First look: Aløft, Hobart

Wood ear and shiitake mushroom dumplings

Wood ear and shiitake mushroom dumplings

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country right now: Aløft, Hobart.

It's difficult to believe when you arrive at Aløft that the food could distract from its up-close, attention-demanding water views, but it does happen. What absolutely makes you forget the boats, dolphins and other nautical moments is the kunzea custard paired with roast pork. Kunzea, an Australian native plant, imparts a seductive flavour, at once fragile and strong, savoury and sweet, and it's used brilliantly in this dish. It's a good example of the type of food you'll find on the on-trend menu divided into small, medium and large plates, best shared. Chefs Christian Ryan and Glenn Byrnes work with some of Tasmania's best small growers, including regular Gourmet Traveller contributor Paulette Whitney, who supplies the kunzea.

Many of the complex and interesting flavours they create are inspired by Asian tastes and ingredients but, in the end, the dishes are always unique. The fig-leaf cream with prawns on a turmeric-flavoured wafer almost tastes like something you may have eaten in South East Asia, but it isn't. It's much the same with coffee and condensed milk ice-cream, which channels a Malaysian kopi-tiam yet, at the same time, is a thoroughly modern dessert.

And Aløft has the most Instagram-friendly cutlery we've ever seen (black titanium designed in Copenhagen). They're a one-off - ask the staff for the story - they don't reflect light, so they're perfect in photos, and they, like local potter Ben Richardson's plates, are as beautiful as the rest of the elegant, understated room, which happily plays second fiddle to the Derwent River and Hobart's harbour.

Aløft, Brooke St Pier, Hobart, Tas, (03) 6223 1619. Open  Tues-Sat 6pm-11pm.

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