There has been several write-ups and reviews done on The Stackings at Peppermint Bay. It is the main dining room with a few tables, separated by a couple of flexible ceiling to floor screens from the “middle room” and pub sections of an otherwise large open space with a picturesque view of the bay.
Peppermint Bay is one of our favourite food destination in the south of Hobart. I have written a couple of posts previously on the pub section and its food. My partner and I have never tried The Stackings for three simple reasons.
1. The atmosphere in the pub section is fun, casual and relax. The Stackings at the back of the long open dining space looks lonely, quiet and soul-less (at least during the time we have always been there).
2. The food at the pub section offers ala carte menu from the board. The food is good and offers great value for money for such a venue, service and spectacular view, with a few choices of where to seat, including outdoor. So, it is hard for us to convince ourself that The Stackings can match the pub section.
3. The Stackings is expensive. At $70 for three course and $90 for five course (without drinks), it is certainly not for everyone. Especially in Tasmania. So to sit and eat in the dining room, separated from the rest (ie, the more popular pub section) is like eating in a “snobbish” elite space.
If there was no separate dining rooms that offers a world of different class (of food and price), I would have tried The Stackings a long time ago. But, having the same kitchen with the same chef and in the same open dining space is almost difficult for me to consider dining there. This was very different when Peppermint Bay was first opened in 2003 when there was an almost total blockout of the two dining sections, which made it more discrete dining in the more exclusive zoned area.
Taking my comfort zone and paranoia aside from the other diners in the pub section, I thought it was time for my partner and I to try The Stackings. We arrived ten minutes late for our Sunday 2 pm lunch booking. There was another table of two in the room. It was deceptively large in The Stackings because all the other tables were empty. It felt strange. The couple at the other table was on their last course of dessert. That means, my partner and I have the entire section all to ourself. It felt very lonely. Or, can be looked as very special to have the entire room to ourself.
We looked at the menu and decided for the three course. We both thought the description of the menu sounds a bit boring for $70.
Whole poached flathead, green sauce
Milk roasted rare breed pork, artichokes, mace, broad beans
Poached bar cod, nettles, crab sauce, warigal greens
Wild bolivian chocolate, rose, roasted cherries
For a moment, we thought maybe we have made a wrong choice and should have gone to the pub section where there was more vibe and less clinical. I thought The Stackings lacks ambiance. There is nothing to draw my attention except the big oak tree outside, and the noise and people on the “other side” of the restaurant. But, soon my boredom of the restaurant turned into something very incredible. It was the food and the service. I soon understood that the main focus of this room is on David Moyle’s food and the presentation of the food which made up for the boredom and simplistic of the dining room. The description on the menu did no justice to the food itself. It is like a poorly taken photograph of an image which in real life looks so much better.
First, we had some crusty bread with a whipped cream pork fat spread sprinkled with crunchy granulated pork crackling and farm freshed raddish. I enjoy the bread spread which was creamy, salty and crunchy with an interesting pork flavour from the pork fat and cracking bits. Not sure this is good for people with high cholestoral. But, it sure was good and tasty, and accompanied well with the fresh crusty bread.
We have a good waiter who explained each of the dishes well. His service professional and non intrusive allowing us to enjoy our meal. He brought us our first course. It was supposed to be the poached flathead. Instead he brought us braised abalone, and told us that the Chef was not happy with how the poached flathead came out. Hence, the abalones with zucchini sprinkled with fennel pollens. A complimentary from the Chef.
The abalone was very thinly sliced and braised to perfection. They were tender, delicate and subtle in flavour with a light hint of fennel flavour. The thin slices of zucchini (I assume it must be the head with the jagged edge) was light in flavour as well. I guess it was added more for the colour and visual of the dish, then the taste. It was a very nice start to the three course meal. We felt extremely excited and waited in anticipation of the next course, poached flathead.
Love it, love it, love it! I had to say it three times. It was poached to perfection at 65 degrees. The centre bone was then removed, and the waiter told us to be careful as there may be smaller bones present. The presentation and visual effect of the greens on top with dried olives, petals of the garlic flower and smoked spring onion was a stand out. The greens was a combination of taragon and a few other herbs blended together and dressed with exquisite virgin olive oil. The fish was beautiful. It was perfect! It is good to know that the chef is a perfectionist and served only the best produce and the best dish walking out of his kitchen. What a fantastic experience of a wonderfully poached fish. If this was anything to go by, we knew we were in for a great time for the remaining of our dining experience at The Stackings.
Next, our two main courses. The milk roasted pork and poached bar cod. Before our waiter brought out the mains, he explained that the pork was cooked for eight hours, and it was the shoulder part of a “large black pig” sourced from Bruny Island. He warned us that some customers had complained it was rare and still pink even after an eight hour cooking time. And, that “some” part of the pork may be a bit tough. We didn’t mind the pork being a bit pink, but tough to eat is a different matter. He should have mentioned to us when we first placed the order.
Oh my gosh! The smell of the crab sauce on the cod dish was so lovely. We could both smell it when the waiter brought to our table. Once again, the colourful dish on a white plate was stunning. The bright orange crab sauce with the vibrant warigal greens on top of the fish and crab sauce was picture perfect. I admired this wonderfully presented and plated dish for a moment before dipping a fork on the fish. It was poached to perfection with my fork gently landed on the flesh and pierced through with a nice tender flake breaking off from the chunky fish. It was amazing. A true food delight with amazing colours and flavours. This was a dish to die for! The combination of the slightly salty nettle puree at the base of the poached cod worked well with the crab sauce and poached cod. It was a pure sensation of a delightful dish.
The milk roasted pork wasn’t too bad. It was not as pink as the waiter had told us. But, it was tough. Not a “small” part of the pork, but most of the pork which was a shame because the taste and flavour was exquisite. I guess I had expected the pork to be tender, juicy and succulent especially being roasted for eight hours at low heat.
Our overall impression and experience at The Stackings was more than what we had wished for. It was more than perfect and worth every dollar for the 3 course meal. Our total bill came to $192 with a bottle of Tasmanian’s Bream Creek Pinot Noir, and a cash tip of $20 for a fine service by the young waiter. We were both happy and walked away feeling satisfied with our first meal to a beginning of 2012.