If you live on the Australian mainland, there’s a good chance Hobart isn’t on your foodie radar. It’s a city that’s continually underestimated, except by those lucky enough to visit. The Tasmanian food scene has gone from strength to strength in recent years, with leatherwood honey, Bruny Island oysters and Sullivan’s Cove whisky all making waves on the national and international scene. So if you’re a fine produce enthusiast or just a thirsty oenophile looking for that perfect pinot, you should probably book a one-way ticket to Hobart. From fine dining to cheap eats, here’s a foodie guide to the coolest city on the Apple Isle.
If you’re in Hobart over a weekend, adding the Salamanca Markets to your food itinerary is a no-brainer. On Saturdays from 8:30am until 3pm, well over a hundred artisans, farmers and fine food providores take to the street along Salamanca Place to sell their wares. If you don’t have much time to spend in Hobart, this is where you can sample some of the best locally made products from all over Tasmania. Think speciality cheeses, condiments, spirits, wine, chocolates and more. My recommendation? Check out the Tasmania Chilli Beer Co, a boutique micro-brewery that infuses chilli into their brews, adding to the overall taste rather than spicing it up. If you’re not a beer drinker, they also have non-alcoholic versions of their ginger beer and a chilli raspberry concoction you’ve simply got to try. Not yet importing to the ‘mainland’, Tassie is the only place you can enjoy this treat.
Farm Gate Market
The Farm Gate Market (open Sundays) is a smaller but worthwhile farmer’s market with a decent range of boutique suppliers and fresh eats. You’ll find it in a car park on Melville Street from 9am until about 1pm, crammed with stallholders selling dozens of dishes, including the signature local dish, scallop pie, made from fresh Tassie Bass Strait scallops with a creamy curry-ish sauce all wrapped up in a buttery, flaky pastry. There are also huge cheese wheels, fresh honey, pastries, and plenty of fruit and veggies. If you’re heading to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) gather up some picnic supplies at the markets (or any nearby grocery outlet – most of them have a local food section) and enjoy a picnic on the grass near the coast. MONA also has a café, fine dining restaurant and the Moorilla winery with cellar door, a great spot if you love your small batch wines. Moo Brew, MONA’s popular beer, is also available for tastings and brewery tours too.
However, no matter which day you arrive, there’s no better way to start your foodie adventure than a leisurely breakfast. Hobart’s Salamanca Wharf Café is certainly one of the better breakfast spots around. Located on Castray Esplanade, the menu serves up some great fare including the obligatory smashed avocado and Bircher muesli, but also fresh twists like breakfast salads with quinoa, lentils, herbs, poached eggs and avocado.
Just outside Hobart you’ll also find a rise in production of small batch spirits and we couldn’t go passed McHenry Distillery who is certainly assisting in the resurgence of gin as the drink of choice. In particular, their sloe gin is one we couldn’t pass up. A tip direct from the distillery is to try it on vanilla ice cream- bliss!
If whiskey is your thing, Tasmania is quickly becoming Australia’s go-to destination for whiskey lovers and Lark Distillery’s cellar door located near Hobart’s waterfront (on Davey Street) is the perfect pace to sample away with more than 100 whiskies available. You can try them by the shot, or the half shot.
Dining and sweet treats
One thing Hobart certainly does well is surprises, and the dining scene here really is charming. There are fine dining restaurants like The Glass House on the end of Brooke Street Pier, with its floating elegance and amazing water views, all the way to the quirky Machine Laundry Café, a trendy favourite with the Hobart hipster crowd. It’s a spot where you can expect to nab a solid brunch and get your washing sorted all in the one spot.
Perhaps one of Hobart’s sweetest surprises though is French patisserie Sweet Envy led by Tasmanian-born pastry chef Alistair Wise, a graduate of Gordon Ramsay’s culinary empire. Sweet Envy offers up some quirky and tasty creations such as the RoVo, a deconstructed raspberry VoVo, as well as ice creams, desserts and sugary stuff you’ll swoon over. Wise’s creations are fun and playful, there’s no pretension here like you get with some patisseries.
But above all, what Hobart (and honestly all of Tasmania) does the best, is fresh food. Any town you stop in you’re certain to find a huge selection of fresh produce, seafood and a small town hospitality that’s almost been forgotten in the big cities on the mainland. If you’re heading to Hobart, bring an appetite. You won’t be disappointed.
Want to taste the best of Tasmania? Check out our small group adventures on the Apple Isle.
Feature image c/o Tourism Tasmania