Look, we’re not saying Hobart’s food scene is entirely responsible for the becoming the destination de jour. The eccentric art-mecca MoNA, the rolling-hills-and-scenic-river landscape and the historic architecture have all made the mainland seem like a fool’s errand. It’s heaving in Hobart. Have at it.
Young chef Analiese Gregor has just moved on, so you won’t be eating sea urchin and wakame she plucked from the chilly waters off Fossil Cove herself. Gregory’s departure is not a deal-breaker, though, because whoever is next to take up the pans at Franklin will continue the legacy of super-local, seasonal produce prepared with a fresh eye for flavours. And plenty of that flavour comes from the enormous Scotch oven that dominates the open kitchen in the large, light-flooded dining room (which had a former life as a Ford showroom). The ethos has earned the restaurant many accolades, including two hats. Order a la carte, or go for the Feed Me option for $90 a head.
30 Argyle Street, Hobart
Each dish on the Dier Makr menu is written on a section of wall that’s been roughly daubed with blackboard paint and is largely mononymous – like Madonna. The waitstaff may place “Beetroot” on the table and you’ll receive a tuile of crisp fried beetroot filled with crimson labne and topped with pickled beetroot; “Celeriac” yields a shortbread made with celeriac “flour” and topped with caramelised whey. The soundtrack is pleasingly retro; the room darkly dramatic, though the vibe is upbeat and youthful, thanks to the enthusiasm of waitstaff and their fearless leaders: chef Kobi Ruzicka and front-of-house Sarah Fitzsimmons. Dier Makr is top-level dining at a very accessible price: the menu consists of six to eight courses and costs $85; wine’s available by the glass (or take a trip to the wine room to select a bottle of something low-intervention). This kind of value is possible because it’s in Hobart: a perfect storm of produce, creativity and affordability means restaurants like Dier Makr and make their mark.
123 Collins Street, Hobart
Somehow, The plans of owner-chefs, local Oskar Rossi and Naples-born Federica Andrisani, to open in Italy went awry, and Hobart ended up scoring. This warm, convivial restaurant (pictured top) feels relaxed and generous. Long communal tables, and a scattering of smaller ones, dot two large rooms. Inspired by Italy but by no means constrained by it, the menu flits from zucchini flowers stuffed with house-made ricotta cream to fresh tomato sauce to soy-cured kingfish and wasabi crème fraiche and back again to squid-ink tortelli with calamari, nettle and yuzu.
151A Macquarie Street, Hobart
With just 20 seats and a kitchen the size of a shoebox, chef Matt Breen keeps things lean. Which is not to say austere: this small but mighty restaurant has an Italian-leaning menu that’s full of generous pasta dishes designed to share. House-made gnochetti makes a regular appearance on the handwritten menu, which rotates often. Expect a lively, genial atmosphere. Staff weave in out of tables filling glasses and delivering dishes; the hum of chatter steadily rises and two forks amiably twirl in a single dish on every table.
98 Patrick Street, Hobart
Ettie’s Bar & Bottleshop
A bar-bistro in the CBD, Ettie’s is always a safe choice if your tastes extend to excellent wine and shared dishes such as terrine with sauerkraut and Dijon mustard or mussels given heft with nduja and black barley. While it’s hard to go past a prix fixe option – think orecchiete with winter greens and anchovy, wine and coffee – it’s perfectly enjoyable to sit with a glass of Two Tonne Tasmania Riesling and ruminate over some smoked almonds as you watch the passing parade. Anything goes – and that’s how Ettie’s likes it.
100 Elizabeth Street, Hobart
MoNA does things a little differently and the spirit of artistic deviance extends through to the museum’s dining options. Faro, a new bar and restaurant in the new Pharos wing of MoNA, has much that you’d expect from a European-inspired tapas bar: sangria by the litre, jamon iberico and Manchego and leek croquettes with romesco. But then there’s the ones you never saw coming: feral pig’s eyes encased in ice float in your black margarita, lab-coated waitstaff and four custom-made artworks by light artist and cattle rancher James Turrell, one of which, Unseen Seen, involves entering a giant sphere at the entry to the restaurant before undergoing a sensory deprivation experience. This is no ordinary meal.
MoNA, 655 Main Road, Berriedale
The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery & Store
About half-an-hour drive from Hobart, The Agarian Kitchen has been luring diners to a former women’s mental asylum with the promise of rustic, locally sourced food and excellent wine. Ominous though the appearance of the ruined asylum is, any feelings of dread disappear upon entry to the light, airy dining room with its pressed tin ceilings and sleek, simple décor. Everything on the plate is grown nearby and made in-house, from the three-day fermented sourdough to the lime pickle to the shareable daily hunk of local meat, roasted over the kitchen’s open fire and served with a troupe of sides. The Eatery is in New Norfolk; for those you want to learn their ways, Agrarian Kitchen founders Rodney Dunn and Séverine Demanet also run the Cooking School & Farm in Lachlan.
11a The Avenue, New Norfolk
Since opening on the top floor of Brooke Street Pier, Aløft has become one of Hobart’s most loved restaurants. It’s approach? Pedantically local, hyper-seasonal, always original. There’s a discernible Asian influence in dishes such as Aromatic Hot and Sour Fish and Turnip Cake with black vinegar mushrooms; many have the added intrigue of native herbs and spices such as kunzea, mountain pepper and prickly ash. If you can tear your eyes away from the beauty of the plates look out the window through which spectacular sunsets, incredible storms and the occasional dolphin may be viewed.
Brooke Street Pier, 12 Franklin Wharf, Hobart
Room for a Pony
Image credit: Nina Hamilton.
By day, it does a quick trade in heightened brunch fare: Mango Sticky Rice comes with coconut cream, pistachios and cornflakes and Chinese Fried Chilli Omelette is served on a bed of steamed jasmine rice with oyster sauce and fried shallots. Come 3pm, though, the hiss of the coffee steamer pipes down, to be replaced by the pleasing sound of ice on steel and a bar food menu that starts with fish fingers and opens out to hearty pastas and wood-fired pizza (the Bob Brown is a fitting homage to the former Greens Senator, topped with broccolini, kale and silverbeet).
338 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart
Peacock and Jones
The waterfront location and gastro-pub-but-better menu of Peacock and Jones is a winning combination. Situated inside an historic sandstone warehouse, part of the IXL waterfront precinct, the restaurant and bar has a slick open kitchen at its heart, where young chefs, led by Jeff Workman, can be seen plating intently at the pass or furiously frying at the stove. Pleasing dishes such as Huon Valley pork chops with baby turnips and cumquat and classics such as French onion soufflé populate the menu; it changes seasonally. Peacock and Jones’ other focus is wine, with a list exceeding 60 bottles of mostly Tasmanian drops.
33 Hunter Street, Hobart