Saturday, June 18, 2011

Highland Restaurant, Cradle Mountain Lodge

The first two nights of our honeymoon (once we were off the Spirit of Tasmania) were spent at Cradle Mountain Lodge, on the fringes of the Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park, in the north-west of Tasmania. We arrived late on the first night, so had a quick dinner in The Tavern, and made a booking for the Highland Restaurant for the following night.

We had planned to start our second day with a walk (after indulging in the hotel breakfast, of course). The weather was cold and drizzly, but we were warned that snow was forecast for the afternoon, so, hesitant to put it off too long, we headed out. For the first half of the 6km Dove Lake loop track we were by ourselves, slogging it out in the wind and freezing cold rain. Then it started to clear, and other walkers seemed to come out of nowhere; school groups, serious trekkers on the start of The Overland Track, and other day walkers like ourselves. Once it cleared, Mr Alphie and I were able to see some of the beautiful scenery we had been walking through. Waterfalls running down the sides of Cradle Mountain, islands in the centre of Dove Lake, and some amazing rock formations.

We made it back to the lodge around lunchtime and relaxed in front of our log fire with the picnic lunch we had collected at breakfast that morning. After lunch, thanks to two very generous (and sneaky) groomsmen we had been booked in for a hot stone massage and milk bath at the Waldheim Spa. Feeling very relaxed, we dashed to the restaurant for a wine and cheese tasting, with a range of Tasmanian wines and cheeses. Then back to the cabin to find our complimentary canapés, and get changed for dinner.

complimentary in-room canapés (and the fire in the background!)

We debated going for the 5 course degustation ($85pp), but after our monster picnic lunch and the cheese tasting, we weren't sure we would be able to enjoy it all. So we opted for 3 courses ($69pp). Mr Alphie started with the twice cooked Tasmanian pork belly with pickled apple and celery and bush pepper paint, while I had a petit oxtail pie with capsicum relish and roasted garlic cream.

Tasmanian pork belly

The pork belly was soft and melt in your mouth, but unfortunately lacking that really crispy skin that you expect from pork belly cubes, Mr Alphie tells me it was delicious anyway! The pie was filled with soft, slow cooked oxtail, and served with two fabulous accompaniments - anything with pastry will always be a winner as far as I am concerned, and this was no exception.

petit oxtail pie

This was followed by Tasmanian venison 'primal' with honey brown mushrooms, squash, white bean puree and quince paste for Mr Alphie, and Tasmanian duck breast with roasted Mediterranean vegetables, buttered barley and roast duck essence for me.

Tasmanian venison primal

I am struggling to remember back this far ( I need to keep a notebook!), but Mr Alphie tells me his venison was superb. Quite rare, but beautifully soft and game-y.

Tasmanian duck breast

After a short break, chatting by the fire, we were ready to tackle dessert. Mr Alphie was having a lot of trouble deciding, but finally settled on the vanilla pavlova with lavender ice cream, red wine jelly, lavender shortbread and vanilla sauce, after seeing it on its way to someone else's table. I opted for a classic - chocolate fondant with raspberry sherbet and  chocolate paint.

chocolate fondant

The fondant was to die for, perfectly cakey outside with a gorgeous gooey inside, pared with tangy raspberry sorbet, just to make sure you don't suffer from a chocolate overload (not that that would be a bad thing!). The pavlova was exactly the way Mr Alphie likes them, lots of meringue and not much topping, or as he would say, 'lots of pav-, hardly any -lova'. The ice cream and shortbread were very fragrant, but didn't have overpowering lavender flavours, which I think is preferable, lavender flavour always runs the risk of being too room deodoriser-like if it's too strong.

vanilla pavlova

The meal was outstanding, and coupled with the beautiful rooms, day spa and gorgeous scenery, Mr Alphie and I were talking about when we could be back, before we'd even left!



  1. Hi Alphie,
    Loved this post (obviously) - Hey, I run this site: all about Cradle. (even though I live in Vic, go figure) If I asked nicely could I reproduce one of your great food pics (the venison looks great) and some of the review on the site, with a link back to you for the full version??
    Email is frank AT cradlemountain DOT net

    Cheers and have you thought about adding something like Google Feedburner to your site so people can subscribe by email? Would love to keep getting your stuff, it's really interesting!


  2. Love it! We were there 2 years ago, stayed at the Lodge too and did that same walk! I really want to go back...