There’s been a definite shift in Stillwater’s approach in recent years. Steering away from formal silver service and toward relaxed shared dining, the recently hatted restaurant recognises the refreshed take on eating out and has been all too happy to adapt.
Stillwater’s menu is a layered mix of local delicacies prepared in a way not to interfere too much. Why overcomplicate the outstanding produce that often gets delivered to the door by a grower in gumboots fresh from the farm.
Executive Chef Craig Will says why his team abides by the seasons it’s really a case of working with what’s in top form.
“I always start with a protein – or if it’s vegetarian, one main component – and work from there to pair what we’re going to do around it.”
The ever-changing lunch and dinner menus are now blended and broken in to chapters starting at snacks and ending in large plates. You’re encouraged to order from across the board, throwing in a few sides and maybe some cheese to end. Of an evening, you can always trust the hand that feeds you and enjoy the Chef’s Five Course Menu.
You may be familiar with lamb from Flinders Island, Mount Gnomon pork or Huon salmon. Tasmania’s culinary heroes feature beautifully amid a list of well-balanced dishes treated with respect by the brigade of chefs Craig says are all passionate epicurean advocates.
“We try not to use anything that’s out of our reach.”
So, what’s on the menu this summer?
“Expect octopus from the west coast, where the cray fishermen tend to catch them when reeling in their pots. There’ll be abalone, probably simply cooked on our Japanese charcoal grill. There’s heaps of great white fish around at the moment, also – things like boarfish, blue trevalla and snapper. We have it all on our doorstop.”
Also anticipate beef from beloved Cape Grim.
“We roll eye fillet in French sea salt which firms the outside up and cures about an inch in to the meat. We’re cooking it to medium which creates a really unique texture and flavour then serving with Sicilian olive and yuzu tapenade.”
As for sweeties: pine tree leaf-infused parfait with Turner’s Beach strawberries or green apple panna cotta.
When Craig’s not steering the ship at Stillwater or the restaurant’s little sibling, Black Cow Bistro, he’s busy in his garden. It’s a space to switch off from the demands of work and practice his green thumbery.
Okra, peas, cucumber, eggplants and an assortment of herbs are some of Craig’s handiwork, which is also now turning up on Stillwater dishes.
“We really want to keep the menu fresh and progressive, instead of doing the same thing day after day. “
An approach we’ll be all too happy to sail along with this summer.