Mrs. Selfish and I ended our 6-day stint through Tasmania in Hobart, Tasmania’s largest city in Tasmania. That being said, it is a small city at just over 220,000 people. It is also a stunning city.
A common theme we noticed while wandering around Australia is that food is excellent. Even your worst meal is destined to be pretty good. I imagine this has to do with the size of the country, and the freshness of local food.
Tasmania takes that to the extreme. Everything is local. Every is fresh. Everything is delicious.
Staying at the Henry Jones Art Hotel
First we needed a place to stay. Since it was my birthday we decided to splurge and grab a room at the Henry Jones Art Hotel. Located near the harbor, the Henry Jones is a great jumping off point for some amazing meals – and is also close to the MONA ferry and Salamanca Market.
The hotel is filled with all sorts of funky art, and the whole building gives off an artsy-fartsy vibe. The Henry Jones used to be a Jam Factory, so the space has a really nice feel to it.
The Henry Jones is a little steep, at around $220 a night for a standard room. Such prices normally make my wallet run away yelping in pain, but Mrs. Selfish convinced me to book it since it was for my birthday.
So was it worth it? Probably not.
The room was nice, but not really anything special. There are definitely better chain hotels out there, and while I enjoyed the unique art style I found the hotel concierge day team to be a little unfriendly. Similarly, while they nailed the hotel’s image, some of the basic services – like hot water and wifi – were a little off.
While the hotel was a little off, however, the restaurant was not.
Contemporary & Traditional at Henry’s Harbourside
Henry’s Habourside, located at the bottom floor of the Henry Jones Art Hotel serves up contemporary and traditional Tasmanian food.
Mrs. Selfish and I started off by splitting the Steamed Pork Bun Appetizer, Henry’s twist on Dim Sum.
Steamed Pork Buns are one of my favorite Dim Sum dishes (we even did a long search for the best pork buns in Hong Kong). The Pork Bun at Henry’s was a little pricey at $9 AUD, but was an excellent twist on the traditional Chinese dish. Served open, the bun had a nice chewy texture, while the meat itself was perfectly seasoned and tender.
For the main course I ordered the Bruny Island Goat, while Mrs. Selfish ordered the Mushrooms.
The Bruny Island Goat ($36 AUD) featured a braised leg and shoulder of goat served in an eggplant and miso puree topped with an herb wafer, complete with a side of baby turnips, brussel sprouts, and pickled fennel.
The goat was delicious and tender, while the puree gave it a slight sweet and tangy flavor. The herb wafer was a little flavorless, but added a nice crunch. The pickled vegetables on the side, added an excellent contrast to the gameness of the goat.
The Mushroom dish ($32 AUD) consisted of several types of mushrooms served on top of egg yolk pasta on top of panna gratta, herb butter, a raw egg, and home made goat cheese. The herbs added a nice fresh punch, while the goat cheese melted deliciously when mixed with the mushrooms. An excellent dish, that made me a bit jealous.
Finally for dessert we ordered their home made pumpkin ice cream ($16 AUD), which was served with a hazelnut and maple cake, candied pumpkin seeds, and melon slices all in a home made fruit sauce.
VERDICT: Fresh ingredients, with an innovative menu. Worth a go if you’re looking for a fancy meal out.
Gargistes – the Set Meal
For our second dinner in Hobart, we had the pleasure of dining in Garagistes – a set course, no-reservations type joint with a definite hipster vibe. You the know the one – long shared tables, exposed rafters, an extensive wine list, and an ever-changing menu.
And of course, excellent food.
The place was packed, despite the fact that we showed up at 6pm. Doors open at 5pm, so you’re best bet of grabbing a seat is to show up early. Otherwise put your name on the list and grab a beer from the bar next door.
Although it was a little expensive at $85 a head, the meal was 5 courses of awesome:
Garagistes kicked it off with a savory macaroon amuse bouche
Warm coastal greens, whey sauce, broccoli, egg yolk + wild rice
Octopus grilled over coals, stinging nettle sauce, preserved oca root, black radish + Lebanese cress
Baked potato puree, prune essence, dried olives, home made kernel oil, and black garlic
Lightly steamed striped trumpeter, smoked winter oysters, and cabbage
Walnut ice cream, salted walnut, parsnip, dried blackberry, and saltbush.
VERDICT: I don’t know half the ingredients that went into this meal, but they were all delicious. Course after course was packed with unexpected flavor combinations – definitely a must try!
Final Thoughts: While both meals were excellent, I found the Henry Jones to be better value for money. While the set course at Gargistes was excellent, it’s hard for me to say it was twice as good.