It’s hard choosing a restaurant when you’re out of town, especially when the trip is a short one and you only get to dine out once or twice. What if the place isn’t that good and you don’t get the chance try anything else? (I actually had this happen to me when I was in Brisbane for work last year, sadly).
With only two nights in Hobart, and budgetary room for only one fine dining experience, I knew the choice would be tough. Despite being a small town, there appeared to be quite a few decent food options. I settled on Smolt after it was recommended to me.
The jamon and manchego croquettes had a crunchy exterior and creamy, cheesy centre. They were supported by sweet, smoky peppers which made the classic croquette-and-mayo combination a bit more interesting.
Vegetable salad ($19.50)
This vibrant, attractive salad consisted of grilled asparagus, roasted beetroot, artichoke and jerusalem artichoke. Goats curd and pumpkin puree served as a sort of ‘dressing’ and some crunch was present in the form of toasted hazelnuts and wafer-thin croutons.
Braised octopus ($19.90)
The dish was resplendent with fresh herbs which provided a nice visual contrast to the red tentacles. The broth was quite lemony; the tomato, as listed on the menu, was not apparent. Maybe there had been a change due to seasonal availability? Either way, we enjoyed the broth, mopping up the last of it with the accompanying bread. Unfortunately the octopus itself was not so good, as it was quite rubbery and chewy.
Mains and pasta
Confit duck leg ($35.90)
Oh, the duck. I apologise for my regular ranting and raving about duck, but it is just such a fantastic meat, especially when subjected to the confit process. The unctuous layer of fat below the skin had rendered away perfectly leaving behind soft, tender meat and perfectly crispy skin. The garlicky celeriac puree and lightly dressed cress were enough as far as vegetables were concerned, leaving the duck the star of the show. My only complaint was that the duck was rather salty, which was probably how that crispy skin was achieved. Perhaps a few more of the macerated cranberries would have helped overcome this.
Pan-fried gnocchi ($28.90)
Pillow-soft bites of house-made gnocchi were pan-fried and dished up with the usual suspects: roast pumpkin, walnuts and burnt butter. A winning execution of a classic dish.
Roasted local pears ($15.90)
The Persian love cake component of this dish piqued our interest as it wasn’t something we’d heard of before. It was a dense, sticky cake, fragrant with spices. It went well with the pistachios, aromatic orange blossom parfait and and tender slivers of roasted pear.
Selection of ice creams ($13.90)
My selection of house made ice creams and sorbet included three flavours: lime, chocolate, and honey-like one which also seemed to have a hint of macadamia (although there were no discernible macadamia pieces in it). The lime was punchy and refreshing, probably my favourite of the three.
Smolt could do with a few tweaks here and there. The change of ingredients with the octopus wasn’t something that bothered us – we aren’t fussy eaters – but it’s something that they probably should have mentioned, out of consideration. For all they know, we may not be fans of lemon, and could have wanted the opportunity to select an alternative dish.
Apart from these minor complaints, it was generally pretty good. I’d recommend Smolt to other Hobart visitors.Smolt 2 Salamanca Square Hobart, TAS