Modern architecture juxtaposed with an 1880s homestead and landscaped garden could be a hideous mismatch, but that's not the case at Josef Chromy, one of Tasmania’s best outposts.
Following the completion of the new restaurant and function centre in 2012, the Victorian homestead at the front is now solely used as the cellar door. Peel off to the left and past the kitchen and you’ll come to the spacious modern dining room, with its floor-to-ceiling windows and timber, inside and out. The old and the new complement each other yet maintain their own identity, with cellar door guests not imposing on diners and vice versa.
Although anyone visiting the cellar door around midday would be crazy not to stay for lunch; Matt Adams’ food is excellent. He uses the best seasonal Tasmanian produce and neatly balances flavours to highlight the main ingredient. There’s no competition on the plate, just with the person dining with you as the menu encourages shared dishes.
I’m sharing with the affable Jeremy Dineen. He is not only chief winemaker, but also Josef Chromy’s general manager, charged with tasting new dishes every season and consulting on the wine list. Most current releases are offered by the glass, including the Josef Chromy label, the high-end ZDAR wines, and the youthful, easy-drinking PEPIK range. There’s a museum list and Jeremy offers a clutch of wines made by friends or simply those he enjoys drinking, say shiraz or cabernet as Josef Chromy doesn’t produce any. So Best’s Bin 1 Great Western Shiraz 2012 ($62) or Bellwether Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($90) might be in the mix alongside some Burgundy and Champagne.
Coming off the back of a regional riesling tasting presented by Jeremy, I’m hankering for a glass of Josef Chromy Delikat SGR 2013 ($10). Floral with citrus nuances, the natural high acidity meshes well with the wine’s 60 grams of residual sugar, but it’s not sweet like honey, more off-dry and textural. The riesling matches brilliantly with a Middle Eastern–influenced tomato entree ($18), in which sweet, blistered heirloom tomatoes are plated with smoky baba ganoush and topped with thinly sliced deep-fried eggplant that’s more crisp than chip. There are lots of different tastes and textures, including a saffron curd that Matt makes from scratch, yet none dominates.
The same goes for the line-caught blue-eye trevalla ($39) with its Spanish inflections. While the fish is baked, it’s moist and coated with an orangey-sherry vinegar dressing, served with pickled carrots, green olives, onion and fennel. Crunch from bits of fried sourdough sprinkled on top completes the picture.
In a more savoury, earthy dish, black pudding and quail partner perfectly ($20). The partly boned quail and thick slices of black pudding are pan fried and served with pickled beetroot and a piquant plum sauce. It’s a neat match with the Josef Chromy Pinot Noir 2014 ($12.50).
Jeremy credits his boss, octogenarian Josef Chromy, as having the nous to bring the right people together (his story as a poor Czech immigrant turned savvy businessman is extraordinary and may be viewed on the website). It’s the reason Jeremy’s restaurant team is en forme with front-of-house, led by French duo Frederique and Thomas Raimbaud, who bring their considerable experience to bear: she as a sommelier in the cellar door, and he as the restaurant manager.
“You don’t do stuff like this unless you love what you do,” Jeremy adds. He’s right. I’m coming back to check out next season’s menu.
Explore more of Northern Tasmania's wineries here.