Tasmania – Australia’s tiny heart-shaped island at the bottom of the continent, and gateway to Antarctica has a secret. Here, remote and pristine, a foodie’s paradise awaits. So you better visit before the word gets out. There. We told you!
Here are our top ten food experiences – but it’s so hard to choose. As long as you just regard this as a starting point, you won’t go wrong.
Young and funky? Or memories of the Caribbean? Rude Boy will not disappoint. With a selection of well-priced cocktails, and fresh, inventive Caribbean flavours, Rude Boy has found its niche in Hobart and pumps. There are shared platters, great guacamole, crispy croquetas and a raft of tasty, appetizing dishes. These guys really know their stuff, and with Courtney at the stoves, you know you’re in good hands both back of house and front of house. It’s a Kalis Group initiative, and wildly successful. Deservedly so.
If you must source some provisions or carry some delicious treats back home with you, then Wursthaus Kitchen right in Salamanca, just a few steps from the bustling Saturday markets, has the goods. The aromas of cheese, coffee, and delicious breads will hit you as you enter this shop packed to the gunnels with local produce. Fresh walnuts straight from the tree, salads and meals ready to go, cheese from Tasmania and the world, wine from the Derwent and Tamar Valleys, Wursthaus regards their sourcing seriously. You’ll get great, knowledgeable service, and they might even offer you a taste of some delicious cheese or treat on show. It’s that kind of place.
Dinner out? If you’re looking for food that’s exceptional, and modern, then Oskar and Federica in the kitchen at Fico give it to you. A beautiful big space that lets you have privacy like a fine home, Fico delivers a daily degustation menu that will have you coming back again and again. And Again. At $65 a head for seven courses, this is probably the best value in town for top of the line food. It’s exciting, fresh, and thoughtful. Art on a plate. Or slab of marble. Or rocks! It’s art! And the desserts, oh my! They also have a great range of organic wines and serve up delicious cocktails. Choices, choices.
Just a bit further along the docks from The Old Wharf, Frank shows another kind of vibe. Modern, well-designed, and with Argentinian food that leans towards shared plates and cool cocktails, Frank is reliable and can be counted on to give good service, tasty well-cooked food and the views are there as well if you sit at the big bar that stretches across a glass wall dock side. Frank does groups really well, with a cage that separates the centre space, but there are quiet tables for two on the city end if you have a smaller group.
For a room with a view with a great bar at one end and a sunken conversation pit at the other where Austin Powers could have sat, The Old Wharf Restaurant looks out on the Hobart docks and tips its hat to fresh seafood and seafaring history. Part of the new Macq01 Hotel complex, the building hangs over the water and is a masterpiece of architecture. The Federal Group, Tassie’s biggest hospitality company, know their stuff and had a big budget. It shows. The food’s good, so is the service, and the views are knockout.
Sunday isn’t a Sunday without a visit in the morning to the Farmgate Market in Bathurst Street. A block of just picked produce, bread fresh from the oven, and an eat street that will rival any market in the world for quality and flavour, the Farmgate is a must do. And out of all the choices, our current fave is Kylie and Phil’s Wild Thyme Kitchen, where they cook on the spot for you, fresh corn fritters, scallops, pancakes and possibly the best scallop pies in Tassie. Do your produce shopping, talk to the growers and the bakers, and eat food as fresh as you’re ever likely to get.
Feeling like a bit of strong drink to drive the food down? Or something just a little different? Look no further than this funny place between the city and North Hobart that nods to Japan and its gastro pubs. A wonderful selection of sake hangs from the ceiling, the food will get the most sluggish appetite going, and the service is always friendly and quick. The gyoza, or dumplings are fantastic, as is the okonomiyaki or Japanese omelette with fluttering gossamer thin sheets of bonito flakes dancing on top - both are stand outs. Kam pei!
Save room always for Oonagh’s “Provincial style French Pastries and Damn Good Coffee” just down the road in Argyle Street, a few blocks from the center of town. And don’t discount the tiny premises. Oonagh is a top pastry chef (ex-Michelin) who has worked around the world and now chooses to showcase her talents in Hobart.
And what talent that is! The shelves groan with twenty types of deliciousness that will have you struggling to choose from, so you might just have to take some home for later too. There’s always something new to tempt the fussy Hobartians, and if you have to wait for a seat, be patient. It’s worth it.
Brunch is a serious business in Hobart, and Rose, who teaches her Nonna’s pasta recipes in her tiny North Hobart café also dishes up the most delicious Italian inspired food you’ll find anywhere. It’s quirky and crazy possibly as Rose is also an actor. Just ask her to sing, and she’ll belt out “Nessun Dorma” that would rival Pavarotti. Seriously!
You’ll find perfect coffee, omelettes and whatever else Rose feels like whipping up and serving on op-shop china and ‘60s laminex tables. And if you’ve got the time, book her ‘masta pasta classa’ – you’ll have a ball.
You can’t talk about brunch in Hobart without mentioning the big new kid on the block in North Hobart. Owned by Con Vailas, a former MasterChef contestant and Ben Korkmaz who’s transitioned from Bikram Yoga to the madness of a café, they deliver exciting dishes, great coffee, and lots of smiles in a really cool space.
Chef Josh Retzen cooks perfect eggs, pancakes with pizazz and if you’re there for lunch, try the crispy chicken on a brioche bun… or the cuttlefish… or the wallaby… sigh… and some great vegetarian and vegan choices. What’s not to like?