Hobart has some fantastic art deco buildings, including the Mercury newspaper building and Council House. The streets of central Hobart seem deserted at night but even on a Monday night the various fish and chip punts floating in the harbour are busy. We had good fish and chips at Mako. Thanks to local bloggers Rita and Andrew for helping us avoid harbour seafood restaurant tourist traps like Mures and the Drunken Admiral.
We stayed at Hotel Collins and were very impressed by how helpful and friendly the staff were. When we arrived our room seemed to be in a wifi deadzone. I said to the staff that I could see 2 networks but could not get data from them, and they quickly restarted the wifi repeaters to fix the problem. It’s comfortable and quiet and close to the harbour and the museum.
The Lark whiskey distillery bar closes at 6pm (except on Friday nights). We were there doing a tasting about 5pm and a local chatted to us at the bar. He told us that he had finished work at 9am and had been at the bar since then. This is a town where you’re apparently encouraged to drink early and hard. He looked exactly like the man in this painting we saw the next day in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery: tiny round glasses and a long flowing greying beard.
Tavern portrait: the miser by William Buelow Gould, oil on panel, c1830
In addition to Pilgrim and Pigeon Hole cafes (which I have reviewed separately), I also had good coffee at Ginger Brown in South Hobart and Parklane Espresso in Salamanca Square. Thumbs down to the service at Smolt in Salamanca Square though. We entered and were completely ignored by the staff for several minutes so we walked out and got fantastic coffee at Parklane instead (see Tailored Tasmania for a more detailed review).
Visiting from Monday to Wednesday meant dining at the most proclaimed restaurant in town, Garagistes (and its associated bar Sidecar), was not possible. We were fortunate however to realise that what seemed to be the second most highly regarded restaurant, Ethos, was open on Tuesday night, so dinner was booked.
Dinner at Ethos was outstanding (there’s no photos as I didn’t want to use flash in the lowish light). They offer a 6 ($68) or 8 ($88) course degustation (or $170 with matching wines). There’s no menu. They bring you a list of ingredients and ask if any need to be excluded due to allergies or dislikes, then make the dishes based on what you like and what is fresh in the kitchen.
We chose to have the 8 courses with wine, and were served some amazing dishes: house made bread and wonderful cultured butter, an amuse-bouche of chicken rillette, then oysters, then porchetta and salsa verde, then eggplant puree and Japanese style cucumber, then radish with beetroot and labneh, then grilled angus beef with chimmi churri, then potatoes, then roasted goat with eggplant and carrots, then finally dessert.
The matched wines were diverse and extremely impressive in their quality and the suitability of the food matches. The foreign wines included the 2009 Jacques Puffenay Arbois (Jura, France) and the 2007 Vadio DOC (Bairrada, Portugal, the grape variety is Baga). Victorian wines I was already familiar with were the 2012 Box Grove Vermentino (Tahbilk) and the lovely 2009 Best’s Great Western Young Vine Pinot Meunier (a new favourite available from Bottega Tasca on Lygon St).
The local wines were the most exciting. The 2007 Clarence House Estate Tempranillo from the Coal River Valley was soft and luscious, and the 2012 Springvale Louisa dessert Gewurztraminer from Freycinet was sublime. I’m planning to order some of both. Finally, cider. The Captain Blighs Dry Apple cider from the Huon Valley is simply the best I’ve tasted, like apple champagne. They list only local suppliers on their website but I’m going to ask them if they have any Victorian distribution.
Ethos has been reviewed by Hobart local Andrew and Victorians Where’s the beef? and Chommery. The service was also extremely good. So don’t worry if you can’t get into Garagistes because Ethos is spectacular.
I’ve got one more Hobart post to come – MONA.