Our family recently spent two weeks touring Tasmania in a motorhome. This was a brilliant way to have an adventure as we were able to see most of the main attractions in Tasmania. It was, in fact, the Christmas present for the children who each opened a present on Christmas day that included a travel journal and plane tickets.
Naturally, when we arrived in Hobart one day at lunchtime, we just HAD to go to the oldest pub in Australia. Established in 1807 the Hope and Anchor Tavern has had an interesting history. It was renovated in 2004 to reflect its past, and includes a huge range of historical implements such as farming equipment, old paintings, and gorgeous flocking wallpaper. The décor was perfectly appropriate for the history of the pub, even with the deer head mounted over a real fireplace that was completed by a set of ancient bellows.
Beer: We had the Captain Bligh’s beer, which was an excellent example of an IPA. It was malty with a solid hop-flower aftertaste. Almost floral in its aroma.
Starter: We ordered a half dozen of natural oysters for a starter. They were displayed simply on salt with a slice of lemon and these oysters needed no other embellishment. They were so fresh, right off the Hobart docks presumably, the perfect oyster, just how you imagine they ought to taste. In fact, the whole of Tasmania is oyster heaven. We continually drove past oyster farms advertising them for $9/dozen, which just seems like a steal when compared to Sydney prices. We declined to resist and just had them every day.
Meal: I ordered the open steak sandwich while Bismarck had the traditional parma. The kids meals included icecream, and the four kids had steak & chips, chicken & chips, calamari & chips and pasta. My ‘open’ steak sandwich was beautifully presented with a side of chips in one of those trendy tiny chip fryers. The bread was a Turkish style bread, and, in the only odd part of the meal, was presented with the top underneath the base, so the whole sandwich was piled up on two pieces of bread. If this is a new trend in food presentation, it’s awkward. Does one eat it with both breads together as an extended base? Or does one attempt to slide the lowest piece of bread out from the bottom to then place on top and create a more traditional sandwich; bread, filling, bread?
Regardless, the filling was brilliant. Crispy bacon, a perfectly fried egg with runny yolk, loads of salad, thin steak cooked just right. Onion jam held it together and a drizzle of mayo across the top meant that there was plenty of juicy sauces to soak into the bread.
Bismarck enjoyed the parma saying that the schnitzel was crumbed with good flavours, the sauce was made from real tomatoes and the cheese was plentiful and grilled to golden glory. The dish came with fries and plenty of salad and was well presented.
Service: The pub was unprepared to have deal with two big families on a Tuesday lunchtime. We had to seat ourselves, and I did wonder if the service was going to be forgetful and disorganised. However, they soon came to the party and were really helpful once we were settled. The staff quickly sorted us with drinks, and food orders were done just as we required them. At the end of the meal when the kid’s ice creams came, I said to the waiter that the kids could only have them if they were seated properly (winks). The kids immediately stopped slouching, sat up properly and the waiter smiled and withheld the ice cream for those few who were tardy.
In summary, it was a lovely lunch in a location that appealed to our interest in history. It would be a great place to spend a rainy winter afternoon, snuggled up by the fire with good beer and friendly company.