Hobart used to remind me of a sleepy country town when it came to dining. However, while the city still retains its genuine charm and warmth, it has evolved to entice visitors to visit and experience a culinary revolution thanks to the talented chefs and entrepreneurs that have made Hobart their home and brought their knowledge and expertise from places far and wide.
Culinary curator Ben Milbourne and chef Ishan Acharya at Peacock and Jones in Hobart have created a culinary experience that embraces the friendliness of a meal with (very sophisticated) good friends. Using the philosophy of paddock to plate but adding more pizzazz and style, the restaurant creates a night out that highlights the city of Hobart and the local produce from the surrounding area.
Arriving at the door of Peacock and Jones at The Henry Jones Art Hotel feels like you’re embracing history. The building itself is part of the original IXL Jam Factory and a beacon of urban renewal thanks to some talented architects who created the hotel. Peacock and Jones is a mix of modern chic meets rustic heritage with parts of the original jam factory hanging from the ceiling and emerging from the walls.
With the formalities of our reservation sorted, we are escorted to our table and immediately offered water and a wine list for our perusal. Our waitress Gemma is quick to return with menus and recommendations. She is not only well versed in the menu but also great at recommending wine matches and personalising the choices to our tastes. It’s immediately obvious this restaurant takes the time to train staff well and service throughout the night is one of many highlights.
We select the Chef’s Tasting Menu to get the full experience of the Peacock and Jones menu and leave our dining experience in the capable hands of the chef. The tasting menu at Peacock and Jones is a selection of six dishes with a wine matching option is available at an extra cost. We stick with our waitress’s excellent wine suggestions so as not to overindulge which could be easily done here.
The first dish off the mark is dry aged Hiramasa Kingfish with a buttermilk mousse and nasturtium garnish. This dish sets the mark to kick-start the evening and is perfectly matched to a glass of 2019 ‘Charlotte’s Elusion’ Riesling from the Derwent Valley. As a side note, my wife (and dining partner) and I have a tradition when visiting Tasmania that we only drinking Tassie wine. This has made for some truly amazing finds and memorable experiences – give it a try the next time you visit.
The second dish, charcoal calamari, is delivered with a smile and simple but flavoursome with tender calamari that has been wood smoked to give it an extra depth of flavour. Our waitress Gemma takes us through the creation process of the dish and even the wood type used for smoking. It’s interesting and just enough information but not too much – perfect.
The thing about Peacock and Jones is it’s not only about the paddock to plate concept but also cutting down the number of food miles. Most of the produce is supplied by local farms from Hobart or just beyond. Whether it is the duck showcased in the confit duck or the pretty locally grown garden nasturtiums used as a garnish, everything has a local connection and tastes amazing.
Our third dish is Scottsdale pork jowl, a cut that is traditionally discarded but used creatively here with shiitake mushrooms and carrot jus that produces a uniquely original dish full of flavour. Before our fourth dish of duck, we ask for a red wine recommendation and have a choice of a 2017 Riversdale Estate Syrah from Cambridge or a 2017 Bream Creek Pinot Noir. Both are excellent so we decide to each choose a different wine and share a generous taste.
The fourth dish of free-range duck is cooked confit and then pan-seared to produce a succulent tender meat that is perfectly matched with sweet potato, radicchio and jus. Servings are generous so we ask Gemma for a small break and sip our wine while taking in the dining area and atrium of the IXL building where pieces of rusting machinery and modern touches like the floating fireplace blend seamlessly with the rest of the building.
We give Gemma ‘the nod’ that we are ready for our penultimate dish of Lyndall Farm lamb, roasted and served with fermented black barley complemented with Leap Farm goat’s curd. In the image below, there are two medallions of lamb but the chef’s menu sensibly only includes one. And yes, it’s amazing also and goes perfectly with the last drops of my wife’s red (in a gesture of true love, she shared).
Dessert arrives not long afterwards and the dark chocolate delice is my standout dish of the night. Being a chocoholic, this dessert has me just from the plating which reveals an extravagance of dark chocolate accompanied with a hazelnut and a cream fraiche sorbet that has me swooning. The sugar rush will probably keep me awake for a while tonight but it’s worth every mouthful.
Before we walk across the street to our room at MAQq 01, we thank our waitress Gemma for an amazing evening and her excellent service and agree that our first visit to Peacock and Jones won’t be our last. An innovative menu for both food and wine, accomplished staff on the floor, and a kitchen that creates dishes that go beyond the norm, makes Peacock and Jones a must-visit restaurant in Hobart.
Disclosure: The writer dined as a guest of Peacock and Jones. Beverages were paid for and worth seeking out if you enjoy good wine.
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