The Two Girls first visited Charcoal when it was
just two days old. We went back on their first year anniversary to see if the
food was still good and to try the tapas, which we neglected on our first visit.
We found that they were only a month away from a new look, Tasmanian focused
menu. So we ate more pizza and made another reservation.
Now known as ‘The Bloggers’ we were warmly welcomed
back with an unexpected treat.
We were met by Charcoal Chef, Scott, who is
passionate about his ingredients and about sourcing as much Tasmanian produce
as possible. It’s evidenced in the menu, which we’re told will change quarterly
to reflect seasonal availability and taste. He’s off to a good start and he has
some decent experience behind him. He apprenticed at the Ritz Carlton in
Sydney, has worked around the country, including the Sofitel in Melbourne, and
had a stint in Tokyo.
Charcoal is part of the RACV accommodation chain,
but they’re pitching themselves with the big boys. Their menu is still pizza
and tapas, but its local produce focus has a quirky twist.
Scott was keen for us to sample the best of his
tapas and gifted us an amazing spread. He need not have worried. He had us with
the vegetarian pizza; ‘Goats cheese, pickled walnut, roast pumpkin and Baharat spice.’
We ate WAY too much and this is what it was:
Bruny Island Oysters: one natural and one
Rockefeller, $3.80 each. By what we ate, This Girl means that the Other Girl ate
them because oysters aren’t my thing. She says the Rockefeller rocked though.
Wood fired spelt sour dough loaf with Ashbolt oil
and local cultured butter, $6.50.
The butter is produced every three weeks by Edgar
Farm and when Charcoal can’t source it, they make their own. We were
impressed. It’s part of the detail that will set Charcoal apart.
The bread is from Oatland’s Companion Bakery with
the local spelt flour. The bread was really good. It had the appearance of the
tough crusted loaves that are in fashion right now but it was a delicious, with an easy to devour crust and a robust but light bread inside.
Blue Swimmer Crab Mayonnaise with crisp toasts, $12.
We both agreed it was a good choice.
Lamb, Flinders Island salt grass lamb cutlet, local picked cabbage, with sauce Romesco, $10.50. It was an excellent plumb piece of meat, beautifully cooked and a winner.
Sardines in a smoky tomato sauce, Ashbolt virgin
oil and croutons, $11.50. I’m not sure if the Other Girl actually got any of
these, but I enjoyed them immensely. Sardines are a standard deserving of an authentic tapas menu, and the canned sardine aesthetic was cute and quirky.
Pork Belly with cider braised free range Berkshire
pork belly, $9. Again, The Two Girls aren't big on the belly, but we’re happy
they’re serving pigs that have lived a happy life and unlike lots of pork belly
dishes, this was fresh and light.
In the name of blogging, we faced the pizza head on. It was a
hearty vegetarian option. The pickled walnuts and Baharat spice clenched the
And to round off the meal, we shared the Frangipani Tart with local pear, $14, and the Leatherwood Honey Panna Cotta topped with
Persian fairy floss, $14. Most people either love the Leatherwood or hate it.
We say don’t judge it until you’ve tried it with the fairy floss which cut
through the strong, almost savoury, Leatherwood flavour.
We drank Delamere Blanc de Blanc 2008, which is a light
Blanc to Blanc, not overly bready.
We were pleased with the tapas selection, and not
just because it was on the house ;-)
A year ago, we looked despairingly at
the tapas menu, not finding anything that really took our fancy. 'Wanky', was the
word the Other Girl used I believe. But Scott’s tapas has something for
everyone. There are plenty of vegetarian and gluten free options and it
deserves a tip of the hat for putting itself out there.
It would be easy not to notice Charcoal, or at least not to take it seriously, but that would be a mistake. It is solid inner-city contender, open for lunch and dinner. It might just become The Two Girls’ new place
for lunch. We recommend you try. It’s punching above its weight. See the menu below.
Labels: Restaurant Reviews