Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of being a lady who lunched at Smolt Kitchen in lovely West Hobart. Considering I’ve been back in Tasmania two weeks, it was a great opportunity for both myself and the other lady who lunched to meet for the first time, because despite Adelaide and I chatting a number of times on the phone we’d never actually met face to face.
Smolt Kitchen, which is owned by the same folks who run Smolt in Salamanca and the immensely popular Frank, opened not so long ago in the former building that housed Hill Street Store (which has moved to much larger premises around the corner). The renovation is gorgeous. It’s light, bright and airy. Decor is fun, with splashes of colour and a bit of play in shapes and materials. I really liked the open counter space, the round windows to the kitchen and the light. Oh, that light is gorgeous and who would have thought the old Hill Street Store building had it in her.
Adelaide had mentioned she’d book, but when I arrived I was told that bookings weren’t taken, except for large groups and there was one on its way today. That said, I was advised that tables regularly became available so if I sat and waited then one should be available soon. I didn’t mind, because I was a little early and Adelaide hadn’t arrived yet. She did soon after and despite it being our first face to face meeting, we greeted each other like old friends. Nice.
It didn’t take long to be offered a table and we sat, bathed in that wonderful light as we read the menus and contemplated a lunchtime glass of wine. I chose a Meadowbank Ticklebelly Chardonnay and Adelaide the Smolt Kitchen sauvignon blanc, which arrived with obligatory glasses of water and a couple of slices of bread with a pat of butter.
As we toasted and chatted we discussed food options, being rather tempted by the daily salad, of which there were two from which to choose. Both of us opted for the small daily seasonal vegetable salad ($12 for the small plate) and a shared plate of Heirloom tomatoes, Tongola goats curd, pine nuts and basil ($12).
The Meadowbank chardonnay had a light straw colour, with the sauvignon blanc a buttery yellow. Did the glasses get mixed up, we enquired? After our waitress checked, it was confirmed the glasses were correct and they were just back to front colours.
My Meadowbank was a lighter style of the variety, but showed hints of oak, nice fruit and was pleasant to drink. Adelaide said her sauvignon blanc was nice enough as well. But wine wasn’t our focus of the day, so we just sipped happily rather than critiquing our lunchtime drop.
The food arrived in good time. Small, white bread and butter plates with lovely fresh salads. The crockery was a bit underwhelming, but I guess we don’t eat that – although it does go a long way to feasting the eyes as food someone has prepared arrives. I took some obligatory photographs before we tucked in. Don’t those heirloom tomatoes look delicious?
Adelaide opted for the roasted pumpkin salad with I think rocket and pine nuts … oops, should have taken notes. Perhaps that wine was doing its lunchtime thing to my head.
My salad, of roasted root vegetables, charred red onion and fetta cheese had toasted hazelnuts through it. A wonderful surprise as I love toasted hazelnuts in salads. The dressing was delicate and mildly citrusy and altogether it was a light, tasty salad, perfect for lunch.
I spooned some of the lovely tomatoes onto my plate and tucked in.
The salads were fresh and tasty, although the tomatoes lacked something. I definitely loved the small bits of goats cheese (which I can be a bit iffy about) and pine nuts but it needed some seasoning, such as a dash of fine balsamic, or even a sprinkle of sea salt. That said, they were beautifully fresh and there was a nice array of variety about the plate.
There’s really not much more I can say about the food. It was what I could only describe as simple food done well. That’s the key – despite lacking a bit of oomph it was enjoyable and fitting for a lady who lunched with a friend.
Once our plates were empty and cleared away we both indulged in a hot chocolate. That was a bit of a shock at first. It seemed to be milk in a cup with a sprinkle of drinking chocolate on top, so I went to take mine back and ask for some chocolate. Slightly embarrassing moment – all I needed to do was stir and I would have found a lump of melting chocolate in the bottom of the cup. Stir away and it gets spread around, forming the hot chocolate I’d ordered. That said, it was still very mildly flavoured and I felt could have done with a bit more of a chocolaty hit (or warmer milk, which would have melted it better). Not bad though.
Noted above: simple food, done well.
Value for money? The bill totalled $66.40, including wine and hot chocolates. So the value isn’t bad – the salads were small but fresh, filling and well priced. Of course the wines were a $21.50 component to the bill – somewhat pricey in my humble opinion.
Would I go back? Sure I would. In fact I’m looking forward to it.