Sunday, May 16, 2010

Remi's Cave a Manger - Oh Lord Please Don't Let Me be Misunderstood

I was wondering last week whether Hobartians were really understanding what the new Remi de Provence at 252 Macquarie Street is actually all about. I said so to Mary. In fact I didn't get it myself at first. Hobart's most experienced food writers, Roger McShane and Sue Dyson tried to explain it to me. But it wasn't until I was chatting in the foyer of Remi's on Saturday evening with nationally acclaimed food legend Fiona Hoskin, formerly of Launceston's Fee and Me, that I realised that if you move too quickly up the stairs to the dining room you risk missing altogether what this sensational cave a manger has brought on to our doorstep.

What Remi's is not about is fine dining. Remi is adamant that his food is everyday food. Food so priced you can afford to drop in a couple of times a week on your way home from work for a plat du jour and a glass of wine. But you don't have to go up the stairs to the dining room at all if you don't want to. You can opt for a wine and some excellent cheese or a plate of pate, terrine and rillette with cornichons and warm bread in the elegant lounge at the other end of the wine cellar.

The charcuterie is classic French and a bottle of wine from what is Hobart's best selection of French and top end Australian wine can be very affordable when bought at what is a bottle shop price to which is added a surprisingly modest corkage.

But if you don't fancy settling in for food and drink when you have to drive home then you can pick up some olive oil and vinegar, maybe some honey and magnificent French cheese, grab a bottle of wine from the cellar and head home.

Remi's selection of French cheese is evocative and second to none in Hobart and Remi's great knowledge is personally available to help you take home what will really be to your taste.

By all means do go up the stairs to the dining room. Some people just keep coming back, treating it as an extension of their own kitchen. Is the food good - well, Mary and her favourite foodie friend Julie have not as yet stopped raving about the Squid Martegale followed by a pear poached in sauterne and served with Roquefort ice cream and my colleague Greg Melick, who has eaten all over the world and has Hobart's finest private wine cellar of over 7000 bottles, is definitely going back for more of the slow cooked lamb forequarter which he found a perfect accompaniment to the wine he had chosen to show. At main course prices from around $24 going back is very easily affordable.

The dining room itself is very elegant with one wall dominated by a massive Tom Samek mural. French food experts and commentators Roger McShane and Sue Dyson recently posted the picture shown below on Twitter, commenting that it was another fine rump steak from Remi. And it needs to be remembered that if the plates du jours are not what you fancy on the night, Remi is the only restaurateur in Hobart stocking grass fed beef from Cape Grim which he continues to dry age in his coolroom. You can also take these steaks home to cook yourself, as can you any of the complete range of cuts of Wild Clover Lamb from North Motton in Tasmania's North West.

You can also take home, at prices from about $16.50, any of Remi's other dishes, for example the Squid Daube and the Cassoulet pictured below.

In fact you can ask Remi for potato gratin and green beans to take home as well. Perfect on a winter's night. All these dishes are vacuum packed and can be re-heated in minutes in a pan of simmering water.

But, I think whatever you do you need to keep in mind the multifaceted convenience of this cave a manger. It is open 6 days a week from 10.00am until 9.00pm and offers us options not available anywhere else in Hobart. The very nature of the place is to be celebrated as Jay and Emma from Hobart's best cafe, Pigeon Hole, said to me last Friday. And it is wonderfully warm I must add.

As you can see from the signboard, Remi's is a Bistro and Grill, Wine Bar and Fine Wine Centre. But the sign board also says "Fine Wine - Good Food". Not fine food, but good food. It is good, very good, but Remi is the first to say and does say that his providor, wine cellar and dining room is not about fine dining. If you want fine dining then I would recommend Piccalilly which I regard as the best restaurant ever to grace Hobart.

I actually asked Iain Todd the chef/owner of Piccalilly, privately, what he thought of Remi's. His answer, given to me as a public response on Twitter - "We think Remi's is good. Simple food, cooked well and then presented in a rustic way. Love the wine and the concept"

And of course there's the Calvados.


  1. Thanks. Looks like I can give Calstock a miss now. Last time I saw Remi was in the bar at Banc, 13 Sept 2001 - Ansett died that day. He shouted me an Armagnac after a memorable meal with Liam Tomlin, and talked of his times at Jacques Reymond's.

  2. Sorry Stephen, Remi is not the only restaurant stocking Cape Grim beef dry aged. There are several. I do agree with the comments about Remi's and I wish him every success.

  3. Thanks Anon. What I said was 'Remi is the only restaurateur in Hobart stocking grass fed beef from Cape Grim which he continues to dry age in his coolroom" If that is not correct, i.e if anyone else continues to age in socks in a coolroom as opposed to holding cryovac cuts for immediate use I would like to know where.

  4. Very well written, we could not have put it better! A great place and an asset for Hobart.

  5. How nice to read a clear view of what Remi's about - very worth venturing out on a chilly evening.
    PS a small stylist quibble, the large orange font for the first para of each post is a bit like shouting at someone with a migraine. Only my opinion, but if this is a default of the template and not personal choice, you could edit it in the template proforma itself.....

  6. Since penning this post Jonathon Lethlean reviewed Remi's in the Weekend Australian Magazine and gave it 3/5 summarising it as good solid bistro food, well worth supporting and with a place in Hobart. Read his assessment at

  7. Stephen, what a great review. Today, Becky and I accepted counsel's advice and took 2-week-old James for lunch. The lamb, bouillabaise, wines and a particularly good cheddar were all terrific. We're very eager to return.


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