Worth a pilgrimage
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.