The Queen’s Birthday public holiday saw Haz and me hitting up Hobart for a bit of long weekend fun times.
We flew into Hobart on a Saturday morning (with the husbands of course) and after leaving luggage at our hotel, proceeded to walk the entire length of the town in search of a particular cafe. All that walking, and the cafe turned out to be not so good. Thankfully Hobart is small and it doesn’t take long to walk from one end to another.
After breakfast we wandered Salamanca Market, resisting the urge to buy overpriced “vintage” cutlery and expensive wood blocks (well, I resisted anyway…).
Garagistes must be Hobart’s most well known and possibly best restaurant. The restaurant used to be a car rental garage and has been revamped into an airy room with an open kitchen, exposed timber beams, grey brick walls, shared tables and high stools. There’s also a peek at hanging charcuterie via a window view to a room at the back.
As the restaurant doesn’t take bookings, we arrived around 6pm – pretty early for dinner, right? Err, no. Unfortunately, this was a bit too late – Garagistes opens at 5pm and possibly due to the long weekend, there was quite the wait for a table. 2.5 hours wait, in fact. We went next door for a drink and a snack and waited for a phone call.
Close to 9pm we were seated and had a look at the food options. There are two options at Garagistes – a 3 course meal ($55 pp) and a 5 course meal ($85 pp). Naturally we decided on the 5 courses.
Before we started on the courses, a small snack was bought out – egg yolk, sea blight, leek ash, oyster, puffed brown rice. It was a interesting start with lots of contrasts between things: textures / flavours / temperature. Creamy oyster but very salty sea blight, crunchy puffy rice but a cool gooey egg yolk and warm cream. Interesting.
1: periwinkles, ham hock bouillon. smoked eel, sea herbs, oca root
Our first course was a ham hock broth with periwinkles, a small piece of smoked eel, crunchy oca root and salty sea herbs. Another interesting dish – there was a lot of little elements, and the flavours of the broth and other ingredients were mostly fairly subtle. I dunno, it was interesting…
2: octopus cooked over coals, stinging nettle sauce, heirloom radish, + lebanese cress.
This was possibly the most attractive dish plating wise, but it didn’t excite me at all (I actually wrote this in my notes: didn’t excite me). There was a slight smokiness in the octopus which was nice, and while I don’t generally have great love for radishes, I didn’t mind them here. However I just didn’t feel like anything pulled the dish together. Everything seemed quite separate – and nettle sauce, radish and cress aren’t terribly exciting on their own.
3: baked potato purée, prune essence, dried olive, garagistes plum kernel oil, black garlic
Hooray! This I did love. The baked potato puree was the smoothest of the smooth, and the creaminess went so well with the sweet but tangy prune essence and plum oil. The little dusting of dried olive and black garlic gave welcome little bursts of flavour.
4: Flinders Island milk-fed lamb, turnips, cimi de rapa + fresh curd
The lamb was really tender, but most interesting in this dish was the cold fresh curd. The texture was very slippery and silky, and it had the most incredible fresh milk flavour to it.
5: parsnip burnt cream, walnut ice cream, salted walnuts, dried blackberry + saltbush
And then dessert. This wasn’t a dessert for people who are really into sweet foods – it’s definitely the kind of thing that appeals to more savoury palates. The walnut ice cream was subtly nutty, and topped with parsnip crisps and dried blackberries and saltbush leaves for crunch.
I thought dinner was okay – I know I said interesting a lot, which means – there were aspects that I found technically appealing, or visually appealing, or just “interesting” in general, but it didn’t really make me think “delicious”.
The only thing I loved was the potato course, so there’s definitely evidence that the food can be wow worthy. For some reason I just didn’t warm to the other courses as much. Not that I disliked anything – I’m more neutral – the other courses were just “okay”.
I do think it’s worth a visit, but I wouldn’t return to Hobart just to dine there (I would return to Hobart to visit Mona again though).
103 Murray Street
Phone: 03 6231 0558
Web : garagistes.com.au