From Hobart's Elizabeth St you can glimpse Ethos Eat Drink's cute courtyard through a passageway. Sometimes there's a menu on display, sometimes not. Last year we noticed the restaurant but didn't visit - the dinner menu looked expensive and not especially veg-friendly, and we couldn't attract any service at breakfast time. This year our local friend-in-the-know Liz offered to book us in for a banquet so we figured we'd give it a shot.
The Ethos ethos is all about minimising impact - they've fitted out a historic building with salvaged and recycled accoutrements and an energy-efficient kitchen; they concentrate on local consumables.
I particularly appreciated the substantive menu of non-alcoholic drinks, which included house-made lemonade, cola, ginger beer and other cordials ($4-5.50 per glass). The elderflower and lilly pilly drinks were both light, sweet and refreshing.
We got started with crusty bread, butter (for the non-vegans) and salt.
The olives and cornichons were cute and not too briny, though perhaps upstaged by the crunchy-fried chilli-salted chickpeas.
Tempura spring onions looked a little bedraggled and were hard to share, but the crunchy gluten-free batter won me over.
Of their three ways with zucchini, I most liked the caramelised (roasted?) one.
The green salad included more purslane, and a surprising dose of salt.
Us vegetarians were served haloumi, and we were compelled to share some of it with the envious omnivores across the table.
Beans came scattered with more salty hard cheese.
The sriracha-dressed gai lan might have been our favourite dish, so fragrant and spicy.
The vegetarian savoury dishes culminated in a perplexing mix of tender carrots in a tea-infused butter, scattered with nori and walnuts.
For dessert we shared blueberry sorbet, stewed rhubarb and fresh berries, covered in a silky, warmly spiced pepper leaf custard.
We had little sense of the meal's structure in advance but happily grazed for several hours. Staff were cheerful and very accommodating, planning a feast to suit a mixed group of omnivores, vegetarians and vegans plus an overstimulated baby. (There was plenty of room for the little one's pram, high-chair and other gear too.) I liked the atmosphere - it's a little fancy but not at all stuffy.
Though the level of expense and locovore sensibility are comparable to Garagistes, our Ethos experience was very different. It seemed a place to laugh and spill a little wine with friends, rather than guffaw over the modern art plated before you. Nevertheless, veg*ns and others with special dietary requirements are probably best off shelving the spontaneity, making a reservation and giving the kitchen their best chance to feed everyone well.
Ethos has been well received by bloggers, see the twigs, Rita's Bite, May Day for Food, A Foodie's night out :), Life As A Bird Florist, eat drink dream, whereiatelastnight, Food, fullstop., Macaron Madness, The Chommery, Too Many Pies, Esme and the Laneway and Elspeth Callender.
Ethos Eat Drink
100 Elizabeth St, Hobart
veg banquet $65pp
Accessibility: Looks great to my eyes - flat all the way through with relatively spacious tables and full table service. There's a disability-access toilet (although it's towards the back and they've crammed a table too close to it) and all toilets are unisex.
Sculpture at MONA FOMA wharf
The joyous Mahmoud Ahmed & co.
We were too old for Death Grips.