GT's Restaurant Guide State Winner
GT's Restaurant Guide State Winner
If the tomatoes are on, order them. Certainly Peppina offers more complex dishes than a single tomato – sliced, seasoned, served with basil leaves and doused in excellent olive oil – but its treatment speaks volumes about chef Massimo Mele's approach at this large, glamorous hotel restaurant. Hint: it's all about the ingredients. Brilliant prosciutto is teamed with buffalo mozzarella and cime di rapa. Textbook gnocchi bonds beautifully with a tomato sauce crunchy with pangrattato. An exemplary pork chop, grilled over charcoal, is accompanied by sweet glazed carrots and salsa verde. Classic Torte Caprese is turbocharged with tart rhubarb and clotted cream. Making simple-seeming dishes remarkable demands a deft touch, and Mele has it. The excellent service and a wine list that spends most time in Tasmania and Italy are similarly adroit. Add a gorgeous room with the perfect amount of bustle, and you'll be planning a return visit before you've finished this one.
2b Salamanca Pl, Hobart, peppinarestaurant.com
You could argue Fico is the quintessential, box-ticking Hobart restaurant: a chef-run 40-seater in a dark-hued historic building, driven by produce and fond of listing local wines alongside the great and the funky European hits. Yet this is a place that dodges categorisation, to the point where chef and co-owner Federica Andrisani regularly works the floor as opposed to the pans. That desire to mix things up is embedded in the restaurant's DNA. It's also the reason there's a waiting list to experience the 10-ish course dégustation. It's there in toasted rice arancini stuffed with 'nduja and sublime Tongola goat's cheese panna cotta served with glistening onion jus. And in cross-cultural mashups such as a cleanly flavoured corn and zucchini tart that's more like a tostada, or white chocolate and yuzu sorbet with fig leaves and tangy hibiscus powder. More than anything, Fico is unfailingly itself – and perhaps more essential than quintessential as a result.
151 Macquarie St, Hobart, ficofico.net
It's a rare and impressive feat for a restaurant to rock a theme and look cool doing it. A pun, obviously, given that Institut Polaire is decked out in icy shades of white and grey and is all about cool-climate eating and drinking. But it's also a compliment, because under the personable stewardship of owner Louise Radman, this side-street Hobart diner is noticeably warm and welcoming. Radman directs both the floor and kitchen action and her menus (à la carte and set) are a roll call of local ingredients treated with respect and admiration: great tomatoes with a Tongola goat's curd gelato, wagyu tartare enhanced with local wasabi mayo, textbook spanner crab pasta, a brilliant Eton mess cheerleading for Tasmanian berries. Radman's winemaker and distiller husband Nav Singh's Domaine Simha wines feature on the artisan-minded list, but don't miss the cocktails either – they're just as seriously considered as the food.
1/7 Murray St, Hobart, institutpolaire.com.au
That sound of gnashing teeth and rending garments? It's Launceston locals mourning that, after 23 years, Stillwater – one of Tasmania's longest running and consistently best restaurants – is no longer serving breakfast. A blow, for sure, but it also hands chef Craig Will more bandwidth to focus on lunch and dinner. Given that he excels at smart, modern, locally focused, cuisine-hopping cooking – tip-top prawn and ginger dumplings; Cape Grim beef tartare cleverly blinged with bottarga and smoked almonds; gnocchi tossed through butter, pine nuts and nori-roasted mushrooms; an applause-worthy hazelnut sponge with poached quinces and Marsala zabaglione – it's hard not to get Dxcited. The room in the historic mill on the edge of the Tamar continues to deliver, whether drenched in sunshine or moodily cosy at night. So, too, do the consummate service and a wine list that teams excellent locals with counterparts from all around the globe. No eggs? No worries.
2 Bridge Rd, Launceston, stillwater.com.au
With views like those framed by the windows running the length of Van Bone's timber-lined dining room, you could serve people Vegemite on toast and they'd still leave happy. Farmland, spectacular coastline, Maria Island hovering in the distance – it's glorious. Owner and chef Timothy Hardy amplifies the view via a dégustation intensely focused on what's growing and produced nearby, much of it cooked with and flavoured by fire. A volley of snacks might include lobster with deer tongue lettuce finished with shavings of cured egg yolk; grilled blacklip abalone threaded on saltbush skewers; cucumbers speckled with mountain pepper; oysters sprinkled with smoked mackerel hot sauce. It's smart, skillful cooking that never forgets deliciousness from trevalla served with a fermented green tomato to blueberry and fig-leaf granita. The all-Tasmanian wine list, warm-hearted service by Hardy's partner Laura Stucken and an easy 50-minute drive from Hobart ensure Van Bone's must-do status.
357 Marion Bay Rd, Bream Creek, vanbone.com.au