Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ut Si Cafe Perth Tasmania

If you've got the dough, they've got the bread. In fact, arguably the best bread in Northern Tasmania according to Food Tourist's Roger McShane and Sue Dyson on Twitter yesterday. Colette Barnes, her mysterious husband - the Prof - and the Chef, run a new cafe to die for. In fact previously you did as the cafe was a church !

Last Saturday on our way to eat with Remi Bancal at Glencoe Rural Retreat at Sheffield in Tasmania Mary and I called in to see Colette Barnes at her wonderful new cafe in the old coaching town of Perth on the Midlands Highway south of Launceston.

It is a magical place, beautifully created inside an old church. The French grey beams overarch crisp white walls adorned with Leunig like paintings by talented Launceston schoolgirl artist Alice Brickhill. The soft pastels of these whimsical paintings contrast with the darker tables and church pew inspired bench seating crafted out of Tasmanian timbers.

Outside this quaint old church is complemented by an inspired garden and a very traveller friendly car park. From the shady car park you can see (and smell) the kitchen garden with parsley and rhubarb just waiting to go into the dishes being prepared inside.

Colette's aim is simple food prepared from fresh produce and this she achieves in spades. Mary and I had bruschetta made with Ut Si's own bread and topped with curried chickpeas and black olive tapenade. Washed down with as good a coffee as you will find anywhere on the highway this was exactly what we needed to sustain us until we could take in more French cuisine at Glencoe (and that is another story altogether!).

French you say? Yes I forgot to mention that Colette's mother Marie and her father Barry themselves ran a wonderful French restaurant in Perth 30 years ago - the Leather Bottle Inn. That was a favourite haunt of mine and Mary's back in the days when Northern Tasmania ruled the cuisine of the State. Casey's, Gossips, Ruby's, Glo Glo's and St Andrews Inn were all wonderful restaurants in the area.

Colette's mother and father lend a hand at the cafe.
Marie helps out with the dough that is responsible for Ut Si's magnificent white and rye bread loaves cooked daily and Barry lights the fire in the cafe's piece de resistance - the wood fired bakers oven built directly out the back door from the kitchen.

You can sample Ut Si's bread with a charcuterie plate of Tasmanian's best - hot smoked salmon and local venison pastrami and wallaby salami or you can dip it in Annie Ashbolt's wonderful olive oil.

In fact if you are early enough you can buy a loaf or two and eat it at home as we did, with Ossau Iraty sheep's cheese from the Pyrenees, washed down with a Cornas shiraz from the Cote du Rhone.

We don't know what Colette and the Prof and the new chef (ex Stillwater in Launceston) are planning for the artisan built wood oven but I wouldn't mind betting that wood fire pizzas as good as the Barnes' bread are going to be on the menu. If they are folks, don't miss 'em - they will be good.

Hospitality will never move forward in Tasmania unless more people like Colette, with a lust for excellence, put themselves out there. And we have no right to complain unless we support them!