Tasmanian Times


The reinvention of Hobart


The island state has become a serious cultural and culinary destination.

HOBART has long been the first port of call for tourists keen to immerse themselves in Tasmania’s pristine wilderness and stunning coastal areas. But there is a new breed of tourist arriving in the city in search of an altogether different type of adventure – an escapade of the cultural and epicurean kind.

Five years ago, few would have thought Hobart would become a hot spot of some of the most vaunted restaurants in Australia.

Sure, the quality of Tasmanian produce – notably its cheese, salmon and oysters – has long been revered. But in the past year, the emergence of hip new wine bars and restaurants has immeasurably raised Hobart’s estimation in the eyes of food lovers and critics.

The newcomers include Garagistes, which opened in September last year and whose head chef, Luke Burgess – an acolyte of Sydney’s Tetsuya Wakuda – was named best new talent by Gourmet Traveller in August.

Housed in a former mechanic’s warehouse in Murray Street, North Hobart, with exposed beams, distressed brick walls, sleek communal tables and a long, wooden sweep of a bar, Garagistes would not look out of place in Flinders Lane or Gertrude Street. It has even borrowed the no-bookings policy that is the mainstay of Melbourne’s most fashionable restaurants (although bookings are essential for Garagistes’ four-course Sunday lunch).

In short, it’s the kind of place that would rile food critic and part-time Hobart resident Leo Schofield, who has complained that Tasmania suffers from too much Melbourne influence.

The great thing about Garagistes, though, is that even with its no-bookings policy, it’s still possible to be seated almost immediately on a Thursday evening if you arrive for the second sitting, at 8.30pm, as we did. Try that at a ”no-bookings” Melbourne restaurant.

Saturdays are a trickier affair, however, and a wait at the bar is inevitable. The good news is that the organic, preservative-free wines served here can be drunk in greater quantities with fewer debilitating after-effects.

The food is worth the wait: surprising, inventive and delicately sensational, such as the steamed Bruny Island oysters, gliding in a fabulously creamy emulsion of apple cider, hazelnut oil and chervil, or an astonishingly textured, marshmallow-like soft-boiled duck egg, served with broad beans and toasted grains of quinoa, spelt and buckwheat.
Ethos in Hobart.

A deconstructed dessert of burnt cream, shortcake, citrus meringue, rhubarb granita and oxalis jelly is a revelation.

Hot on Garagistes’ heels was Ethos Eat Drink, which opened in March and quickly built a reputation and a following – not just for its innovative dishes, inspired by locally and ethically sourced ingredients, but also for its evocative location in a heritage-listed, 19th-century stable, reached via a promisingly mysterious, arched laneway off Elizabeth Street in the city.

The lane was a former carriageway, blocked off for 100 years …

Meanwhile, David Moyle, a ”Melbourne born-and-bred” chef whose credits include stints at Circa and the Pacific Dining Room in Byron Bay, has been busy relaunching the Stackings restaurant in the idyllic Peppermint Bay venue, a 30-minute drive from Hobart in the rural village of Woodbridge, which has spectacular water views.

Speaking about Hobart is impossible these days without mentioning David Walsh and his Museum of Old and New Art, an $80 million, river-hugging fortress that has raised the city’s cultural cachet and tourism appeal.

MONA opened in January and has become Tasmania’s top tourist attraction, drawing to the capital the sort of visitor that tourism bodies define as urbane, sophisticated and culturally aware; in other words, the type who is happy to spend not only at the museum but also at the new-style eateries springing up in the city and surrounds.

Not that Walsh professes to care all that much about who eats where. Rumours about MONA’s mystifying, eccentric owner abound, so the story I’m about to tell may or may not be true. Reportedly, during MONA’s lavish opening at the start of the year, some starry-eyed, interstate Walsh fans eagerly approached the man to ask for tips on where to eat in his home town. They were blessed with a bona fide Walsh-ian reply: ”I don’t give a f—.”

An earlier view of MONA: The Sound of good shiraz, liberally poured!x

Read more HERE

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  1. William Boeder

    December 27, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    7. Robin Halton, I agree, for we are not paid up members of any sophisticated eclectic group of chardonnay swillers, just good old common sense people opposed to this type of upper-level flap-doodle foolery.

    I would like to be assured that the Jan Gehl report was in fact “donated” to the HCC, not commissioned nor Jan Gehl acting as a paid consultant for creating this ridiculous concept of further traffic congestion for this busy area of Hobart?

