Monty’s on Montpelier was one of the shining lights of the Hobart culinary scene, reaping awards and international recognition for its fine dining experience. I was fortunate to dine there thrice and each time it lived up to the hype and delivered some wonderful memories. It was therefore a bit of a shock to learn that they were stepping away from what was so successful, giving up the name they had worked so hard to build and moving in a new direction. I was not the only one that was dubious. Pizza? Small Plates? Isn’t EVERYONE doing that? On arriving I was expecting to be disappointed. On leaving I was well and truly proven wrong.
Hearth is situated a short walk uphill from the main Salamanca strip in a converted 1890’s home. It’s warm, cosy and charming here, tables have plenty of space between them to allow for intimacy of conversation and the decor elegant without feeling too formal. It’s an inviting place and one you could happily spend a long evening with for many an occasion. Service was good apart from a few small jitters, professional with just the right amount of interaction.
The menu is split into sections of pizzas, small plates, desserts and cheeses. The only pizza tried was their rosemary one at the start. Great base but an over abundance of herb had to be shaken off to make it palatable. That said the rest of the pizza menu had some great sounding combinations, Pumpkin, Taleggio, Pine Nuts and Salt Bush is on my list for next visit.
The small plates really were the more interesting sounding choices and a selection was indeed needed to be tested.
Jerusalem artichokes were superb, matched with a creamy potato sauce and tangy ruby grapefruit the combinations of textures and flavours really played well together. I was genuinely surprised that it worked so nicely.
Smoked Pork Belly, Pickles, Seeded Mustard ($14) came close to be my favourite dish. Yes it’s classic flavours but each component was done so well with the pork being wonderful in taste and texture and complimented excellently. Like the rest it was also quite generous for a “small plate” with 2 very meaty slabs of pork.
The ribs also were quite sublime. Meaty and packed full of tender deliciousness they would beat many a rib you’d find elsewhere with care and quality winning over quantity.
My favourite of the night would have to go to the most humble sounding. Smoked Bone Marrow, Potatoes, Baba Ganoush ($14) was a sensory delight giving strong feelings of warmth and earthiness with each mouthful and an experience I didn’t want to end. The thought and care put into the dish shone and showed the team here is still very much at the top of the game.
I love cheese in all its forms and generally order it over dessert. So many times it has come as refrigerator cold and tainted, an after thought and excuse to get some more money from the punter. This one though was nearing perfection. The Gorgonzola simply oozing at room temperature, it’s creaminess and bite reaching the full potential. Oh what joy such a thing brought!
The crumble for me was nice but admittedly not my personal preference. It may have been improved if arrived warm as you might expect a crumble to but the butter ice cream made up for any disappointment being most delicious.
There were some minor quibbles. The wine list is quite short and uninspiring, although reasonably priced and BYO is permitted with corkage charged. Also not pouring the wine at the table is usually only reserved for the most casual of restaurants. Nothing too major though and it’s early days for them.
I really was surprised and glad to be proven wrong, they’ve pulled off an amazing reinvention here and I’m encouraging anyone reading this to go check them out. Great food and atmosphere at really good prices in an intimate venue.