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Food and beverage stories

Eating boom is chic, cosmopolitan

Edition 180_Lobster at the Landscape Restaurant

By Graeme Phillips

An article in a recent issue of the national newspaper, The Australian, was headed “God’s work pays off: Tasmania enters a wine boom.”

With almost 80 new restaurants, cafés and bars opening in and around Hobart in the past two years, the article could also have been titled "Hobart enters a restaurant boom.”

Not God’s work of course, but the work of local investors, chefs moving to Hobart from interstate and overseas, soaring tourism numbers and a local population only too happy to give every new venture a go.

More than giving it a go; it seems Hobartians can’t get enough of their food and wine.

In addition to the famed Saturday Salamanca Market, Australia’s largest, there are now farmers markets on Sunday in the CBD, at the Showgrounds, on the MONA estate in Berriedale, at twilight in Lower Sandy Bay and in Kingston, Richmond, Franklin and Cygnet in Hobart's surrounds.

On Friday evenings until the end of April, some two dozen food and wine stalls encircle the fountain in Franklin Square catering to after-work and early-dinner crowds.

On Sundays, food vans offer a wide range of food and wines at the Food Truck Market in Red Square at Macquarie Point, with cold beers very conveniently on tap just a few steps away at the Hobart Brewing Company.

And, of course, 69 stalls enlivened the whole of the Hobart waterfront with food, wine, whisky and rollicking fun at the annual Taste of Tasmania festival.

But it’s the new restaurants that are adding colour and excitement to the Hobart scene.

They range from million-dollar gastrodomes right on the waterfront to smaller, exceptional quality eateries on the corners and up the lanes of the CBD.

In just the past two months, a local operator has returned from years in Melbourne to open Born in Brunswick on the North Hobart restaurant strip.

Almost from day one it was turning over more than 100 covers at breakfast and lunch each day.

Another high-profile Melbourne chef has opened the small Dier Makr to instant critical acclaim, while a Tasmanian/Neapolitan couple — after years of Michelin-starred experience in Europe — has opened the beautiful, white-on-white Fico restaurant in the CBD, to similar immediate approval.

A Greek family has returned to Hobart after seven years in Crete to start what is surely one of the best, most authentic and fun Greek taverns this side of the Peloponnesus.

The plush Henry Jones Art Hotel has opened Landscape Restaurant, one of the most intimate and classically chic dining spaces in the city.

It has exposed timber beams, a collection of strikingly beautiful John Glover landscapes and John Glover Award-winning paintings all spotlit against rustic sandstone walls.

At the heart of the kitchen, there's an adjustable Asador Etxebarri grill fuelled with off-cuts from old port, sherry and bourbon barrels from the Tasmanian Cooper Company.

After seven years as the Executive Chef at MONA’s The Source, Philippe Leban opened his own 32-seat A Tiny Place four months ago.

With stylish period furnishings, interesting knickknacks and fabulous chalk designs on blackboard walls, patterned satin napkins and Laguiole cutlery from France, he’s created the most charmingly elegant café in town.

It's the sort of place that would delight romantic couples and stylishly dressed ladies seeking a morning Parisian-style hot chocolate.

And, after an invasion of American food a few years back with burgers, sliders, slow-cooked briskets and pulled pork everywhere, new establishments are now creating a much more sophisticated and cosmopolitan feel.

There's Syra with its colourful and delicious Middle Eastern fare, Mexican and South American every which way, wonderful Japanese exquisitries at Three Japanese.

Provincial French is uniquely partnered with the only Beatrice Potter garden outside England at Riversdale Estate.

And there's much more to come as investors and builders rush to bring new city hotels on stream.

Image courtesy of the Henry Jones Art Hotel

8 February 2017, Edition 180

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