  2. Robin Halton

    December 27, 2011 at 12:17 am

    Call me old fashioned and perhaps a bit non cultural but I was more than pleased to see the opening of the new Woolworths and new shops in the Wellington Court complex by developer Ali Sultan.
    Argyle St Carpark, opening hours extended from 7am- 10pm with a carpark and lift giving direct access to Woolies and Wellington Court which opens directly onto Liverpool St as well as into the Mall.
    Yes we use a car, we dont walk, bus it or cycle to the shops. In our opinion the Ali Sultan development is doing more for Hobart than any ambitions for the rebuilding of Myer for a fashion conscious ” minority” with the money to spend!
    Now here is something for the culture and culinary conscious! According to Tuesday’s Mercury the Hobart City Council is now going to conduct “Salamanca Place trials to test inner city revamp” in accordance with the Jan Gehl report.
    Cutting parking spaces, widen the foot path and wait for it making it one way and closing off through traffic onto Castray Espl.
    It seems the ultimate aim is to create a traffic free zone on Salamanca Place. Apart from Saturday’s Market Day closure I cannot see the logic behind the Hobart City Council’s time and money wasting ideology to make access more difficult to the site to satisfy what?
    I wonder if the locals would ever bother to visit the Salamanca eateries in cold and wet mid winter evenings if the opportunity for parking was removed.

  3. Philip Lowe

    December 24, 2011 at 7:23 am

    Dear Christine Wilson,No4.What I mean is that in Hobart, too many people are too busy posing too have a bloody good laughing time.Conservative, parochial attitudes,and let’s not forget that bloody tragic cultural cringe.Try nitrous oxide in the air condtioning,or maybe someone will notice the hilarity.Stop trying to be the people in the pictures in the weekend newspaper magazines.

  4. hugoagogo

    December 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    This piece somehow held my attention to the end, with the tip of my tail twitching only about seven times. Here’s one.

    Deconstructed dessert?

    In what sense? Perhaps Gabriela is interpreting this text (a version of the dessert comprising burnt cream, shortcake, citrus meringue, rhubarb granita and oxalis jelly) in the context of other such texts. That is the act of deconstruction. One text isn’t deconstructed relative to another, if anything they are all ‘deconstructed together’.

    Derrida who coined deconstruction doesn’t make it any easier for us as the silly bugger refused to actually define it.

    Philosophers eh?

    Anyhow, to say that the current dessert is deconstructed relative to others implies a change of state, as opposed to the act. Another meaning of deconstructed is dismember, which could be applied to arrangement on a plate, and to modern writing…

    I think Gabriella is trying to say that the present dessert is plated differently to all previous assemblages of those ingredients in her experience, possibly segregated by ingredient, or arranged by some gap-year engineering kitchenhand in a tottering manner of which Schofield would rightly disapprove, while trying to appear as deep yet unaccountable as Derrida.

    That’s OK, she’s a food writer.

  5. Christine Wilson

    December 22, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I don’t understand Philip Lowe’s comment. I’ve eaten at both Garagistes and Ethos and in both cases, the food was a little expensive but creative and delicious and the wine excellent. Both venues were also very stylish. I think it’s great that establishments like these have opened in Tasmania and are attracting positive national attention, which is, really, all too rare. Perhaps if Philip wants a belly laugh he can go to MONA and spend some time gazing at Wim Delvoye’s cloaca machine. These restaurants enhance our reputation as something of a fine food mecca. I believe that it is in this direction that our future lies.

  6. Trevor K

    December 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    “A deconstructed dessert of burnt cream, shortcake, citrus meringue, rhubarb granita and oxalis jelly is a revelation.”

    Our bit for global sustainability and massive over population. Expensive fine dining.

    The scraps could be collected and fed to people waiting for hours and hours at RHH Emergency.

  7. David Mitchell

    December 22, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Why is it when there is actually a good news story, for a change on the TT, that it appears we still seem to need to have a cultural cringe ?

    I have eaten at Ethos recently and I can well understand the accolades it is starting to receive. Sure it is a little pricey for Tapas but on the other hand, the food was lovely, the wine excellent and the restoration of the buiilding including the entrance totally captivating.

    I think people should start to realise and be happy that we have such places available to dine at, at last.

  8. Philip Lowe

    December 21, 2011 at 5:55 am

    All this and no fun.Don’t forget to hold your little finger out when holding the cup,and roll the wine and sniff it.AND no belly laughs.

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