Whether Dark Mofo has lured you down or you need to fund a fact-finding mission to understand why your friends have been gushing about Tasmania for so long, there are plenty of ways to have memorable mealtimes in Hobart.
Any time you open a menu here, it ends up being a map of the state’s unique flavours. Instead of co-ordinates and road directions, what unfolds is a vivid list of produce from various corners of Tasmania. There’s cheese crafted from Pyengana Dairy, or organic cider pressed from apples in the Huon Valley. Your order might list Tongola goat’s curd, Cradoc Hill bratwurst, Heidi Farm raclette, Cape Grim hanger steak or Pirates Bay octopus. Bruny Island Cheese Company stages such an extensive takeover of so many menus that Will wonders if it’s a conspiracy. (It’s not, it’s just that the cheese is really, really good.)
Even though our trip was a little while back, with Dark Mofo’s upcoming festival drawing a lot of attention to Tasmania – I thought it’d be a nice excuse to revisit some of the places that made us glad we were hungry in Hobart.
Not just because all our friends directed us here or the fact that it’s tallied up quite a list of international acclaim, but also ‘cos I was able to order Gingerbread for breakfast (with mulled pears, honey, walnut & Tongola goat’s curd). Will’s Croque Monsieur was pretty damn good, too. If we weren’t hopeless tourists with no access to a pantry, I would’ve loved to have walked out with some of Pigeon Hole’s rustic loaves under my arm, too.
Property of: Pilgrim
Me trying to explain the different branches of the Pilgrim Coffee/Property of: Pilgrim family would be a bit like me struggling to talk you through the Targaryen dynasty on Game of Thrones (OK, so maybe it’s not that convoluted and obscure!), but what I can tell you is that we had breakfast at Property of: Pilgrim and really loved it. When we were there, they served complimentary popcorn dusted with chipotle, brown sugar and cinnamon – and that alone was pretty great.
By the way, Pilgrim has a new sibling – the Bright Eyes espresso bar recently opened on Brooke Street Pier.
Property of: Pilgrim, 52 Liverpool Street, Hobart TAS. Follow Property of: Pilgrim on Facebook.
Levins told us that the best meal he had in Hobart was at Farmgate Markets, so we knew we had to detour there. He name-checked Masaaki’s Sushi stand (“the best sushi – even the inari is top notch”) and pointed out it is definitely worth the wait (and yes, it can be a patience-testing wait) to order the rolls that are hand-made by Masaaki from scratch. It’s a good chance to talk to the sushi master – he might give you a 101 on the Tasmanian wasabi that he uses (which, unlike the sinus-clearing blasts that you usually get in packets, is mild and nuanced – and delivers a playful right hook to your senses at the end). Levins told us to look out for “an amazing bakery that does salted caramel and apple pies and ridiculously good cookies”, which we couldn’t find. But we were happy with gingerbread donuts, beetroot & feta bagels and fresh-squeezed strawberry & apple juice; plus Will remembers an all-time great bacon & egg roll, too.
Farmgate Markets (Sundays only), 108 Bathurst Street, Hobart TAS 7000 (03) 6234 5625, farmgatemarket.com.au.
Bruny Island Cheese Company, Bruny Island
What people told us about Bruny Island started to become outrageously fairytale-ish as time went on (we were pretty much expecting a grand procession of sea creatures to follow the ferry, like some Secret Service security detail – judging from the picturebook-style fantasies people told us). We didn’t see dolphins swimming alongside us – or any wildlife, in fact – but (in the small amount of time we had on the island), we very much enjoyed our trip to Bruny Island Cheese Company’s outlet. If you’re lucky, your arrival there will coincide with one of the cheese tastings and you’ll quickly discover which wheels and creations you’re a fan of. I quickly became a convert to the raw milk C2, Tom and the fresh marinated ODO.
And to compensate for all the cheeses we couldn’t smuggle back, we also stocked up on lots of pantry-friendly items from Tasmania (honey; strawberry cordial; roast pumpkin chutney and other items that could hold their own on a cheese plate).
