Saturday, December 1, 2012

Review - Garagistes, Hobart

Hi everyone - things have been pretty quiet here over on the Gourmet Goddess page I know - mainly because I have been everything but! I have been cooking pretty simple meals due to being busy, and nothing particularly blog-worthy I'm afraid. In the last two weeks though, I was lucky enough to take two weeks off work and head off with my lovely husband on one of our favourite pastimes - a roadtrip. Well it ended up being two road trips actually - spanning 3 states - NSW, ACT and Tasmania. The first week was spent with a few days in Canberra, and then the Southern Highlands, including the gorgeous Kangaroo Valley. Wow - what a gorgeous part of the world that is.

Week two was a road trip around Tasmania, starting in Hobart, down to Bruny Island - where we indulged in their famous oysters and stunning cheese from The Bruny Island Cheese Company - including the fabulous C2 raw milk cheese that I can't get enough of - across to Strahan on the West Coast, then up to Cradle Mountain, across to St Helens and down the east coast back to Hobart. It was my first visit to Tassie and it won't be the last. From the pristine wilderness to the magnificent wildlife, beautiful seafood from the crystal clean water and unstaffed roadside farm stalls where you choose what you like and put the money in the tin to pay - it is my kind of place. We noticed lots of folks seemed to have solar panels and water tanks and a real focus on sustainability, handmade, local goods (not just food) and awareness of the environment. It was very inspiring to say the least.

One of the major items on my "To Do" list whilst in Tasmania was to pay a visit to a restaurant that I had been reading and hearing a lot about - Garagistes - named after a group of trailblazing winemakers from Bordeaux in France in the 1990's, who created "Vins de Garage" (Garage wine) a new way of producing the traditional Bordeaux wine style. Needless to say, this place has a pretty damned impressive wine list - 42 pages long and beautifully laid out and categorised. As well as great wine options, they also boast an excellent selection of Sake (my favourite) I just loved the Ota Shuzo that I enjoyed with my meal - a fresh, slight aniseed character to it, dry on the palate and served ice cold on what was an unseasonally hot day. Perfect.

The Front Door
Garagistes - Hobart

Garagistes Chef Luke Burgess comes with an excellent pedigree -  including working at Tetsuya’s in Sydney and at Noma in Copenhagen (currently rated the best restaurant in the world) The small, always changing menu is comprised of dishes designed for sharing, using local ingredients and presented in some really inspired and unusual combinations. The restaurant itself is designed around a large warehouse space with an open kitchen and communal dining area. And it's popular. Garagistes does not take reservations, so a sensible option is to do what we did and be there waiting at the door when they open at 5pm (yes, I know that is a time that your Nanna would eat dinner, but we were only in town for a short time and I wasn't going to miss out) Good thing we did, as by about 5.30 the place was packed.

Dining Room - Garagistes

Although the menu is pretty small, it was really, really hard to choose what dishes to have. We did eventually decide on a selection of seven - starting with a swoon worthy trio of steamed Bruny Island oysters that made my eyes roll back in my head they were so salty, creamy and delicious.

Steamed Bruny Island Oyster
Vinegar Emulsion & Bay Oil

We stuck with seafood for the next dish - beautifully poached spanner crab that tasted sweet and succulent, teamed with slightly astringent braised artichoke and almonds. The addition of fenugreek and buttermilk made it aromatic and almost herbal. And as you can see, the presentation made it look like Spring on a plate. A wonderful dish.

Poached Spanner Crab, Fenugreek and Buttermilk
Braised Artichoke and Almond

Fresh young broad beans are one of my favourite vegetables in the world, and the next dish of baby broad beans, pea custard, asparagus and delicate herbs was clean, green and delicious. The super velvety pea custard was such a great contrast to the crunch of the lightly cooked broad beans.

Baby Broad Beans, Pea Custard, Asparagus
Mixed Herbs

After 3 light courses, it was time to move to a couple of more substantial ones - starting with roasted local pinkeye potatoes, served with a super rich and creamy duck egg, creme fraiche and crispy leaves of native saltbush. The addition of a light shaving of Bottarga (salted, cured fish roe) made this one of my favourite dishes of the evening. When you broke the yolk of the duck egg, the soft buttery yolk mixed with all the other ingredients to create a sauce with a knockout flavour and texture. I seriously wanted to lick the plate afterwards!

Roasted New Season Pinkeye Potatoes, Duck Egg
Creme Fraiche, Saltbush and Bottarga

Next came a succulent, juicy piece of slow cooked pork neck - complimented beautifully by braised lettuce stems (a very French way to cook lettuce) and a tangy, zingy mustard emulsion.

Slow Cooked Pork Neck
 Lettuce Stems, Mustard Emulsion

There were two dessert courses listed on the menu and we decided to try both - starting with a cool and very refreshing dish using cucumber, avocado and sorrel. The addition of a creamy fig leaf icecream and a cool granita of cucumber gave this dessert really interesting contrasting textures and flavours - and made it a great palate cleanser after the richness of the pork neck. The dessert was not really sweet - in fact it could easily have fitted in anywhere else in the sequence of dishes.

Fig Leaf Icecream, Sorrel and Angelica Jelly
Avocado Cream & Cucumber

Then it was time for something sweet - wonderful, sticky frozen yoghurt meringue, rhubarb and chewy preserved and dried berries. Add to this a berry granita and fresh young wood sorrel leaves and you have a dessert to die for. The flavours were all so clean and well balanced - and what a luscious looking plate huh?

Frozen Yoghurt Meringue, Rhubarb
Preserved and Dried Berries, Wood Sorrel

I really enjoyed our visit to Garagistes - it was easy to see why there has been such a buzz about it. (Although be warned - it is like a hipster bomb went off in there! Obviously where all the Hobart "edgy-earnest-young-things" in skinny jeans and "ironic" t-shirts get nourishment) But go anyway. The service was low key but professional and the dining room has a nice, relaxed vibe. I would be keen to go back at different times of the year to see what they do with the local seasonal produce, as the menu is always evolving. Really worth checking out if you ever find yourself in Hobart.

Dining Room - Garagistes

To learn more about Garagistes, check out there website.

103 Murray Street Hobart, Tasmania
Ph: (03) 6231 0558
Opening Hours:
Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm
Friday and Saturday from 5pm
No Reservations



  1. Thank you for this review GG - you always make one feel like they were almost there sitting at the table with you sampling these delicious treats

  2. A pleasure Julie - so glad you enjoy it XX