Sunday, August 19, 2007

August 17, 2007: Something old and something new in Hobart

First, something new: Machine Laundry. As the name indicates, this is a laundromat. But it's also a brightly decorated, retro-fitted cafe where hipsters with angular haircuts serve breakfast and lunch. There are the usual breakfast suspects, but also a substantial number of off-beat vege-friendly dishes: savoury muffins and pancakes, fruits poached in vanilla, and below the DIY eggs and toast list, this message: "Don't want eggs? You can order any combo of sides". Could anything make me feel more at home here? (Answer: perhaps my own new angular and slightly pretentious haircut.) I was determined to eat lightly and a little more healthily, choosing the "machine-made granola" ($9, rolled grains toasted with slivered almonds & honey, topped with banana and yoghurt). Unfortunately it let me down, more chewy than crunchy, with too much honey and not enough fruit for my taste. Michael fared much better with the impressive "machine-packed roti bread" ($11.50), stuffed with scrambled eggs and served with chilli jam.

After an aborted attempt at visiting Mt Field, we spent the bulk of the day on the Peppermint Bay Cruise. It was all rather passive and the souvenir stop in Woodbridge was a bit of a "swank wank" (as Michael described it), but this was outweighed by the lovely vegetarian packed lunch they provided, the environmental knowledge of our guide, and most of all by the sighting of a white-bellied sea eagle, with its incredible wingspan and smooth plucking of a fish from the Derwent River.

Something old came in the form of a repeat visit to Sirens for dinner. Michael's sweet potato tamale of black eyed beans with coconut cream, apricot chutney and star fruit salad ($18) couldn't trump his blue cheese lasagna, but still went down well. Determined to save room for dessert, I chose the honey brown mushroom soup ($8) and a side of garlic lemon spinach ($6). The soup was deep in flavour, mercifully modest in size and set off with a couple of cheesy croutons; the spinach had a great tang.

For dessert, Michael waited the requisite 20 minutes for a freshly steamed warm apple and walnut torte with vanilla anglaise and mulled wine icecream ($11). The icecream that so intrigued him was only subtly flavoured but complemented the torte well - all up it was worth the wait. My choice proved to be a very adult deconstruction of a Golden Rough: a dense, buttery dark chocolate mousse with a cashew crust, served on a carpet of toasted coconut shards with rum sherbet and bittersweet chocolate chunks on the side ($10). Best. Vegan. Dessert. EVER. I would almost recommend you fly to Hobart from wherever you live just to order this dessert! Sirens truly delighted us from the first mouthful to the last.


  1. Yay! I'm going to Hobart in a couple of weeks for a 3 day weekend. So far most of the places you have talked about are on my to try list. Were you there on a sunday? Was anything open?

    Can't wait to try to the vegan dessert!

  2. your description of the desserts make me wish i can fly there now =)

  3. Kristy, I hope you enjoy Sirens as much as we did!

    Funny you should ask about Sundays - I walked into the city centre last Sunday, hoping to visit Shu Yuan, and almost everything was closed - I struggled to find *any* cafe to serve me lunch. I think Salamanca Place had a bit more going on.

    Ironeaters, perhaps you can console yourself with a visit to Koko Black...? ;-)