Note: if you’re planning to go, you need a lot more time than you think (even though we were 45 minutes early for the ferry back, there were so many cars queued up in front of us already that we thought we’d miss the ferry cut-off entirely; so we spent the entire time nightmarishly composing math equations of how many vehicles could be squeezed onto that vessel and whether we could possibly fit; and if not, how disastrously late we’d be for our dinner booking).
And if you want to get your Bruny Island Cheese Company fix without the panicky ferry situation, you can order online and have everything delivered to your doorstep for a not-too-bad price (I got something for friends and paid $16 shipping for two cheeses and two condiments.)
Bruny Island Cheese Company, 1807 Main Road, Great Bay, Bruny Island TAS, brunyislandcheese.com.au.
I probably don’t need to talk up Franklin, as David Moyle’s restaurant already comes pre-packaged with intense praise and gold-plated acclaim (sample point: Terry Durack placing it on his list of the 12 best restaurants in Australia). Two extra recommendations, though – play the long game and draft in ample room for desserts (Lemonpi forewarned me that they would be “incredible”); even something as disarmingly simple as goat’s curd with roasted strawberries has the power to throw you off-axis. And with the menu’s emphasis on wood-roasted meat and fish, you may want to flag your vegetarian status when booking (upside: the options are really inspired; I got to try ultra-memorable dishes, such as Celeriac and Nettle Rice and Nasturtium & Braised Radish).
Oh and if you’re around during the daytime, it’s worth picking up something from Pigeon Whole Bakers next door, too.
Franklin, 30 Argyle Street, Hobart TAS, franklinhobart.com.au.
If you’re going to cheat on Mary’s, then The Standard is not a bad place to do so. Recently, the alleyway burger joint channelled Walter White with its Heisenburger, Bacon Bad and Los Pollos Hermanos options. If sitting near a car park to scoff takeaway fries and burgers is not quite your thing (but c’mon, how could it not be your thing!?), then you’d be happy to know The Standard is in the process of adding a bar very close by, with an extended menu and proper wine list. (The Standard is also brought to you by the Pilgrim Coffee/Property of: Pilgrim crew – so hey, maybe I might be able to explain the Targaryen family tree to you, after all)!
The Standard, Hudson Lane, Liverpool Street, Hobart TAS (03) 6234 1888. Follow The Standard on Facebook.
We also sunk some brews at Pollen Tea Room, picked up chocolates at The Cat’s Tongue in Huonville, and further afield, eyed off cool stuff at The Drill Hall for the imaginary estates we’ll never own and tried not to spend too much on stationery at Flywheel (both in New Norfolk).
Back in Hobart, a dude at Small Fry pretty much laughed me out for not knowing the prime time for buying donuts there (the answer: yesterday, basically, and earlier than you thought). I remember saying, “we’ll come back on Monday” and his punchline was: we don’t even sell donuts on Monday. I think I had some cinnamon scroll in the car afterwards and remember rage-eating it and wishing I had a time machine. I guess I’ll have to get there fiendishly early to land the Tiramisu, Milo and Apple Crumble donuts next time.
There was also a long list of places we hoped to try, but we just ended up defeated by the clock (sorry Tricycle, Sweet Envy, Frank, etc etc), and of course MONA was the category-killing museum that you expect to be.
And everyone who tells you the Alabama Hotel is awesome is spot on; and the fact that you can pay as little as $80 for two is pretty astounding. It’s in the nerve centre of Hobart, too – an easy walking distance from everywhere we wanted to go. If we hadn’t ventured on a few day trips, we would’ve felt like total geese for even bothering to hire a car.
Our Hobart hit list was shaped by the advice of many great friends (Levins, Marc Brandon, Lemonpi to name a few), plus Mel Leong’s Erudite Guide to Hobart and Southern Tasmania (which you can buy online here or track down here).