Restaurant Reviews

Tasmania's best restaurants right now

A menu of single nouns, a chef who spotlights wild ingredients, and a restaurant where even the bread is worth writing home about. These are the hottest restaurants off the mainland, according to our 2020 Restaurant Guide.

Fico.
Those who suffer from decision paralysis are well served by the compact, high-ceilinged confines of Dier Makr. The only menu to speak of is a blackboard of single nouns, and the dégustation flows seamlessly – and theatrically – from one course to the next. The night's winning dish, called simply "Beetroot", takes the form of a prawn-cracker-esque beetroot crisp, dotted with a paste of venison and duck and topped with viridian cress. The skill required for such a dish belies its simple presentation – the cracker alone is the result of a process involving juicing, dehydrating, freezing and frying. Courses might be snacky, and encourage the use of your hands: charred kale with XO sauce is to be grasped by the stalks, and a fluttering delight of feathery oyster mushrooms, granules of potato and marigold petals ("Potato") is a little bowl of goodness to cup in your palms to warm them. A larger dish of barramundi arrives with fiery mustard greens and flatbread – make a taco, or mop up the alluring pil-pil sauce. There's no wine list to worry over either; wander into the glassed-in wine room to make your pick, or leave it to the charming waitstaff. If autonomy is more your thing, Dier Makr's front-door bar Lucinda awaits, with stools, snacks and stylish drinking.
123 Collins St, Hobart, Tas, diermakr.com
Dier Makr. Photo: Chris Crerar
There's an expansiveness about Fico (Italian for fig), from the generosity of service and the large shared tables to the breadth of offerings for all hungers and tastes. Each dish is a pleasure for the eyes and the palate, with unexpected – and often delightful – turns a constant. Mention of fennel pollen can signal faddishness, but scepticism is dashed by the craft, texture and flavour of warm brioche topped with Ortiz anchovy and a scatter of the yellow anise-accented dust. And how can a cube of cured kingfish jellied in soy be so entrancing? Italy may be the guiding light for owner-chefs Federica Andrisani and Oskar Rossi, but the influence is wide, and the focus on local ingredients is laser-guided. Grilled Furneaux Islands mutton bird with capers and marjoram is impeccably crisp and opulently oily; pigeon is matched with creamy cauliflower, bitter-rich kale and the piquancy of horseradish. A dessert of honey gelato, meanwhile, sprinkled with hibiscus powder and set atop soft meringue riffs on a bombe Alaska, just without the bombe. Fico is full of flair, and, like its namesake, beautiful to behold and bursting with flavour.
151 Macquarie St, Hobart, Tas, ficofico.net
The interior may be all concrete and sharp corners, but the essence of Franklin couldn't be further from its industrial setting. With specialist local producers on board, eyes peeled for wild ingredients and – among other tools – a woodfired Scotch oven, Analiese Gregory assembles flavours of exquisite delicacy. A single skewer of char-grilled oyster mushrooms dressed with a frothy wakame sabayon lingers memorably, as does a chicken liver parfait sweetened with preserved quince and served on yeast crisps. The juicy pop of pickled currants and the crunch of smoked macadamias roll perfectly against sea-salty, smoky octopus, and a whole flathead built for sharing is served with a wickedly rich sea urchin butter. Sommelier Forbes Appleby's wine list, meanwhile, is as impressive as ever: clear, concise and reliably on the pulse. Gregory's crisp potato with brown butter mousse and salted caramel remains a signature dish with good reason, and neatly encompasses her creative approach driven by flavour and finesse.
30 Argyle St, Hobart, Tas, franklinhobart.com.au
Franklin front bar.
Templo's charred carrots with bagna càuda and almonds represent everything this Hobart destination aims to achieve: contrasting textures and sharp flavours enhancing humble ingredients. Recent years have seen Hobart lift its game but Templo remains as intriguing as ever. Even the bread - scorched sourdough served with olive oil - which doesn't even make it onto the blackboard, leaves a lasting impression. There's more of the crisp, blackened toast as a base for an entree of well-seasoned raw tuna with a chervil top note. And then there's the signature gnochetti – light and soft, its accompanying Bolognese sauce rich, silky and spectacular. Waitstaff bearing the next dish or bottle weave around the tiny space and the communal table where voices rise progressively throughout the evening and table neighbours swiftly become new friends. Pick a time based on the occasion: early for a brisk and efficient first sitting or later for a longer, more laissez-faire experience. Either way, don't forget the basics: eat your vegetables.
98 Patrick St, Hobart, Tas, templo.com.au
Milky light pours through tall windows, framing neighbouring convict-built barracks and illuminating a room that's simple, spare, peaceful: the style neither country nor city but bearing the best qualities of both. The conversion from asylum to Derwent Valley dining destination, about 35 minutes' drive north-west of Hobart, shows the kind of confidence that similarly emboldens the kitchen to keep things simple and strictly seasonal: the likes of charred cabbage and apple with no more support than radish and gribiche. A fluffy golden ricotta dumpling, its richness lightened by the gently sweet rainbows of braised watermelon radish and brassica leaves, adds technical proficiency to the seasonal ethos. The drinks list, meanwhile, is short, bold and resolutely Tasmanian, with a smattering of bottles from the mainland propping it up. Seasonal, old-fashioned fruits star for dessert, though the crowd-pleaser is a scoop of sourdough ice-cream, made with the kitchen's left-over wood-fired bread: simple, sustainable, memorable.
11a The Ave, New Norfolk, Tas, theagrariankitchen.com
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