This is no ordinary hotel restaurant.
Despite P&J’s links to the jewel in Tasmanian tourism’s crown, Saffire (again, same major owner) – there’s no showing off. Head Chef Jeff Workman seems to have been pinched from the exclusive resort, but he’s introduced fare to P&J that’s approachable and affordable.
The kitchen takes centre stage: almost as if us diners are lucky to have nabbed a front row seat to the show. A young gang of chefs works quickly and in no time we’re presented with Snacks: baby prawns fried in corn flour, salt ling fritters and something from the Small section: beef tartare.
The prawns leave every other bar snack I’ve tasted paddling furiously behind – salty, a fine crunch, easy and with a touch of sweetness. The fritters (gluten free –bonus!) are immaculately seasoned and complimented beautifully by bitter raddicho. Smothered on the sweet, chunky tartare is bright yellow organic chicken yolk, mustard but way too much pepperberry.
For a quick lunch, this spread would be adequate, but we’re about to move on to bigger, better things. Just enough distance is allowed between helpings. This means I have enough time to get a generous top up of a $48 bottle of crisp Albarino, hear the shrieks of a young gorgeous thing beside me opening a birthday present and hike across the IXL Atrium to the bathroom.
After my return past 5 businessmen scoffing sourdough smeared with house-made charcoal butter and a mature couple navigating the wine list, we’re presented with Meat For 2: lamb shoulder sprinkled with nutmeg, oil and surrounded by pumpkin, pepitas and bathing in its own juices. The serving is generous and so is the experience: fatty, sweet, tender, crisp, spicy, perfect. A side of baby spuds draped in melting lardo and refreshing radish salad compliments of the chef, means the brownie points are stacking up.
Rounding out the whole heavenly affair are two angelic desserts: tres leche and silky Peach Melba. We kept it brief with one bottle of Spanish vino, but P&J has poured a lot into ensuring there’s plenty of boozy makes and models to choose from.
The food verges on gastro pub, the setting clean and intimate, the wait staff eager to please, the manager intuitive and charming. P&J may be another kid on the increasingly crowded Hobart restaurant block, but with so many starving mouths and educated palates plus a killer, constantly changing little menu, they’re going to be prancing about in no time.