Tasmania has been having a moment for a while now. All that clean air and fresh and fabulous produce is a great lure for foodies but two people who were onto Tassie well before the rest of us are Peter Leary and Philip Kennedy, the owners of Pure South Dining restaurant in Southbank.
Pure South Dining started 12 years ago as a way to showcase Tasmania’s best ingredients straight from the producers. That’s still the impetus behind the restaurant but it’s also being reinvented with new chefs, a new menu and new location. I was invited along with a bunch of other food obsessed people to check out the test kitchen (dubbed 7000 by Pure South Dining) which is operating while construction goes on.
The new restaurant has moved to the Arts Centre end of Southbank making it a good option for pre/post theatre dining. But most importantly chef David Hall (ex Brooks) and Sam Prance Smith have come on board and are making the most of Pure South’s connections with Tasmania’s top producers.
The food they’re cooking is quite technical but still tasty. You can have a three course meal here or just pop in for a drink. If it’s the latter and you want something to go with your glass of Tasmanian sparkling there are puffed squares of nori and black rice ($6) or a sophisticated take on pork scratchings in the form of puffed pork teamed with tangy mandarin ($7). Just charred corn on the cob is slathered in miso butter and a sprinkling of raclette ($8) and it’s hard to stop at one.
Plates like the pastrami ($12) are great for sharing with folds of pastrami teamed with dollops of eggplant puree and slices of pickle to add kick.
There’s an emphasis on native ingredients like the wallaby ($22) where the gamey meat is paired with bitter red cabbage and sweet beetroot. It’s a symphony in red but the flavours all work together.
I now have a whole new appreciation for Australian sea herbs after trying Pure South’s scallops ($22) which are burnished and served with wild mushrooms, a rich broth and some salty sea herbs the chefs forage themselves.
The chicken “Caesar” ($26) is bound to become a must order dish with Pure South reinventing this classic 80’s salad so that it’s heavy on the chicken and light on the lettuce including the most moreish chicken wing stuffed with raclette, crumbed and fried.
At the sweet end of the deal there’s a spectacular chocolate pavé ($16) layered with caramel (although it’s so rich that sharing is probably best) and a wobbly pannacotta topped with tart rhubarb ($16).
The main restaurant is still under construction but there’s a lot to like about what’s happening already at 7000 by Pure South Dining.
Gourmet Chick was a guest of 7000 by Pure South Dining
Details: 7000 by Pure South Dining, Upper level, Southgate, Southbank (Ph 03 9699 4600)