Hobart’s Garagistes Restaurant.

Many words have already been written enthusing the food coming from the kitchen of Garagistes Restaurant, this post is more about the experience. It is an essential destination for those visiting Tasmania seeking a restaurant determined to use the best food ingredients of the region.

Seating is at communal, predominantly high rise tables on low backed stools that encourage you to lean in and quickly forget those beside and around you. Cleverly you are also at eye height to the diligent staff so conversation flows easily each time a plate arrives from the five course menu.

Wine is by the glass (150ml), taste (75ml), carafe (375ml) and the bottle. Don’t look for familiar brands, you won’t find them, and don’t expect a long list of Tasmanian wines. This list acknowledges the predominantly European wine makers crafting wines with wild yeasts and little or no chemical intervention.

A restaurant like Garagistes can be a daunting experience. Do not go if your comfort zone is a menu in three sections offering dishes of three parts vegetable, one part meat. The only choices here are at the second and fourth course. Every dish is a similar size and there is a good chance of dried wild olive being a component of your dessert.

On the other hand you can be seated and simply relax, read the menu or don’t, browse the wine list then push it aside. As water is being poured, take in the surrounds; the walls are free of art, music – I’m not sure there was any, the only window looks into the illuminated meat curing chamber and the kitchen is completely open for all to see.

Know that you are in exceptionally capable hands and leave the decision making to them. Drink wine or sake by the taste and share with your companion. Revel in the non-conformity of this cavernous dining room. Take the later second sitting option if you can.

There is no need to expand upon each and every dish, other than to say the food is created with care and attention seldom seen in Tasmania. It would be worth returning  just for the bread alone. The food we enjoyed is most probably not what next week’s diners will enjoy. Tasmania might be enjoying cult status as a food destination but the reality is less than a handful of people are growing anything beyond the traditional crops. Those that are, are delivering it straight to Garagistes.

I wonder how many people noticed on the night we dined the unassuming waiter with an uncanny knowledge of the menu was in fact the chef and co-owner, Luke Burgess. Garagistes is fine dining but not as you know it.

Dinner for two: set five course menu $90 per person.

Our bill for two including wine: $292

Reservations online two weeks in advance, two seatings early and late: www.garagistes.com.au

103 Murray Street, Hobart.

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