By Franz Scheurer
Probably the most stunning structure in the Hunter, Robert's restaurant, part of the Tower Estate, is just beautiful. This building could be in Alsace or Switzerland and might have been built a few hundred years ago; lived in, seasoned and utterly delightful. Serious wooden beams are everywhere. They hold up the roof, surround the windows and, combined with the glorious wooden floors and solid wooden furniture, give the place a feeling of timelessness. Wonderfully white, heavily starched table linen lift your dining space out from the dark room, creating a food and wine island that is truly your own culinary space.
The menu is a bit of a worry, though. Not what’s on it, but how it is written. A curious mix of French and English (perfect Franglais, no doubt), without rhyme or reason and with total disregard for both French and English spelling and grammar, it succeeds to confuse the customer as to what the dishes really are.
However let the food speak for itself. The ‘House Charcuterie’ is a generous plate full of house cured olives, home made pickled vegetables, a superb chicken mousse, a country style brawn, a lovely pork terrine and a succulent, slightly spicy salami, all made and smoked in-house and served with crisp rusks of sourdough bread. An entrée of ‘Gnocchi’ turns out to be light but maybe a touch too sweet and a main course of ‘Veal with sweetbread ragout and Swiss brown mushrooms’ looks rather drab and smells acrid due to the fact that they burnt the bone when they grilled the veal chop. The meat is tough and devoid of good flavours but the ragout is excellent and saves the dish from being a total disaster. A dessert of ‘Mandarin slice served with mint sorbet’ was texturally superb and I loved the mandarin slice. The sorbet was too sweet and provided no contrast.
Service is enthusiastic and friendly, the setting superb, the wine list appropriate and well priced and the whole experience enjoyable. Unfortunately the food does let it down a bit and that’s a real shame. Some highlights, like the charcuterie, show that seriously good food is within the capability of the kitchen, but it is just not consistent enough.
For more information or bookings;
Robert’s at Peppertree
Tel.: 4998 7330