Whilst I am a modernist at heart there is something about the historic building that houses The Islington Hotel that makes me hanker – just a little, for a stone period house, preferably Georgian in Tasmania where they are abundant. I do have an old house, my other house in Queensland is a traditional wood house on stilts. I don’t want to live totally in the past though specially with all its inconveniences so we have modernized the bathrooms and kitchen and kept all the important original features, they have creatively and sensitively done the same here at The Islington.
So if you don’t have a grand house to live in, and you want some timeless elegance mixed with some contemporary facilities, you can check into a place like The Islington. This post is about a meal we had there recently.
We were a party of four and the Manager on duty, Sarah deemed we would be comfortable in the Library. Sarah set up the long table and we felt like we had booked for a very special occasion. We began our evening in one of the drawing rooms with a glass of champagne admiring a painting by Bill Yaxley an artist who has lived in both Queensland and Tasmania. He also has a winery in Tasmania Yaxley Estate that is certified organic. The sculpture is by Bill Yaxley. Other wonderful art, antiques and personal memorabilia collected over time by the owners make this an original hotel.
Menus are created each day and there is a marked emphasis on as much Tasmanian produce as possible. We began with some Bruny Island oysters, freshly shucked as they should be. My lamb rack from Longford above was perfectly cooked. I am a big fan of native pepperberries and here they were used in the jus. Another dish of the night was the pan seared local hapuka with white been puree and Filet mignon wrapped in pancetta. Since we were four and there were about four choices in each category without any prior calculations we managed to order almost all the menu.
The local asparagus and green bean risotto with its central highland goats cheese was considered a major success. And we all know risottos are risky. The spring pea and mint soup along with the scallop, prawn and white fish chowder was another entrée for our table. We also ordered the plum, pear and yoghurt cheese salad as an entrée.
We were satiated but tempted by the pannacotta of Canadian maple syrup, perfect texture, flavour and wobbly consistency. The small square dish has an apple sorbet from Lucaston Park , a juice I seek out often but I queried the logic of this combination before ordering. After eating the sorbet (on its own tasted good) it still made no sense to me as an icy accompaniment. My instinct was right and it really needed a something more like a tart fruit, a poached plum which I know they have growing in the garden. My only criticism.
The sourdough bread they served was from the bakery Summer Kitchen is the best in Hobart – in my opinion.
After the meal we went into the kitchen to talk to the chef. It was an outstanding dinner, all created in a smallish open kitchen with standard domestic equipment. Limitations aside, it all worked in the hands of a professional and passionate chef who sources the best ingredients. If you were staying at the hotel you would be crazy to bypass a meal here.
Photos for this post were taken by iPhone and not up to my usual standard, so sorry about that. Hopefully you will look at the Islington website to see what a truly beautiful and charming place this is.