Tassie’s much-loved Agrarian Kitchen has expanded from farm to restaurant – and it takes Anthony Huckstep to his happy place.
Enjoy a taste of Tassie goodness at The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery.
I’VE OFTEN THOUGHT
that anyone opening a restaurant risks ending up in an asylum. Long hours, late nights, chefs’ egos and minuscule margins conspire to draw one closer to a straitjacket and padded cell.
The Agrarian Kitchen’s Rodney Dunn and Séverine Demanet cut to the chase, opening their restaurant in New Norfolk’s Willow Court – a former mental asylum.
Over the past 10 years, they’ve been growing produce and running The Agrarian Kitchen – Tassie’s adored kitchen garden and cooking school – in nearby Lachlan. The restaurant seems a natural progression to celebrate not only produce they grow themselves, but that of farmers, fishermen and growers of the region, too.
Drinks guru Adi Ruiz embodies the local ethos with a list that celebrates the region’s drops as well as taking seasonal produce to make syrups and ferments for his quirky cocktails. The service is natural and earnest in its willingness to share a piece of Tasmania – hardly surprising given it’s led by the wonderful Katrina Birchmeier (Bar Brosé, Garagistes).
A celebration of such is one thing, but the restraint and respect shown by head chef Ali Currey-Voumard is a sheer joy.
The house-made sourdough demands to be smeared with house-churned butter. There’s a wonderful firmness to cured strips of Tasmania’s hero fish, striped trumpeter, eight of which arrive on a plate with rye, half a soft-boiled egg, pickled onion, butter and kefir cream. The combination allows each element to have its say, especially the fish.
Crisp, refreshing and earthy broad bean leaves provide a canopy over raw and pickled beetroot, carrots, turnips and daikon that huddle on a dense labneh in a moat of olive oil. It’s one of the most perfect dishes I’ve had this year. There’s local morwong served with spaghettino tossed with garlic and pangrattato (breadcrumbs), southern-fried leatherjacket with chilli-spiked ‘razorback’ ranch, or lamb meatballs with tahini sauce.
But the undeniable go-to is the wood-roasted meat of the day. Today it’s suckling pig – a generous slab of golden, crisp-skinned swine encasing wobbly flesh accompanied by some stunning sides. These include a refreshing salted, toasted sesame-dressed cabbage; a shredded cold potato salad with chilli oil, peanuts and black pepper; and a large, buttery lard and chive pancake that fits neatly into one’s guilty pleasures bag. All with plum sauce, kimchi and cucumber pickle to help cut through the richness.
If you’re after a sweet fix but can’t fit much, the Monte Carlo biscuit is perfect.
Whatever you do, just make sure you check yourself in to the Agrarian Kitchen Eatery when in the Apple Isle. You’d be crazy not to.