TA­BLES Shine on, south­ern star

Michelle Rowe vis­its a lively North Ho­bart diner with a fo­cus on keep­ing it lo­cal

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

E’RE com­fort­ably set­tled at Ho­bart’s Restau­rant 373 and our som­me­lier is in full flight. He’s ex­tolling the virtues of a 2005 d’Meure Pinot Noir, a lo­cal drop we’ve not tried but with such an en­thu­si­as­tic rap — ‘‘ it’s half the price of an­other big­name pinot but bet­ter; other wine­mak­ers are re­ally talk­ing about [wine­maker Dirk Meure]’’ — how can we not take his ad­vice and or­der a bot­tle?

The pinot more than lives up to ex­pec­ta­tions; a smooth and vel­vety drop pro­duced by d’Meure Wines at a vine­yard on the shores of the D’En­tre­casteaux Chan­nel, about 50km from where we’re sit­ting.

Lo­cally sourced wines and pro­duce are a re­cur­ring theme at 373, a bustling eatery housed in the her­itage El­iz­a­beth Street, North Ho­bart site that was once oc­cu­pied by Lickerish; the 373 part of the name comes from its street num­ber.

We’re in pole po­si­tion in our win­dow seat, watch­ing the comings and goings out­side in the Tas­ma­nian cap­i­tal’s eat street, and are glad to fi­nally put up our feet fol­low­ing a few days check­ing out some of the Ap­ple Isle’s best pro­duc­ers.

There’s much to see on that front and the ev­i­dence is in the small but per­fectly formed menu and wine list here, which read like a ver­i­ta­ble who’s who of Tas­ma­nian pro­duc­ers: Bruny Is­land oys­ters (‘‘de­liv­ered by the oys­ter farmer!’’ pro­claims a line at the top of the menu), Spring Bay abalone and scal­lops, Huon Val­ley mush­rooms, Flin­ders Is­land wal­laby, East Coast sal­mon, Bruny Is­land cheeses. Lo­cal wines, mean­while, are sourced from the ex­cel­lent Ste­fano Lu­biano, Ap­s­ley Gorge, Do­maine A, Home Hill, Frog­more Creek, Kelve­don Es­tate vine­yards and more. Even the beers are on home turf, with James Boag, Cas­cade and Moo Brew top­ping the list.

‘‘ We try to source lo­cally . . . Tas­ma­ni­ans are proud of what they’re do­ing and want to see their own pro­duce [on menus],’’ says our waiter as he slips a com­pli­men­tary plate of herb and wal­nut bread with salt­cod bran­dade and a patty of un­salted but­ter on to our ta­ble. Next fol­lows an amuse bouche of Ital­ian tomato and white­bean soup with Si­cil­ian olive oil.

At this rate we risk hav­ing to let the belt out a notch be­fore the starters have ar­rived, but we’re not com­plain­ing, and we’re en­joy­ing the ban­ter with the en­thu­si­as­tic floor staff.

Around us the place is buzzing. A steady and good­na­tured hum em­anates from a big cor­po­rate ta­ble while cou­ples and four­somes en­joy the laid­back vibe in a room that’s all wooden floors, sexy red high­light walls, white-clothed ta­bles, bent­wood chairs and sub­dued lighting.

Our wine, served in Rei­del glass­ware, is slip­ping down nicely as we skip the oys­ters sec­tion and go straight to starters.

Oys­ter fans, how­ever, will find a wealth of op­por­tu­nity here; if you don’t fancy your Bruny Is­land bi­valves

Prime num­ber: Bustling eatery Restau­rant 373 is housed in a North Ho­bart her­itage build­ing served nat­u­rally with a squeeze of lime ($16 for five; $29 for 10) you can have them kilpatrick hol­landaise; topped with vanilla fen­nel; driz­zled with 373’s limon­cello; grati­nated with braised leek; or grilled with caramelised onion and Thorpe farm goat’s cheese.

For our starters, we pass on the ap­peal­ing sound­ing ro­que­fort and saf­fron risotto with basil and sweet and salty wal­nuts ($21) and choose Spring Bay abalone, dou­ble braised, fen­nel cit­rus salad and squid ink dust ($23), and Spring Bay scal­lops in their shells with chorizo and tomato salsa and basil ($23).

Our at­ten­tive waiter tells us the squid ink dust is some­thing chef Fabian Christoph saw when in Europe and wanted to re-cre­ate him­self, us­ing a deeply con­fus­ing process of freeze dry­ing, blitz­ing and other whizbangery. Mel­bourne boy Christoph’s pedi­gree in­cludes a stint work­ing at The Beach Cafe in Corn­wall, Eng­land, and at Dono­vans in Mel­bourne be­fore arriving in Tas­ma­nia with part­ner Narelle Monks, who works front of house at 373.

The re­sult­ing dust is sprin­kled in a neat line on my plate, the abalone finely cubed and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing fen­nel salad in a small pile. It’s an in­ter­est­ing com­bi­na­tion; per­haps not some­thing I’d rush back to have again — there are so many other ap­peal­ing things to try on the starters list af­ter all — but it’s an in­trigu­ing twist on a dish.

My hus­band’s four scal­lops come perched on their shells, a dash of chorizo salsa un­der­neath each piece of seafood, and fin­ished off with a scat­ter­ing of basil. It’s a lovely com­bi­na­tion, our favourite of the two dishes.

For mains, it’s surf and turf. In my case I’m hav­ing the surf; a slice of East Coast sal­mon with prawn can­nel­loni, zuc­chini and frothy bisque. Frothy is the right word, as this par­tic­u­lar sal­mon looks like it’s rid­ing the crest of a thor­oughly wind-lashed wave. The fish, al­though beau­ti­fully flavoured, is a lit­tle on the un­der­done side even for one who likes most things pink to the point of ridicu­lous.

On the other hand, my hus­band’s Long­ford eye-fil­let with beef cheek and shal­lot ravi­oli, spinach and shal­lot sauce is ter­rific. A ten­der, gen­er­ously sized chunk of beef is en­livened with a del­i­cate shal­lot sauce, the sin­gle piece of ravi­oli perched on the greens to one side. It’s sim­ple but el­e­gant and goes down a treat.

We’re de­feated come dessert time. A few days of eat­ing our way across Tas­ma­nia has taken its toll, which is a pity as the cheeses and desserts look a treat.

A note at the top of the ex­ten­sive cheese list help­fully prompts din­ers to or­der their cheese with the rest of their meal to en­sure that ‘‘ your cheese comes out to you at room tem­per­a­ture’’. The list cov­ers Aus­tralian as well Sim­ple but el­e­gant: Long­ford Eye-fil­let, beef cheek and shal­lot ravi­oli with spinach shal­lot sauce Restau­rant 373 373 El­iz­a­beth St, North Ho­bart; (03) 6231 9031; www.restau­rant373.com.au. Open: Mon­day-Satur­day, from 6pm; lunch by ap­point­ment. Cost: $200 for two. Drink: Top Tassie tip­ples and a healthy smat­ter­ing from the rest of the world. Rea­son to re­turn: To try one of those muchad­mired desserts.

Pic­tures: Matthew New­ton

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.