Worth a pil­grim­age

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - Graeme Phillips

OWNER Will Pri­est­ley and chef Chris­tian Ryan went to school to­gether but started at what might be con­sid­ered op­po­site ends of the culi­nary spec­trum.

Priestly started at Hud­son Cof­fee be­fore tak­ing off in search of the best beans around the world, while Ryan started in the kitchens at Peppermint Bay, Melbourne’s Taxi, Gor­don Ram­say’s Savoy Grill in Lon­don and, most re­cently, The Source at MONA.

Priestly opened Pil­grim Cof­fee in Ar­gyle St in Au­gust 2011 and quickly es­tab­lished it as one of the city’s more se­ri­ous cof­fee houses.

He then knocked a hole in the wall to an ad­join­ing dog- leg space fronting Liver­pool St and opened it as an eatery, aptly called Prop­erty of Pil­grim, with Ryan in May.

Next on the draw­ing board is an­other hole in the wall, to the tat­too stu­dio next door, which will soon open as an up­mar­ket ham­burger “joint” with tal­ented chef Sam Chung, also from The Source, flip­ping the burg­ers.

At the mo­ment, “holes in the wall” might be the most ap­pro­pri­ate de­scrip­tion for both of Pil­grim’s ex­ist­ing legs.

Both are small with rus­tic raw brick and rough tim­ber “decor”, crowded retro fur­nish­ings and an over­all ware­house feel that con­trasts with the beau­ti­fully plated, con­tem­po­rary and in­no­va­tive food served out of the hand­ker­chief­sized kitchen.

For break­fast, on menus burn- printed into tim­ber blocks, there are such dishes as sin­gle- ori­gin cocoa waf­fles with salted caramel, ba­nana and hazel­nut cream and French toast in a colour­ful laven­der, petal

and freeze- dried berry pot pourri in a pud­dle of vi­o­let anglaise, which tasted a lot bet­ter than it sounds.

If that’s too rich for the sys­tem early in the day, there’s also spiced ap­ple por­ridge with

wal­nut crum­ble or house crum­pets with quince jam and mas­car­pone.

From the same menus, there’s a se­lec­tion of to­day’s great­est- hit lun­cheon dishes – pulled pork tor­tillas with all the proper lit­tle ac­com­pa­ni­ments, span­ner crab with “slow” eggs and sweet soy, lime and co­rian­der- cured trout beau­ti­fully pre­pared and pre­sented, beef cheeks with pick­led mush­rooms and more “slow” eggs, Mid­dle Eastern slow- cooked lamb, and, in a nod to Ryan’s Pol­ish her­itage, Placki ( plat- ski) con­sist­ing of crisp potato pan­cakes, gen­er­ous slices of kassler, dill sour cream and sweet fennel- pick­led slaw.

I was tempted to de­scribe the food as “cut­ting- edge”, but sev­eral of the lunch dishes lacked, I felt, a lit­tle some­thing. The flavour of corn, for in­stance. Per­haps they could have used au­then­tic corn masa in­stead of flour for the tor­tillas, a lift of wasabi with the trout.

Lit­tle things that left me feel­ing Ryan and his bri­gade – all from The Source – had gone to the edge with their styling and flavours and then pulled back a con­ser­va­tive step or two.

No doubt they did it to ac­com­mo­date what they see as their mar­ket.

But I thought it a shame as, if Garag­istes, The Stack­ings and All Thai have shown us any­thing, it’s that one shouldn’t un­der­es­ti­mate the Ho­bar­tian palate.

But those were mi­nor quib­bles that were more than made up for by the vibe of the place, the pro­fes­sional ser­vice led by Heiki Stan­ley – also from The Source – and, on the whole, menus and food that, along with those at Daci and Daci, The Duchess, and Berta ( old Pic­colo), lift Ho­bart’s cof­fee/ break­fast/ lun­cheon bar to ex­cit­ing and very en­joy­able new heights.

Crum­pets $ 10; win­ter salad $ 12; lamb $ 16; span­ner crab $ 19; Hip­ster break­fast $ 19.

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