Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Garagistes

January 21, 2012
There have been a bunch of articles published lately about the trendy new Hobart. All of them have mentioned two things: MONA and Garagistes. Having tried and loved the first, we arranged with Liz and Carla to meet up pre-P. J. Harvey to sample the second. Garagistes has imported both its refitted warehouse vibe and its no-bookings policy from the trendier parts of the Melbourne dining scene. We turned up around 6 and had about an hour's wait for a table (for a group of 6), but the Saturday evening of MOFO is probably among their busiest nights, so it may not always take quite so long. Given the buzz, the fit-out is surprisingly spacious - it's mostly big communal tables but you don't feel jammed in or overpowered by noise, which gives it a big tick straight away.

The menu, which proudly proclaims their focus on local ingredients, is not amazingly veg-friendly at first glance. There's 3 sharing dishes and a little starter to choose from - the wait-staff were pretty helpful though, happily making suggestions and offering to change dishes around for us (Carla will have some comments on their vegan-friendliness, from where I was sitting they did an okay but not amazing job).

We started with the obligatory bread with deliciously smoky butter. So much wonderful butter.

The first of the real dishes was our courgette kromeskis with caper-leaf mayonnaise and fennel salt ($3.5 a pop).

Look how cute they are! They were also super hot - Cindy chomped into hers and managed to burn the roof of her mouth. Once they'd cooled a bit they were wonderful - crispy on the outside, filled with gooey zucchini mush. Yum.

Next up was the wood-grilled reine de france lettuce hearts with soaked currents and puffed spelt ($14).

I liked the idea of this dish - the grilled edges giving a nice charred flavour to the lettuce, while the puffed spelt and currents provide a bit of sweetness and textural variety. To be honest though, it got a bit much for me by the end - one or two lettuce hearts as a side dish would have been wonderful.

The most visually appealing dish of the day was the carrots - a salad of heirloom carrots, marcona almond and saffron cream with wild olives ($16).

It was also probably my favourite dish - the carrots had been very lightly cooked, meaning that all of their beautiful natural flavours shone through, the creamy sauce provided a bit of fatty depth to the dish and the olives were little bursts of salty goodness.

Our second last savoury dish was the grilled young leek with French beans, nettle sauce, duck egg yolk and toasted quinoa ($18).

This was a nice mix of greenery with a tender leek hidden under it all. The crispy little quinoa pieces were intriguing, and the duck egg yolk was spot on. Not bad at all.

Finally for the evening we had a little twist on one of their dishes, with fennel, lemon and pine-nuts replacing the original sea urchin roe alongside confit kipfler potatoes, pea tendrils and flowers and black egg yolk ($19).

This was another very pretty dish, but it wasn't particularly memorable taste-wise - although that may be related to the number of delicious Moo-Brews I'd made my way through by this stage. The spuds were lightly cooked, and the lemon and fennel gave the dish a nice flavour - the pea tendrils and flowers didn't bring a lot to the table beyond their good looks though. I wonder if this all works a bit better with the original roe included.

Cindy and I were both really keen to sample some of Garagistes desserts, but by the time we'd finished our savouries we were already running late for P.J. Despite the queues that built up around the front of the restaurant during the night, the whole experience at Garagistes was pretty leisurely. You certainly don't get the feeling they're trying to rush you though to get somebody else in. The service on the whole was excellent - happy to split bills and tweak dishes for us and generally being helpful without being intrusive. The food was generally pretty great - lots of fresh veggies served up in imaginative ways. Not all of it was amazing, but it's definitely worth a visit for vegos looking for something a bit fancy (I'd choose it over The Source for example). It's a pity we didn't get to the desserts - a good reason for us to return next time we're in town.

Oh, P. J. Harvey was wonderful, but the venue made seeing her pretty challenging and the crowd decided to chat their way through the whole set, which was kind of a downer.

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Garagistes has been a food blog hit - great reviews from Welcome to Andyville, Hobart Food for Thought (after an initial mixed experience), Saucy Onion, redheadedtravels, bri eats, ...it pleases us, Once a Waitress, The Drill Hall Emporium, Food Trail, That Jess Ho, Concrete Honey, Nellevision, Reminiscence of a Food Tragic, Diary of a Hobart Housewife, Convicted Taste, The view from my porch and Kitchen Confessional. Only Black Garlic has been a bit more equivocal.

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Garagistes
103 Murray Street, Hobart
(03) 6231 0558
Veg snacks $3.50, dishes $14-$19
http://www.garagistes.com.au/

Accessibility: Pretty good - there's a flat entryway and the interior is relatively spacious. Bathrooms are accessible and ordering and payment all happens at the table. Note, however, that most of the tables are a bit higher than usual (see chair heights in top picture).

10 comments:

  1. Those courgette kromeskis have given me an acute case of fried food envy! I've really been enjoying all your Hobart posts, it's giving me plenty of fuel in hopefully planning my own trip there this year, so thank you!

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    1. You're welcome, Hayley! I hope you enjoy Hobart as much as we did.

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  2. Those carrots look like they're straight from a deleted dancing scene fro Fantasia! :D

    Loving these Hobart posts; my uncle and aunt have been asking me to visit for years, hopefully I'll get there again soon :)

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    1. Ha! They are pretty cute. Hannah, you must try to visit them and visit all number of bakeries and cafes while you're at it. ;-)

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  3. Thanks for the review! I'm originally from Hobart and heading down to visit the fam next week. Been meaning to try Garagistes for ages and you've spurred me into action!

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    1. Get to Garagistes as early as you can, Kate, and I'm sure you'll have a lovely time. :-)

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  4. THEY CHATTED THROUGH THE GIG?! What kind of a person chats through a PJ Harvey gig?! Aaaaaahhh.

    I am so devastated she didn't come to Brisbane. So. Devastated. I wonder how she's attracting the chatting crowd now?

    There was a lot of talk on Twitter this morning about smoked butter this morning, and how it's possible.. You guys don't happen to know?

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    1. Mattheworbit - the constant chatter was terrible. Two guys next to Michael droned on and on for the entire set about how terrible the sound was. How would they know, when they didn't shut their mouths for a moment? I guess this is the price one pays for attending a festival gig.

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  5. The lettuce heart dish looks AMAZING!!

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    1. lisa - it looked like it came straight from 101 Cookbooks to our table. :-D

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