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The Restaurant at Jack Frost - changing the game

By Justin Jenvey

Posted 18 July 2019

Familiar Hotham hospitality faces Sarah Curtin and Lisa Hemingway have added more to their plate in 2019 with the duo opening their second venue on the mountain.

Davenport Village is now home to the newest food and drink option at Hotham, turning what was most recently Arco Ski Lodge into The Restaurant at Jack Frost.

Art Deco inspired renovation

With an Art Deco inspired renovation, Curtin and Hemingway have transformed the second-storey space into a stylish lounge and restaurant specialising in modern Australian cuisine. 

They’re now juggling their newest venture with Frankie Café which they opened upstairs at the Big D last season, providing grab-and-go meals and multi-course feasts in the adjacent glasshouse.

Having both worked at Jack Frost when they first came to Hotham, Sarah said it was a dream come true to have secured a long-term lease on the building.   

“We loved working at Jack Frost in the early 2000s and like a lot of people have fond memories here with great friendships formed in this building,” she reminisced.

“In our early 20s we joked about how we would love to run it ourselves one day, so when the lease became available we jumped at the opportunity.”

Classically comfortable space

The space has undergone a number of personality changes over the past few years but the pair aim to bring back what many remember it as - a classically comfortable place for the locals to lounge.

In the kitchen is their good friend and another long-time Hotham local, James McHugh, whose prior experience on the mountain includes head chef positions at the White Room, Zirky’s Restaurant and Swindlers.

Lisa and Sarah say that together with Jimmy they have created a relaxing and friendly atmosphere offering après and family friendly wining and dining from 4pm to 6:30pm.

For a more formal environment focused on exploring quality wines by the bottle, three course dining from an a-la-carte menu and degustation menu, join them from 7pm for drinks, and dining from 7:30pm til late.

Finer dining and something for everyone

“We tried desperately to get Jimmy to come work for us at Frankie last year but when we told him we were thinking of securing the Jack Frost lease it was a 100 per cent yes from him,” Lisa said.
 

“Between the three of us we have always had a vision to do something that is finer dining, different to what you get at the local bistro or pub.  

“When we say ‘fine dining’ we are not about pretension or tiny portions - it is just really great quality food that you would expect at a modern Australian restaurant.”

The team at The Restaurant at Jack Frost have succeeded in delivering a diverse offering with stunning flavours, textures and use of as much localised produce as possible.

You can select from blue swimmer crab ravioli or fresh Lakes Entrance oysters, to slow-braised beef cheek for entrée while featured mains include pork belly, pan roasted duck and duck pithivier, slow braised lamb shoulder and ocean trout.

Warm chocolate friand is one of several desert options or a cheese platter can be complimented by a quality dessert wine or a round of cocktails which are proving hugely successful.

There are also several vegetarian and vegan dishes and, of course they cater for the kids.

More renos but they'll have to wait

It was a mad rush to have the restaurant ready for opening weekend as the room was stripped down to its bare bones before the addition of Art Deco furniture to give its warm and inviting feel.  

The best friends say there are plans to make further modifications and improvements but not until next season as they juggle the craziness of a Hotham season between their two thriving businesses.

“There certainly hasn’t been much time for riding while Lisa’s Sundays are spent with her kids, so the work life balance will have to wait until next season,” Sarah laughs. 

“We’re both used to running at the ridiculous pace of hospitality…we’re all about the big working hours and then falling in a heap in October,” agrees Lisa.

 

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When we say ‘fine dining’ we are not about pretension or tiny portions - it is just really great quality food that you would expect at a modern Australian restaurant

Lisa Hemingway