We are planning our long weekend in Hobart, Tasmania. “What shall we do on the Sunday?”. “We could rent a car and catch the ferry to Bruny island”. “Or go for a wine tasting drive”. “Maybe go to Port Arthur, get some history”. “How about a long Sunday lunch with the set menu at Garagistes?”. “Perfect, Tasmanian food coma!”
And so we do. Forget sightseeing, I firmly believe the best way to get under the skin of Tasmania is to eat and drink, and right now there is nowhere better to do that than at Garagistes. Chef Luke Burgess, who did a stint at the world’s current no 1 restaurant, Noma, a couple of years ago, and his partners, have turned an old auto garage into a cool industrial dining and bar space. All black, brick and industrial, matched with sensuous pottery plates and bowls in all shades of grey scattered over large communal tables, Garagistes have been earning praise for their food and wine ever since they opened. The wine list is mainly natural biodynamic wines, and the food philosophy is cooking seasonally with local produce. The outcome is reputedly some of the most exciting food being served in Australia, and we want to sample it. There’s also a no booking policy, except for their renowned Sunday lunch.
A quick 15 minute stroll from Salamanca Place and we are pushing open the large heavy stylish steel door and are seated at one of the communal tables, with an aircraft engine sized heater located not too far away from us, keeping the Hobart winter chill away. Over the next three and a half hours, the following six courses, plus the warmth of service, kept us delighted, amused and satiated.
- Tea brined quails eggs, tonnato and heirloom radishes – the tonnato was a splendid mayonnaise enriched with fatty tuna belly.
- Chargrilled leek, horseradish curd, bay oil, truffled egg yolk, land cress and saltbush – I was delighted to find a dish making leeks the hero!
- Poached striped trumpeter, almond cream, toasted rice, chickweed, duck bouillon – a feast of strong creamy flavours
- Roasted onglet, smoked beetroot puree, roast celeriac, pickled onion, bone marrow – melt in the mouth richness, except the celeriac – it had been roasted in salt and was way too salty for my liking.
- Garagistes washed rind cheese – perfectly ripe and runny
- Pannacotta tradizionale, whey caramel, hazelnut, puffed buckwheat – sublime cream and crunch mix.