The courageous Possum-Bride and the intrepid Bandicoot recently came back from Tasmania. We spent our days communing with quolls, debating with devils, and doing the marsupial thing, generally.
But while we were in Launceston, we went to a restaurant called ‘Stillwater’.
We were staying at a comically awful hotel in Launceston. We drove across town and nabbed a parking spot, from where we could walk across West Tamar Road.
Now Stillwater is built in a beautiful old flour mill, in the Cataract Gorge, which is on the Tamar River. The building is very nice; built in the 1830’s, it’s very inviting, with a nice, warm atmosphere. It’s set up so that the kitchen is partly open and lies along one side of the dining room. And the dining room is very nice; comfortable chairs and benches, leather and wood, the lot.
The menu is AWESOME. (And they don’t make a fuss if you want to drink rum with dinner either!)
The P-B and I agreed that we would go hard and try to have three courses each. And we agreed to share the good bits, so could both taste everything.
So! What did we eat?
Entrée 1. (Me) Slow-cooked Mount Gnomon pork belly, pear anise purée, broccolini stem purée, puffed pork skin, and boudin noir. It was beautiful! The pork was ridiculous; you could have cut it with your shoulder blade. And the little bits that accompanied it were (mostly) divinely inspired. The pear purée was wonderful, not overly sweet, with a little bit of anise in it. The mashed broccolini stem was lovely (I wept at thought of all the broccolini stems I’ve thrown out!) And the black pudding was great; it was bloody and raw-tasting and it really offset the sweet pork and sweeter pear purée. Only the puffed pork skin seemed a little out of place; it was nice texturally, but it was presented in one big piece (like the fried pork skin you get at pubs) and after you ate it in one big mouthful (it was impossible to cut), the rest of the dish still seemed pretty good. Overall, I give it 3.5 Bandicoot Snouts out of a possible 5.
Entrée 2. (P-B). Rannoch Farm duck, jus, basil veloute, a little pastry thing, sautéed mushrooms. The P-B’s duck was perfectly cooked; sautéed then finished off in the oven. It had a little jus under it to moisten it, and green basil veloute on top. It also had a sort of vol-au-vent thing, with mixed sautéed mushrooms in it, probably wild. The duck, with the jus and the basil veloute was wonderful. (For obvious reasons, I didn’t taste the vile fungus). Overall, the P-B gave it 3.5 Possum Tails out of a possible 5.
Main Course 1. (Me). Slow-cooked Flinders Island salt grass lamb rump, pickled globe artichoke, herb and fennel pollen emulsion, and beetroot. A very accomplished dish. The lamb was pretty well perfect, cooked to the upper end of medium (NOT medium-rare, which is well underdone for lamb. In general, people who order lamb rare are wankers, trying to impress). The globe artichokes were very pleasant, the herb emulsion sauce was very good, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the beetroot was cooked in three different ways. The only thing that jarred was the pollen – I couldn’t taste a damn thing apart from thyme and sage. I think the pollen may have been a step too far; not unpleasant, merely superfluous to requirements. Overall, despite the fact that I enjoyed the pork more, I give it 3.75 Bandicoot Snouts out of a possible 5
Main Course 2. (P-B). Dry aged Springfield Venison loin, mushroom sponge, white onion and Pyengana Cheddar soubise, green raisins, and jus gras. OK. The P-B’s venison was wonderful. Dry-aged (it must’ve been faintly green when it was taken down!) it was cooked medium-rare and served on top of very buttery chicken jus and some marinated green grape raisins. The fact that it was chicken jus, not venison jus, lightened the dish very well; venison jus would’ve been overpowering. And the sweet-sour raisins gave the venison the acid touch that it often needs. Oh, and there was some sort of fungus thing too. But damn! the star was the sauce on top. Generally, sauce soubise is made from sauce Béchamel, cooked not too thick, with strained, boiled onion added to it. But THIS soubise was made from onions, gently sautéed in butter, and strained, mixed into Béchamel, with a stack of aged Cheddar added too. It was GLORIOUS! Overall, the P-B gave it a full 4 Possum Tails out of a possible 5!
Alas, by this time, I was stuffed. So the indomitable P-B had to assay dessert alone.
Dessert 1. (P-B). Granny Smith apple terrine, cinnamon mousse, and apple sherbet sorbet. This was diabolical, The cinnamon mousse was pleasant, but not too assertive. The terrine was merely very thin-sliced Granny Smith apple, stacked in a small rectangular mould, drizzled with a little very light syrup, pressed, and chilled. And the apple sherbet sorbet was AMAZING! Green, green apples, pulped and pressed, with sugar and acetic acid. It was mouth-puckeringly sour, yet sweet (like an apple Warhead) and it was just beautiful. More than beautiful. It was a symphony, an image of an apply paradise. And the P-B gave it a full 4.25 Possum Tails out of a possible 5!
So. Stillwater is great. I seriously suggest a visit. And if they up their game just a bit, they MIGHT attain the coveted double award of 5 Bandicoot Snouts and 5 Possum Tails!
Stillwater is at; Ritchie’s Mill on West Tamar Rd, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia 7250