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JourneysA Food Lover's Guide To Hobart

A Food Lover's Guide To Hobart

A Food Lover's Guide To Hobart
By Rachel Duffell
May 24, 2019
The capital of Tasmania is one of Australia's greatest food destinations

In a place that boasts some of the cleanest, clearest cool waters in the world alongside lush green landscapes where juicy fruits, crisp vegetables and flavourful herbs thrive, it’s no surprise that Tasmania draws chefs and foodies alike, inspired to create—and indulge in—culinary masterpieces featuring some of the finest fresh produce. This ranges from the more familiar—beef, lamb, venison and a host of sumptuous seafood items—to the more unusual and unexpected, such as home-grown olives and hazelnuts as well as the lean, rich meat of the wallaby. Tasmania is the only place in Australia where it’s legal to eat the marsupial. And don’t forget the oysters. Oyster, oysters, everywhere!

Start the day at Pigeon Hole Cafe

(Photo courtesy of Pigeon Hole Cafe)
(Photo courtesy of Pigeon Hole Cafe)
(Photo courtesy of Pigeon Hole Cafe)
(Photo courtesy of Pigeon Hole Cafe)
(Photo courtesy of Pigeon Hole Cafe)
 

You’d be forgiven for confusing Pigeon Hole and Pigeon Whole. The former is a homely café, the latter a smart bakery, and while they were once part of the same establishment, the former is now run by Weston Farms. This means fresh seasonal fruits, vegetables and herbs straight from estate to plate, though the cafe also brings in the exceptional breads and pastries made day and night at Pigeon Whole Bakers – walk past it on any evening and you’ll likely see at least one baker kneading away in the kitchen located beside renowned Hobart restaurant Franklin. While you can enjoy coffee and a croissant at Pigeon Whole Bakers, Pigeon Hole Café has a coziness combined with a creative menu and attractive, ever-changing specials board that makes it a prime spot for a nourishing start to the day.

Pigeon Hole Café, 93 Goulburn Street, West Hobart, Australia, +61 3 6236 9306; pigeonholecafe.com.au

An enduring classic: Franklin

(Photo courtesy of Franklin)
(Photo courtesy of Franklin)
(Photo courtesy of Franklin)
(Photo courtesy of Franklin)
 

Tasmania is the only place in Australia where you can eat wallaby (legally), and if you are going to, why not do it in a place that’s overseen by a chef who can count such esteemed establishments as Mugaritz, Le Meurice and The Ledbury among her culinary experience? Analiese Gregory has plenty to get your tastebuds going on her enticing produce-driven menu. To ease the decision-making, choose the ‘feed me’ option where the friendly staff will ensure the finest selection from the open kitchen is delivered to your table, featuring, for example, such delights as Blackman Bay oysters, octopus and saltbush dumplings, raw Bruny Island wallaby and wood-roasted Littlewood lamb. Enjoy it all in the restaurant’s industrial-chic surrounds, once a former 1920 Ford car showroom in the city’s historic Mercury Newspaper Building. What’s not to love?

Franklin, 30 Argyle Street, Hobart, Australia, +61 3 6234 3375; franklinhobart.com.au

For a true local flavour: The Agrarian Kitchen

(Photo: Adam Gibson)
(Photo: Adam Gibson)

Not technically in Hobart, but rather a 30-minute drive north-west of the city in the small town of New Norfolk, The Agrarian Kitchen is a must-go. Affiliated with the acclaimed Cooking School & Farm, which opened in 2008 with the aim of fostering the connection between people and their food, the Eatery followed in 2017. Set in a former asylum that The Agrarian Kitchen’s owners saved from demolition, the lofty ceilings, white-washed walls and well-spaced tables make for a very pleasant dining setting. The dishes served celebrate seasonal produce sourced from local growers, farmers and fisherfolk, presented in a manner that enhances their inherent flavours on a daily-changing menu. There’s a dedicated preserving kitchen for excess produce, and cheese is made on site—hello house-made burrata. It’s not a cheap dining experience—particularly compared to fine dining spots in Hobart’s city centre—but it’s one you’re bound to remember.

