Saturday, March 10, 2012

Garagistes - Hobart, Tasmania

103 Murray Street, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (03) 6231 0558
Open for dinner Wed to Sat from 5pm (no reservations) and Sun 4 course lunch (reservations essential)

I love eating out with people who eat dessert.  A table for three and three desserts on the table is a pleasant sight.  It means that everyone is ending on a sweet note and also that you don’t have to share.  Combine that with the fact that there are only three desserts available on the menu and that means you are ordering EVERY DESSERT THEY HAVE.

Kidding about the sharing thing.  I am kind of forced into sharing my dessert when I get a look at the other two plates put down in front of us.  I can’t really steal from their plates without offering some of my own.  Well I could but we’re all sharing an apartment for the weekend so it would make things a little tense.

We’re eating in Garagistes (garage-easts is how I’ve been pronouncing it.) on a short visit to Hobart.  We got there about 7pm to be told that “realistically” there would be a two hour wait for a table. After a sneaky peek at some of the food being served we left our details and said we’d be back around 9.

Two hours to kill and it’s Saturday night in Hobart.  It’s 7pm.  The streets are almost completely deserted and pretty much everything is shut.  I’m sure that there is some cool bar or pub just a street or two away but after a few minutes of bumbling around empty streets we end up being fantastically adventurous, head to the supermarket for some makeshift appetizers for the ladies, some beers for me.  Then it’s back to the motel.

So a couple of hours/beers and a phone call  later we wind our way back to Garagistes.  The wait staff remember us and we are promptly shown to our table.  The tables are all long, communal affairs – wooden tops but tall and wide and starkly modern .  The restaurant itself is one large high-ceilinged room with an open kitchen.  The lighting is subdued but not so much that you can’t see your meal or that uberjoi can’t take some nice photos. A modernist Viking beer hall. It’s an impressive room that begins to let you in on the fact that there really are some awesome reasons to live in Hobart.

Due to our supermarket stop during the two hour layover we weren’t quite as hungry as we perhaps should have been.  Luckily we had summoned some restraint and the menu was appetizing enough to get us properly in the mood.  Also there was a Lark distillery whiskey and a carafe of red wine on the way so... that was going to help.

The wagyu tongue was an easy pick so one each of those – they came served yakitori style.  Yakitori is pretty much my favorite thing in the world so to serve it like this is to raise my expectations.  It was good but yakitori should be nothing less than awesome.  My first time in Kyoto (eating grilled chicken skin, liver and thigh while happily drinking ice-cold overpriced beer in a cozy wooden bar, listening to the rain outside) is what I’m comparing it to and you can’t really compete with a romanticized memory so they had little hope to begin with.  In short they were very tender and came served with some specks of fresh wasabi, which they apparently grow on the island.  Nice.

Our smaller appetites just meant that we were that much more direct when it came to ordering our next dishes.  We only had one shot each, so it had to count.  Smoked Eel, Spanner Crab Chawan-Mushi and Blood Pudding.  I chose the Eel and I guess if there was a losing dish, that was it.  There wasn’t really a smoked flavour to the fish.  The quail eggs looked pretty but didn’t really do much else and overall it was a bit lacking.  The Chawan-Mushi with the dashi poached onion was great.  Gyudon is a fast-food favorite in Japan and the sweet onion flavour definitely reminded me of that.  It worked really well with the egg custard.  The crispy blood pudding had a great texture – more like squares of sausage filling than the jelly style blood pudding you would get at yum cha.  We would have tried the lamb ribs next if there hadn’t been three of us and three desserts.

The desserts arrived at the table and I instantly knew we had chosen correctly with our decision to order everything that they had. Possibly the alcohol had by this point affected my judgment slightly but for me the desserts were undoubtedly the highlight of this meal. My dining companions seemed to agree so  it wasn’t only the alcohol talking.

Why were the desserts so great?  There were so many different elements on the plates and they each worked alone as well as together – delicate house made ice cream and a frozen meringue that disappeared as you ate it, the burnt cream (which I loved but companions J and G found too rich).  The buckwheat praline on the parfait was really crunchy and not overly sweet.  There was so much effort and technique in each part of these desserts and they totally paid off.

So this was in all a great meal for a great weekend away.  Perfect companions politely ignoring the drunken gusto I displayed for the dessert course.  Hobart has a lot to offer and although it seemed (to me) quite dead on a Saturday night most of the time I’m dead on Saturday night as well.  The weekend we were there we sampled artisan cheese and fresh oysters on Bruny Island – the dinner described above and lunch at Stackings the next day.  MONA is an experience wholly of itself and really deserved more than the half day we allowed for it. The town has a lot going on and I can’t wait to get back there – even just for dessert. 

wagyu tongue yakiniku, fresh wasabi + shungiku glaze

garagistes smoked eel, quail eggs, white sesame, baby sunrose

chawan-mushi, spanner crab, dashi-poached onions, wakame, sweet burdock

crisp blood pudding, furao + sugar beetroot, blackberry, nashi pear, mustard oil

sour cream + anise hyssop parfait + apricot sorbet, buckwheat praline

lemon verbena ice cream, poached apple, lemon jelly, frozen basil meringue

fruit salad sage burnt cream, lovage cake, golden drop plum, salted walnuts

- words by pisso | images by uberjoi.

Meal style: Dinner of shared plates
Cost: $127.50 total (not including drinks)
Time and date of visit: 9:00pm Saturday 10 March 2012

Garagistes on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures! All those dishes look amazing. I love Japanese food.