …

My tempura was soggy. And service was sloppy … but they were understaffed.

Here’s the thing … when you take the plunge and tart up a well established eatery like Orizuru, the rest of the socks need to be pulled up too. The food needs to be spot on, the service needs to be tight, and for heaven’s sake at least some tidiness!

There was nothing wrong with the old Orizuru … the pine tables and paper screens had a 70s fishing wharf authenticity, and progress is a good thing, but loyal customers (like me) want to feel that despite the new surroundings, the place they loved hasn’t been lost.

But sadly, Orizuru is lost.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

I was right the first time

Was thinking this morning about the compromises one becomes prepared to make when trying to get out and about with kids.

I've been to the Margate Pancake Train for brunch (never done that before) ... and was surprised by just how good the cofffee and the pancakes with bacon and maple syrup (don't knock it til you've tried it) turned out to be. Better yet, the toddler-in-tow had a ball eating his "bekkin" on "Thomas".

But then I forgot my acidic impressions of old and ventured back to the ball, I mean Nose Bag. What was I thinking? Toys. They have toys, I thought. Well. The service was friendly and prompt. And that's the best I can say. Our food was tres, tres, average. The coffee was awful. And the toys were absolutely FILTHY! Now, I'm not a clean freak by any stretch. Build up their immune systems I say. But jeez this was shocking. To top it off, the object of my ire all those years ago gave a passive-aggressive little huff because Toddler left some finger prints behind. No running amok, no throwing things, no tantrums. Just finger prints. So much for child-friendly. Honestly.

So here's my tip for the child endowed: Take crayons, toys, portable DVD player (whatever it takes) and go to your usual haunts. Forget so called kid-friendly, head for the good gear.

Here's my other tip: Try out the Margate Pancake Train for something different. It really is worth the drive.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Ah, yeah, sorry about the delay!

What can I say ... it has been two and a half years! What happened? Well, when they say "your life as you know it will end" once you have kids ...

Friends, we're just going to have to take this slowly. I know you want to know nought about nappies, teething, and [heaven help us] breast feeding, so you'll just have to bide a while as I slowly re-enter the world of dining grown-up-style.

Step 1. Have babysitter, will eat.

Was recently invited to an event at a "gentlemen's club". And no, I wasn't the entertainment. A black tie affair at the Tasmania Club. Quail entree - very excellent. Perfectly medium rare eye fillet. Excellent wine list. This venue is for members and their guests only, and is perhaps something of a hidden Hobart treasure. If you can get past the stuffy formality of this old world relic, find a member, get yourself invited, and go dammit!

Step 2. Dine during the day.

Breakfast has become the new dinner. Well, for those of us who are up before dawn! Lower Sandy Bay's two beachside venues: the Beach House and the Ball Bag, I mean Nose Bag, are both kid friendly and do good coffee. Food at the Beach House is far superior.

Step 3. Get excited about something

The much promised, then hopes-dashed, now much-promised-again Belgian baker is [definitely] opening in Taroona. Been to Belgium ... so I'm a bit excited about the prospect of a real waffle. Please, oh please, oh please.

Oh, and Garagiste anyone? Where is that babysitter ... gotta get me there [not sure about those commie shared tables though].

That's it for now ... thanks to those of you who have remained vigilant for me getting my act back together. Posts won't be frequent, but they will heppen.

Glad to be back,
HRB ;-)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Where's Georgie?

After something of a sabbatical, Georgie will return soon with not a nice word to say about anyone.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Catch as Catch Can

Here’s a brief note on Catch, located in the old Rockefellers site in Morrison St at the waterfront.

Delicious. Stylish. Friendly.

Check out the website if you will (although it looks like the listed menus might be out-of-date). Better yet, just go. Apart from the screaming hyena at a nearby table (surely it wasn’t that funny, love), the ambience was as tasteful and warm as the food.

We sampled:
• Carpaccio of beef – Divine
• Cured ocean trout – Gorgeous
• Fish cake with king prawns – Not bad
• What I really loved … The Fish Pie – Wholesome, old-fashioned, gorgeous.

Go check it out. I’ll definitely be back!


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Me Wah Marque II

I really had to give this some thought. And why the rush? Me Wah's own website ( doesn't have their Hobart restaurant listed and even their Hobart online Yellow Pages ad shows an interior of the Launceston flagship.

It took me three visits to come to write anything, and then I'm still not sure. Here are the main things to consider:

1. This is a classy joint. More staff than you can poke a chopstick at. Crisp linen on the tables. Gorgeous silver rests for spoons and chopsticks. A wine list (and after dinner drinks trolley) to get rather excited about (even if your wallet chokes).

2. The service is very attentive. Shared dishes are not just plonked in the middle of the table, but served out to each diner. White wine is stored in a grand ice "bucket" (more a ceremonial-style bowl) in the centre of the room once opened.

3. Enclosed banquet rooms are just asking for trouble. Delightful (on the whole) decorations indicate money has been well and truly spent. Even the toilets are a treat.
4. Food? That's where I get stuck. Have been for dinner twice and lunch once (no yum cha ... sorry gang). On each occasion the meal averaged $100 per head (including wine). Not cheap. But that's silver service, isn't it?
Here's what I've sampled:
Soups - Have tried the Shark Fin Soup and the Duck Soup - both awesome
Wild Harvest Scallops - Average (better at Golden Harbour)
Jumbo Oysters - Over the top, should be experienced at least once
Seafood Medallions - Best avoided
Crab Dumplings - Beautiful the first time, subsequent samplings good but didn't repeat that standard
Duck Sang Choy Bao - Great (if somewhat OTT)
Vegetable Curry - Terrible, very "maggi"
Salt & Pepper Prawns - Not great (better at Golden Harbour)
Whole Fish - Snapper? Who knows? Disappointing regardless
Peking Duck - Delicious even if serving size disappoints
Dessert sampler - Amazing. Fantastic bird-shaped pastry thing stuffed with red bean paste (not to everyone's taste), and other delights
And more ...
To be brutally honest, I think you will get much better food (on my experience, others beg to differ) at Golden Harbour. For about half the price or less. Naturally you will not get the same experience though.
Me Wah is a "special occasion" restaurant. It plays this card for all it's worth. Lions at the door, wait-staff saturation, gorgeous decoration, and so on. Go for a treat. But unfortunately this won't become your Friday night regular (or your Sunday lunch hangover cure). Will I go back? Shit yeah, but it will be for a cashed-up banquet. None of this dicking around with the al a carte menu. Banquet options start at $65 per head.
To be fair, this place is based on the reputation of an outstanding Launceston Me Wah tradition. It is a grand enterprise in its infancy. There are enough elements to give a hint of Little Bourke St. I say, let's give it a chance to find its feet. Be patient.