When we were recently in Tassie we wanted to take Dad for a nice lunch for his birthday. I had originally booked Strathlyn, a restaurant at the Ninth Island Cellar door in Rosevears, down the East Tamar where we have been before and always had a good meal.
The Monday before our booking I received a phone call from Adnam, the restaurant manager, to advise me that the restaurant was closing down and therefore we would not be able to dine there the coming Sunday. An article in the local paper stated the closure was due to slow trade and the restaurant would still be open for functions. Adnam told me a lot of Launceston restaurants were closing down, which is really sad, as Tassie has been slowly growing a reputation for great food and the quality of the dining scene has definitely improved. I asked Adnam for some recommendations of where else to go before wishing him and his staff good luck for the future.
After speaking to my Mum and getting some other ideas from her (one of which was another restaurant that turned out to have closed down as well), I booked The Gorge Restaurant.
The Gorge Restaurant is located in The Cataract Gorge, which is just on the fringe of Launceston and one of my favourite places, it is so beautiful. Find out more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cataract_Gorge
I have always heard good things about The Gorge Restaurant and we had tried to book a few years ago for Mum’s birthday, but even with a month’s notice in the middle of winter we couldn’t get a table.
Luckily, this time we were able to get a table for Sunday lunch at short notice.
The day itself was miserable, it had started raining in the early hours of the morning and did not stop until after 5pm. This made for a wet walk from the carpark down to the restaurant. We walked down the road as there were less puddles that way, but there is also a stepped path. It is also possible to drive down closer to the restaurant, drop off those who can’t, or won’t, walk down and drive back up and park.
The building the restaurant is in used to be the tea rooms and not much has been done to modernise it or make it cool and funky, which is a good thing.
On a cold wet winter’s day, with the open fire blazing and almost all the tables occupied, the daggy green walls and wooden interior work. It was really cosy and comfortable and the place had a good buzz to it.
This was the view over my right shoulder.
To start with, Dad and J had James Boags beers.
Mum had a glass of Josef Chromy Chardonnay and I had a glass of Bay of Fires sparkling rosé.
It was a very generous pour and the only complaint I can make about the service was that this glass, and another sparkling I had later on, was banged onto the table, almost spilling the contents.
The Gorge Restaurant offers a winter special, two courses for $39.60 and three courses for around $46. This is extremely good value, especially when you take into consideration the size of the servings.
We ordered some bread, which came with three different butters; garlic, herb and a semi-dried tomato flavour.
Mum and Dad both had caramelised smoked quail with hazlenut and orange salad and raspberry dressing for entrée. They liked it, but were surprised that it was a cold dish. They have had quail here previously and it was a hot dish.
I had wallaby salad with chevre and pink peppercorn dressing. It was nice but didn’t blow me away, the wallaby was perfectly cooked and would be a good introduction to those who wanted to try it for the first time. This dish was also a cold dish.
J had seared tuna with tomato bruschetta and garlic aioli which he really enjoyed, he said it was very light and refreshing.
We ordered a bottle of 2009 Josef Chromy Chardonnay to share.
Our mains were up next and you can choose to have salad or vegetables with them Once we heard what the day’s vegetables were, we all went them without a second thought; roast potato, broccoli, carrots and seasoned tomatoes.
J and Dad both had pork rib eye with warm spiced apple chutney. J reckons it is the best piece of pork he has in a long time, and there was barely any fat on it.
I had chicken breast roulade filled with roasted capsicum, spinach and fetta. It was really good, but massive, I couldn’t eat it all.
Mum had confit of duck with shiraz poached figs. J helped her out with the figs.
We were all quite full after mains and asked if we could have a break before looking at the menu and ordering any desserts.
The Gorge is known for its peacocks, which roam the grounds stealing food off innocent and naive tourists.
They are gorgeous birds, and quite a few came and gathered on the undercover decking at the restaurant out of the rain. This fellow was acting as greeter just outside the door, and was looking quite bedraggled and sorry for himself.
J ordered a glass of Josef Chromy Pinot Noir and I had a glass of Ninth Island sparkling.
We finally got motivated to order dessert. Mum and J shared citrus tart with passionfruit gelato. Dad also chose this dessert.
I had to have something chocolate, so chose the chocolate ripple vacherin with kahula cream. I had no idea what vacherin was, but it sounded good! I just googled it and it is (from www.thefreedictionary.com):
2. (Cookery) a dessert consisting of a meringue shell filled with whipped cream, ice cream, fruit, etc.
I am not sure my dessert matched the second definition, and it definitely wasn’t cheese. I would say it was like an ice cream with chocolate bits through it. There was a layer of something coffee flavoured in there as well, and the whole thing was delicious, not to mention huge! Thankfully, mum and dad both helped me out.
It as an excellent meal, I would definitely recommend The Gorge Restaurant to anyone visiting Launceston, and to the locals of course!