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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Not impressed in New Town

I had high hopes this morning when I paid a visit to the New Town Green Store - organic grocer and cafe. They were quickly dashed.

The biggest fault here? Their menu is almost totally reliant on pre cooked dished reheated to order - pies, quiches and the like. And with Jackman and McRoss serving up similar fare less that a kilometre down the road, pre-cooked is a risky choice. On the upside, there are a lot of gluten free options, many more than usual, but I cannot attest for their quality.

I ordered the vegetable lasagne with a side salad (10.90), and it was nice. But just nice, there was nothing special about it. The salad was large, almost a meal in itself, and very busy. With six or seven different ingredients it almost overshadowed the featured dish. My friend finally settled on his third preference (the first two were unavailable at 11 am on a Sunday) of a vegetable pie (6.50) with salad (3.50). While very reasonable priced, our choices just tasted like reheated ready meals, which is not a sacrifice I am prepared to make when I eat out. I can reheat my own meals at home thanks.

The coffee was fair trade, but terrible. My late was a too-hot flat white in a glass. I ordered a second just in case I had been given a rare dud, and this one was worse, with a little mountain of stiff froth half an inch over the glass.

The service was patchy at best. One very young, very untrained and very unsupervised waitress was carrying coffee, one-by-one with kid gloves to each table and she was still managing to spill them. With only 6-7 tables, seating 20 at best, tables still remained uncleared for sometime, including ours, although we were obviously finished. Competent service can change a dining experience for the better, and I saw very little, if any, competent service today. Good intentions, but no experience.

Almost everything on the menu was available to take home from a display cabinet, including a vast selection of cakes and slices, but none of these items gave the New Town Green Store any identity of its own. The menu listed "Award winning organic pies," and when I asked, I was told they mostly came from the Tasmanian Pie Company. This is all well and good, so why not just say so on the menu. The foundations were there with a good selection of items, but for a deli, not a cafe.

Although the store sells almost exclusively organic, natural and free range produce, the menu selection was confusing. Is the meat used in the meat dishes free range? "Sometimes, when it is available," said our waitress. Was the side salad organic? "Mostly," said our waitress. But "sometimes" and "mostly" are not good enough. Is the New Town Green Store an organic cafe? Not really, and in my experience customers looking for organic food want organic food. You can't just have one foot in the door when your cafe adjoins an organic produce store, there are no excuses.

I want to find something nice to say about this venue, but I am lost on this one. There are some brilliant cafes around the Hobart area at the moment who put up stiff competition to the New Town Green Store. Jackman and McRoss in Battery Point, Victoria Street and New Town, Tricycle in Salamanca, Pigeon Hole in West Hobart, and Grub Cafe in New Town, just to mention a few, make the cafe business look easy. The New Town Green Store (organic or not, I can't really tell) doesn't have a patch on them.

New Town Green Store
Organic grocer & cafe
134 New Town Road, New Town
Open breakfast and lunch 7 days


Victor - Foodtrail said...

That is a shame because the appearance on the outside looks good and promising. I have driven past a few times and last Thursday even thought of stopping in for a lunch. But, then I decided to go to Jackman around the corner.

Not sure if you are aware that there is Jean Pascal Patisserie not far from Jackman, on Carlton St, New Town. It is popular with the locals, and across from the dine in cafe, there is their take away store/providore/florist.

Cheers, Victor

Bendalls said...

I really like it and go there often, as so do friends with coeliac, lactose or fructose intolerance. The staff go out of their way to provide appealing and tasty food that for us to eat. My husband can eat anything and is a cafe junkie. He really enjoys the quality and service at the cafe.
Suggest you try it again- sit in the sun, read organic and green energy magazines, enjoy your coffee and relax.

Anonymous said...

Please do not be deterred by this review. I had intended to try the Green Store for some time and was disappointed when I read this posting. It did not however, put me off. I had a lovely lunch there today, and would highly recommend you pay them a visit!