Saturday, January 26, 2013

Garagistes II

April, 2015: Garagistes has closed down. 

January 16, 2013

After getting MOFO started with Los Coronas, Cindy and I snuck away before the opening night party really heated up to try our luck at Garagistes. We went early last year and still had an hour to wait (there are no bookings, naturally), so I wasn't feeling very optimistic when we wandered up at 7:40pm. But stunningly (as with Cumulus a few days earlier) we were seated immediately!

The recent fires in Tassie had affected quite a few of Garagistes suppliers, so the a la carte options from last year had been replaced with fairly inflexible 3- or 5-course set menus. We called ahead and were assured that they had a vegetarian version although after a quick chat with staff on the night, it was clear that they really weren't going to be able to cater for vegans (this may change as things return to normal though, so if you're a vegan feeling like a fancy meal I'd give them a call and double-check).

The fit-out hasn't changed since our last visit - it's the same trendy industrial interior, with exposed beams and big communal benches (I heard someone down the table whose friends weren't sure that it was finished). The staff were the perfect balance of friendly and unobtrusive, although things were a bit slow at the start during what was probably their busiest twenty minutes. Still, they sorted us out with wine and vego menus and left us to ponder. It was a pretty simple choice: 3 or 5 courses ($50 or $75), and naturally we embraced our holiday gluttony and went with the longer one.

Before the meal proper was underway we were served these little parmesan bites (with onion cream and dried sea lettuce) and some lovely bread with olive oil for dunking.

Dried sea lettuce is a cool-sounding ingredient, but it was too subtle for my tastebuds - lucky for me that parmesan and onion cream are so delicious.

The first real dish was the glazed heirloom carrots with burnt eggplant, hazelnuts and grains.

In presentation, this was very reminiscent of the carrot dish we has last time, although the actual flavours were pretty different. This was all about the smoky burnt eggplant, the few remnants of which I ended up scooping up with my fingers. Because I know how to behave in fine-dining establishments. Once again, the heirloom carrots were probably the savoury highlight of the meal.

Next up were the sugarsnap peas, yoghurt curd, lovage, sunrose and purslane.

This dish was on the meaty menu as well, and fits right into the Garagistes local/foraged ingredient philosophy - purslane apparently grows in backyards around Hobart. Weed or otherwise, it's a thick and surprisingly juicy succulent, which was actually really fun to eat. The peas were fresh and sweet, with a mild curd adding a bit depth and some texture coming from the crumbly parmesan-flavoured pastry shards scattered on top.

Our third course was Holy Goat 'la luna' cheese, toasted oat bread, honeycomb, dried leek and caraway seed. This felt weirdly like a course that should sit between sweets and savouries - the transition course that prepares you for dessert. Instead, it came out before the main course.

Regardless, it was outstanding - the cheese in particular was to die for (we shall be purchasing some for our own enjoyment in the not-too-distant future). Salty cheese and sweet, delicious honey are a superb combo, and the slivers of oat bread and dried leeks were nice additions. 

Next came our heartiest dish: oyster mushrooms a la plancha, slow cooked duck eggs, potato mousse and dried olives.

This. Was. Rich. Two incredibly gooey duck eggs, thick potato mousse and some chewy mushrooms and olive crumbs. The duck eggs were a bit much - I'd have happily settled for one and some more mushrooms in place of the second (although to be honest, I did end up eating Cindy's second, so they can't have been that bad). 

After a little break to let everything settle, our dessert came out - we tried to engineer a dessert swap where one of us got the blueberry dish that came with the three-course menu and the other got the regulation option, but Garagistes didn't want to play along so we both got the same dish: cherries, raspberries, fenugreek cream, red currant granita and frozen sable (which is basically shortbread).

The frozen shaved shortbread was fascinating - you could barely touch it before it crumbled away to nothing, but it still somehow provided some shortbready goodness. The berries and granita hidden away under there were excellent as well - light, fresh and tangy. A refreshing end to a pretty impressive meal. 

We were very happy to have another shot at Garagistes - this was probably a more impressive experience than last time (partly because we didn't have to rush off to a gig and skip dessert). It's a shame that they're not really catering for vegans anymore, and the five course vego degustation wasn't balanced as well as it might have been, but the food is still great, the service excellent and the atmosphere top notch. It's definitely worth a stop on any Hobart food tour.


Read about our last visit to Garagistes here (and catch up on Carla's post from the same meal at easy as (vegan) pie). Since then The Airloom, The Gourmet Goddess, Lucy in the Larder, Paw Paw Food and Fika & Kuidaore have loved it, while Hold the Peas were a bit less impressed.


103 Murray Street, Hobart
(03) 6231 0558
veg snacks $3.50, dishes $14-$19

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. Most of the tables are a bit higher than usual, but the one nearest the door is regular height.


  1. You guys are back in Tassie! And for mofo! So jealous :)

    1. Yep, I think MOFO might become an annual tradition. :-)

    2. With two under our belts, I think we've set a good precedent. :-)

  2. Hi Cindy-its the same Hobart anon here again. I have eaten here on many occasions and have come away each time feeling that it just missed the mark. In my opinion, much of the food lacks seasoning. The sliced meats and the bread they bake are outstanding but many of the dishes leave me cold and many arrive cold. The portions are small and sometimes the meat is stringy, undercooked and fatty. The press love it because its brave and different and it is however it just doesn't appeal to me.

    1. Hi again, thanks for your thoughts. :-)

      I found Garagistes to be of a similar standard to the high-end vegetarian meals that we've eaten in Melbourne - it'll excite some folks but not others.