The Agrarian Kitchen, 11A The Avenue, New Norfolk, Australia, +61 3 6262 0011; theagrariankitchen.com

Splurge at Dier Makr

(Photo courtesy of Dier Makr)
(Photo courtesy of Dier Makr)
(Photo courtesy of Dier Makr)
(Photo courtesy of Dier Makr)
 

If you have just one night to dine in Hobart, reserve a counter seat at Dier Makr. You won’t know what delights lie in store, as only if you can find the poorly signed establishment will the set tasting menu be revealed, chalked up on one wall, and even then only in the simplest terms; there might be loin, grains, cucumber for one course; carrot, hay, wattle seed for another; then shoulder, blueberry, juniper. But delights they all are. The apparent straightforwardness in each description belies what arrives, beautifully presented—and that’s some of Hobart’s finest culinary combinations of flavour and texture. Said loin, for example, turns out to be rich, thinly sliced, raw venison, draped over a creamy porridge and accompanied by a crisp, rosella-spiced cucumber. It’s a dish that lingers in the mind’s memory long after dinner comes to a close. Other dishes bring similar pleasure to the palate, which is further entertained by the restaurant’s drinks menu. The collection of largely natural, organic and biodynamic wines is less a list, more a walk-in wine cellar where you have the opportunity to choose your wine from bottles tagged with charming hand-written tasting notes.

Dier Makr, 123 Collins Street, Hobart, Australia, +61 3 6288 8910; diermakr.com

Get a drink at Ettie's

(Photo by Rosie Hastie)
(Photo by Rosie Hastie)

Some visit Ettie’s because it’s home to what is reportedly the oldest flushing toilet in Australia—on display behind glass for those that want to view it— but we’d recommend you go for the drinks. The bar/restaurant, located in a building dating back to the 1830s, offers sit-down dining, but it’s well worth pulling up a stool at the counter in the “Wine Room”, where knowledgeable staff will take you through the offerings. Alternatively, approach one of the large shelving units—the Wine Room doubles as a bottle shop—for a hands-on search for the bottle you want to open up or take home. There’s an excellent selection of Tasmanian wines—premium and rare—as well as bottles from further afield, not to mention tasty bar snacks that champion local produce. If you stop in on a Friday or Saturday night, take the spiral staircase down to the basement piano bar and revel into the wee hours.

Ettie's, 100 Elizabeth Street, Hobart, Australia, +61 3 6231 1165; etties.com.au

What to buy to bring back with you

(Photo by Alistair Bett, Courtesy of City of Hobart)
(Photo by Alistair Bett, Courtesy of City of Hobart)
 

From France you might bring home cheese, perhaps olive oil from Italy, chocolate from Switzerland and honey from Greece. In a place like Tasmania, best known for its fresh produce, what do you throw in the hold? Any of the above, apparently. There’s a thriving cheese-making scene for starters; honey is everywhere, much of it Manuka like New Zealand’s health-benefit-touting own. Federation Artisan Chocolate produces handcrafted chocolate, in various forms, many imbued with local flavours from Tasman sea salt to Tasmanian hazelnuts. There’s even cool climate olive oil from a number of different producers. Local gin is widely available, too, as you might expect, but there’s also whisky, too, as well as an excellent selection of wine, much of which is not available outside Tasmania and often features fun, arty labelling that makes it great for a gift. So much of this—and more, from fudge to mustards, jams to biltong—is available at Salamanca Market, which takes place every Saturday morning. For a smaller selection focused on fresh produce alongside some take-home treats, Farm Gate Market runs on Sunday mornings. If pushed to pick just one Tasmanian treat to take home, visit the small Coal River Farm store in Hobart’s Cat and Fiddle Arcade. Here you’ll find dark chocolate-covered honeycomb, the rich, crisp, airy honeycomb made with Tasmanian Leatherwood honey lends it its distinctive, delectable flavour.

Salamanca Market, Salamanca Place, Hobart, Australia; salamancamarket.com.au

Farm Gate Market, 104 Bathurst Street, Hobart, Australia; farmgatemarket.com.au

Coal River Farm, Cat and Fiddle Arcade, 51 Murray Street, Hobart, Australia

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