Heston Blumenthal is known for many things, amongst them: kitchen science, Michelin stars and multi-sensory cooking.
He’s making tsunami sized waves with his six month Fat Duck stint opening at the Crown in Melbourne early in 2015 and he’s got the back of Tourism Australia. Few of us mere mortals will ever get to try one of his art meets science culinary creations but most of us can try something on the Heston spectrum with Dutch chef Ruben Koopman of Frogmore Creek Winery.
The Two Girls and The Only Child found ourselves there for our Christmas get-together.
It’s been over 12 months since This Girl last ate at Frogmore and that was reluctantly. It was the Lovely Deputy’s birthday choice. I was still miffed about the roast beetroot and goats cheese tart on pre-made pastry I’d eaten there a year or so earlier when it was still Meadowbank, but in a slump. I didn’t want to go back.
But I was so pleased when the birthday lunch turned out SO well and I was excited to return and see what was new.
Frogmore Creek is a beautiful vineyard. The roaring wedding trade they do is testament to the establishment and its location. It is just as perfect a weekend lunch venue as any we can think of with huge ceilings and glass frontage overlooking the vineyard and Coal River.
The design encourages you to dwell and relax, with the vistas to consume and the cool air circulating through the building to refresh you.
Even as foodie loving bloggers we can be hard to wrangle around a menu. The service was attentive and patient however and we ordered the Mardi, a lovely dry sparking, named after the previous owner’s daughter, and a glass of the Frogmore pinot noir for The Other Girl.
Amuse-bouche bubbles arrived of lemon curd, salmon and potato, and white chocolate, goats curd and pistachio.
We found the menu overflowing with choice and negotiated selections so we could all try different things. This is what we ate:
Noughts and Crosses - soft poached chicken, bacon dust, beetroot crostini, Meredith feta, Thai green curry foam and mango.
Land and Sea – Slow cooked pork belly, cracker of the skin, tiger prawns, purple congo, persimmon puree, beetroot, apple elastic.
Snap, crackle and pop – Skin roasted fillet of snapper, olive grapes and pine nut salsa, pickled cucumber, yuzu extract and Sichuan pepper, poppin’ candy.
Maryland Majestic – Lightly smoked and thinly sliced duck breast and croquettes of the leg, crumble of the skin, chestnuts, red cabbage.
Belbin Lamb – Loin and shoulder of Belbin lamb, Brussels sprouts, carrot, smoked eggplant fudge, potato cubes and cumin glaze.
The Only Child was overwhelmed and later told Chef Koopman that the meals weren’t worth the $25 charged.
** Awkward silence **
Ohhh…what she meant was that the meals were worth MORE than $25 each.
The meals are magnificent value. All plates are served between entrée and main meal size and are all priced at $25. They are technically proficient and exquisite meals, to savour and to view.
Amuse-bouche also arrived for dessert, initially with a spoonful of whisky foam; followed by a row of sorbets in miniature cones and then a trio of treats.
Dining at Frogmore is a sensory overload.There were so many beautiful plates passing us by en route to other diners, we wanted to know about each of them. Our oohing and aahing at the degustation courses served to the next table must have been heard from the kitchen because the Chef sent us a serve of the deconstructed Christmas pudding to share.
So let’s just recap here. At a stretch (including the foam), we’d eaten three desserts by this stage. Then our ordered desserts arrived. They were equally gorgeous and already superseded on the menu, our memories couldn’t do a description justice. The photos hopefully will however. Desserts are $17 each.
Chef Koopman has brought his European sensibilities to Tassie and he might just be trying to colonise us. He’s not enamoured with what’s going on in Hobart’s food scene, but then again, he doesn’t get out much. And it might just be true that he doesn’t quite understand Australian cuisine yet.
He has all the commercial kitchen gadgets; there are foams and powders and he does Monday night kitchen labs where cooks experiment with three products and produce a new meal. He has a great sense of how to compliment and build flavours that take a meal to the sublime and he’s sharing his skills and creativity in the local industry.
Chef Koopman moved to Australia because of love and to Tasmania around three years ago. He started off at the Westend Pumphouse and has been at Frogmore Creek now for around nine months. His resume includes the kitchens of a number of Michelin star restaurants in Europe.
His work is all about presentation and it's primped and tarted up food, plated up within an inch of its life. It reminds me of Julia Childs when she said something like, ‘Just remember, somebody’s hands have been all over that meal.’ Some may find it pretentious. It’s not relaxed every day eating. What it is though, is a serious contribution to the Tasmanian food scene, a very special present, delivered to you with wrappings and ribbons and bows, a stand out, worth a standing ovation.
Chef Koopman is all about the ideas, on the plate and the whole eating experience. He put his brains behind The Deck.
The cellar door has extended outside where you can lounge or perch on bar stools and choose from an impressive list of 15 or more casual plates for $15 each ($14 for desserts) or ‘let it roll’ for $50 and enjoy what is chosen for you.
They have plans for a new venture on Castray Esplanade, the working title is Atmosphere by Frogmore, and it is slated as opening in April 2015.
Frogmore Creek is a destination venue and it is definitely worth the visit for one of the most impressive meals you will find in Tasmania.
You go to Frogmore expecting a delicious lunch - but you’ll be taken on a little bit of an Alice in Wonderland adventure - where you can’t imagine anything getting tastier or prettier - but each delightful course put before you is even more magical.
You can find Frogmore Creek at 699 Richmond Road Cambridge. Call them on 6274 5844.