The desire to wear tweed will be great when you visit the historic Clarendon Arms in Evandale. With a theme of all things game (animal not computer), decked out like a British shooter’s inn, this recently refurbished pub cum restaurant come coffee shop and cool beer garden, is a recommended visit on a cool autumn day. With country-style rooms featuring occasional taxidermy, park your shotgun and beagle alongside one of the many roaring wood fires. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, this place is a local haunt for the morning coffee crowd to come and sink into the leather couches over lattes well before the first lunch sitting at 11.30am.
Our table is set near the orange glow of a wood fire under the watchful gaze of half a former goat protruding above the mantle and overseeing the main dining room. A large stained glass window at the end of the room depicts various hunting, shooting and fishing icons, and throws a soft light on the room, today full of reserved tables. There is a mix of modern furnishings and antique curios on shelves, and dining tables set with crystal style glassware and slate table numbers.
The Clarendon Arms use of an online booking system proved remarkably efficient against many other bookings systems I’ve used in the past. The whoosh of a sent email proves too often to be the sound of internet tumbleweeds whizzing past a desolate website that nobody has the inclination or time to check in on. Not the case here – the response was almost immediate, complete with booking ID and contact details.
The village of Evandale is only a short drive from Launceston Airport and its Sunday market is popular with visitors. There’s a mixture of antiques, produce and pony rides all gathered in a generous space. Clever handmade items mix in with the usual market stuff at usual market stuff prices.
Evandale’s main street winds around a bend amongst the Georgian buildings with local references to famous resident and colonial artist John Glover. His statue sizes up the town looking along an upright thumb with artist’s palate at his side standing outside the Evandale market.
The Clarendon Arms menu presented me with some great winter choices to warm the lungs. The traditional roasts get a good hearing, with roast pork and apple sauce or rolled roast rib of highland beef with vegetables and Yorkshire pudding. This menu is the real deal for hearty seasonal food with a selection of house-made pies, including a Haggerstone Highland steak and kidney.
The drinks list offers a good selection of local beers and ciders on tap along with their own house whites and some good representations from Goaty Hill and nearby Josef Chromy wineries.
With our half former goat friend smiling down upon us, this may not be the first place you’d think to take your vegan friends, but the layered lentil and vegetable moussaka with braised fennel gets a (gf) an (v), and there’s also a spiced vegetarian shepherd’s pie.
Also less meaty is a salmon option or my choice of the Cajun spiced fish and potato cake with horseradish cream, cucumber and dill salad. A generous pair of rocky shaped cakes arrive, cream and dill on top and salad on the side, all served on a wooden paddle. Hmm, the wooden paddle! For what I suspect can go from cool kitchen concept to waitress disaster in a matter of seconds, the wooden board as plate idea can present just a few dining challenges. The need to cut and slice within your paddle boundaries can prove difficult with food items ready to ricochet away with one false fork move. I really do prefer the safe surrounds of a dinner plate. I’d hate to take someone’s eye out with a misfired cucumber quarter.
Dessert options included a baked chocolate fondant, a steamed lime pudding or chocolate semifreddo, with our shared dessert choice having its inaugural appearance as a hot bourbon and raisin pudding. I suspect it won’t be its last. A super moist pudding containing soaked and plump raisins came with a generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. The quickly drenched pudding from a small side jar of caramelly bourbon flavoured sauce meant our debut dessert disappeared very quickly.
So, after a hearty meal it was time to head for home. Mustn’t forget the beagle.
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