Latris, a restaurant on the marina, St Helens, Tasmania

Ocean Trout

It has taken me a long time to get to Latris and it was at the invitation of friends that I finally made it for lunch. The restaurant’s position at the St Helens marina is perfect for boat watching in sunny weather and guess what, it was all grey skies and turgid sea on the day. We took a table at the window whilst the proprietor was finishing an endless task of cleaning the full length windows whilst balancing on a narrow ledge over the water, one slip and he was in for a spontaneous swim. We just had a quote for cleaning all the full length windows at our house inside and outside so obviously he was saving his couple of hundred dollars.

Classic flathead and chips

I decided I would write something about Latris as the last post I did on the nearby Margot restaurant received quite a few hits from people searching the net for much needed information on restaurants in the St Helens area.  The search engines threw up my blog’s mention of Margot, possibly because hardly anyone comes to St Helens and writes about the restaurants.

My order of bouillabaisse came in a light and thin cream sauce. Garnished on the top with only one small slice from a French Baguette and there was a dab of rouille (rouille is rust in French). This saffron garlicky sauce is usually a real flavour booster but there just was not enough of it. The dish included some pippis, that I love, and perfectly cooked trout and white fish fillets but certainly not nearly enough variety. A vital missing ingredient was parsley, this much-lauded dish from the Mediterranean should not leave the kitchen’s ‘pass’ without this classic herb.

Bouillabaise

All the other dishes our table ordered, were deemed a success special mention for the trout dish.  Don’t get me wrong, my main was enjoyable just missing a real depth of flavour. We chose the Derwent 08 Riesling – crisp, not overly fruity, it worked for our respective fried and creamy fish dishes.

They have an odd rule at lunchtime, Latris will not serve tap water, you have to buy water and since my other half does not drink alcohol, he was locked into ordering it. So a bottle of Ninth Island rainwater at $9.00 was suggested by the staff if we wanted water, an imperative really. We drink nothing but rainwater at Binalong Bay since we do not have ‘town water’ so for us the fancy bottle and label did not resonate, it hit the nerve in the hip pocket. Well I am speaking for our friends who were treating us. They were far too polite to make an issue of it as I am doing here.

Expensive rainwater

Creme Brulee

My dessert was on point, a crème brûlée with just the right texture and the almond bread wafers on the side were perfect for scooping out the leftovers.  The only improvement I would make is in the presentation, a little side plate on a black paper napkin is the kind if presentation my elderly aunt would serve.

Latris interior

This is a restaurant I will return to – lets hope they don’t take offence about the next remark. As long as I can look at the view and not the mundane and somewhat cold interior. The design –  what is wrong with it? I would throw out the commercial office plants and dress the tabletops with sheets of old-fashioned butchers paper, the kind you get with takeaway fish and chips. Any more ideas and they would have to pay me for it. Roz

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  1. #1 by Sue English on February 4, 2010 - 6:32 am

    Richard and I went to this resteraunt when staying at a B&B in St Helen’s and had a great meal.I agree the decor and presentation could have been more up-to-date. Now that we are leaving Western Qld, the dust and flies, and moving to just South of Toowoomba we will be heading back to Tasmania and lots of other interesting places.
    I will be able to utilise my Good Food membership also.
    Best wishes,
    Sue English

    • #2 by tastetravel on February 4, 2010 - 10:27 am

      Where did you stay in St Helens? Good to have your feedback Sue as no doubt the restaurant will read this and focus on the negative, hopefully they see it as an opportunity for improvement. May see you at a Slow Food event or even in Tasmania. Roz

  2. #3 by Eric on February 8, 2010 - 7:53 am

    Nice to see another restaurant review in your area! I agree with your previous reply to my comment about Margot that food reviews in Northeast Tasmania (St Helens area) are seriously lacking, although to its credit, the Mercury have published a few reviews (not necessariy at the same time or the same year). I’m surprised that this place refuses to serve tap water, insisting that customers purchase the ‘gourmet’ bottle of Tasmanian rainwater to drink.

    • #4 by tastetravel on February 9, 2010 - 7:37 am

      Sadly Eric Margot will be closing at end of this month but possibly moving to Hobart once they sell up and that will be your gain. And serious competition for existing top end restaurants there. Writing about Silver Sands soon. Keep tuned Roz

      • #5 by Eric on February 12, 2010 - 12:29 am

        That’s unfortunate in a way about Margot’s closing and possible move to Hobart, because its location in St Helens is perhaps more special than it would have been in Hobart. There’s a new French restaurant opening up soon – Remi de Provence where the old Bamboo Chinese restaurant used to be.

  3. #6 by mike and fran on April 8, 2010 - 7:43 am

    We were lured to this restaurant by reviews and locality as we were staying in St Helens. The interior seriously needs a rethink, especially for evening service. We ordered classic dry martinis to sip whilst perusing the menu, and were served some concoction with vodka, huge chunks of tubular ice and scent of anise, and upon querying these with the young female waitstaff, were promptly given a very curt lecture on martinis and treated like we were pretty ignorant and advised that a martini with chunks of ice and vodka IS a ‘classic dry martini’. One of our entree’s , the squid was tough and very salty, the garlic garnish on the oysters was burnt and bitter and our pricey lobster dish was undercooked with far too little sauce and once again no parsley! the saving grace of the meal was the steak dish we ordered, which was fine. We were seated quite away from the kitchen but were subjected to a backdrop of one of the kitchen staff belching so loudly that everyone in the restaurant was alarmed and taken aback. To capitolise on the experience, 30 minutes post our return to our accommodation, all attendees at our table were seriously ill for the ensuing 9 hours with a serious gastro intestinal affliction. We can only deduce by the total we paid for our meal that we must have been served the expensive poison. We are pleased to hear that others have had a lovely experience of this restaurant but our little band of travellers found it unatmospheric, a component of the staff well below par and will have to think twice before risking a return visit – a real shame as it reviews quite well.

    • #7 by tastetravel on April 8, 2010 - 8:11 am

      The people who own this restaurant should be aware of your unsatisfactory evening and ensuing disastrous effects. I hope you let them know about the illness you all suffered, I would have considered cancelling the credit card used if that is what how you paid the bill. All the comments you made sounded valid to me as you describe exactly what was wrong with the food and service. I will see if I can make them aware of your comments as they need to know and learn that they are behind the 8 ball seriously. Roz

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