Hobart Hype: Coffee, part 1.

Oh, dear. I’ve got a lot of strong feelings about coffee. Don’t you? Doesn’t everyone? Aren’t these strong coffee feelings subjective? Yes and no (mostly yes), but this is my blog and I never said anything about objectivity. I’m probably going to do more than one post about coffee and Hobart because I can’t limit these feelings to one of each. I just can’t.

Just right: Villino & Ecru Coffee.

Jaime Lannister has it wrong about a few things but he’s bang on the money when it comes to coffee. Ok, his actor is bang on the money. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was spotted at Villino around a year ago when he was holidaying in Tasmania (what a legend) and I just found this article about that event that features a hilarious quote from me, noice.

Villino was on my radar when I moved down here and it’s stayed on my radar since becoming a local. I don’t frequent it, but I know that if I ever stop by, my coffee’s always going to be excellent. Villino roast their own, and have takeaway beans available for home drinkers too.

To be perfectly honest, I visit Villino’s little takeaway brother Ecru (a couple of doors down) a lot more, because Villino’s often a little TOO cosy inside (small shop, many people!). I was a semi-regular at Ecru for a while, thanks to their prepaid coffee application and my running late and not having time to make myself a coffee before work. I could load up Rewardle, order my coffee, jump on my bike and a few minutes later have a delicious takeaway in my hands. As well as the prepaid feature, Ecru give you a free coffee every ten coffees through Rewardle. Nice! The only trick is making sure you’ve got some prepaid credit already sorted at Ecru, because there’s no preordering if you’re at $0.

Ecru’s also open on Sundays now thanks to the Farm Gate Market having relocated to the end of Criterion St. I love the market but I love Ecru’s coffee more. Wait… their Facebook page says closed Sundays… maybe it’s just during warmer months? Rats. Quit playing games with my heart, guys.

Anyway, long story short—these guys have got the goods.

Overhyped: Doctor Coffee.

Call the doctor, this coffee is burning my fingers. Why does the Doctor’s coffee take so damn long to brew? Why does everybody rave about it? Does anybody actually rave about it or do I just think that they do? The Doctor is my very last resort for takeaway coffee, one rung above McCafe. I will only go to the Doctor if forced. They’re open most public holidays when nowhere else is, and I guess their Sandy Bay cafe (the newest of the chain) is ok (the wallpaper is so great and the staff are nice and the coffee doesn’t seem to take a million years to make like it does at Salamanca), but after getting burned one too many times (figuratively and literally?) at Salamanca, the Doctor leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If you’re around Salamanca, there are way better options. See below, for example.

Underhyped: Zimmah Coffee & Parklane Espresso.

Zimmah beans are my jam. A friend first put me onto Zimmah via Yelp review and I was in for a penny, in for a pound… of coffee beans. I’ve watched the Zimmah space evolve from coffee dungeon (when it was pretty much just a bench space in a garage) to cosy hangout space (with pillars of books!), and while I do wish they’d start doing breakfasts (because they’re a stone’s throw from my place), I’ll take what I can get and if I’m just feeling like drinking a bunch of coffees and writing the next great novel, Zimmah is the perfect place to do that.

Dane entertains my coffee fussiness for both takeaways (flat white, milk around 60°C ie not too damn hot) and beans (filter, light and sweet, floral notes best). I’ve even sweet-talked my way into a home delivery of beans once, which was definitely above and beyond. Zimmah does a handful of regular blends, all with amazing label designs and fun names—my favourites are the two lighter blends, the Artful Dodger and Dutch Courage, because they work the best in my Aeropress at home.

Parklane gets a shoutout in here because they use Zimmah beans and they’re a trustworthy and delicious coffee haven in the middle of Salamanca (hidden in a corner of Salamanca Square), particularly on Saturday mornings when the market’s on. So many awful coffee vendors at the market. So many poor tourists. If only they knew…! The Parklane guys are lovely, their coffee prices aren’t ridiculous, they’re quick with their pours, and they even have a “perfect” size. I feel like a smug jerk every time I order a perfect flat white. Sorry, not sorry.

  

So, what do you reckon? As with all reviews, these opinions are subjective, so your mileage may vary. I just really like talking about food (and coffee).

Hobart Hype: Breakfast.

I was going to write this post almost a year ago. What’s up with procrastinating from doing something you actually enjoy doing? ANYWAY, here’s part two of the Hobart Hype post series I tried to light a fire under myself with last year. I really love having opinions on things. (I said this in passing to my boss the other day and she casually replied with, “Yes, you do.”)

Just Right: Machine Laundry Cafe.

Known as “Machine” to the locals, it may be stuck in a corner of Salamanca AKA Tourist Central but dang, these guys have got it going on. The coffee is solid (it won’t blow your mind but it won’t break your heart), the breakfast menu goes all day (perfect for the afternoon risers, guilty as charged), and the menu items are a decent mix of classics and more interesting options.

I like to drop into Machine at least once every six months—I’m not a rabid regular. The menu doesn’t change. It just doesn’t. There are a couple of specials every day but I don’t think I’ve ever ordered one. I’ve had the fat boy, the pulled pork sanga, the new old egg dish… they’re probably my top three picks, actually. If you’re a fan of bowls of coffee, they’re on the menu here.

The morning sun can tend to blind half the table if you’re sitting outside, but then again, sitting outside in the morning sun in the middle of winter can be delightful. Because Machine’s in the square, it’s shielded from most of the winds that can rip through town. And you’re right next to a giant chess board if you fancy a round or two before or after your meal.

Thom's Thing @ Machine Laundry Cafe.

Thom’s Thing @ Machine Laundry Cafe.

Overhyped: Pigeon Hole.

This might be the sole reason I decided to start doing these posts. If I see one more mainlander recommend this place to their mainland friends planning a trip to Hobart, I might scream. No, I’ll most likely scream. Who am I kidding? I’ve already screamed over this. I’m screaming right now. Why? Pigeon Hole is fine. It’s fine. I was never overwhelmed with it, myself. The meals are too small and dainty and expensive for what they are, but it’s not bad. It’s just not worth raving over, and the business has changed hands since people first decided to start raving about it, too.

Do you know what’s worth raving over about Pigeon Hole? The bread. Do you know where you can get the bread and many other delicious baked goods now? Pigeon Whole Bakery. Please choose to rave over them instead. Go crazy over their sweet baked goods. Push an entire Pigeon Whole brioche bun into your face, even if it’s got nothing on it. If you’re around Hobart at Easter, do whatever you can to secure yourself some Pigeon Whole Bakery hot cross buns. I don’t even like hot cross buns but I will religiously (ahaha) get a half-dozen of these for the long weekend and I love them. Plus, just the other day my boss told me that they’re now doing banh mi for lunches. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.

Underhyped: Raspberry Fool.

Ah, this is awkward. The cafe I was determinedly going to write about in this space almost a year ago has lost my interest. I loved them fiercely, quite honestly, but then they had a kitchen fire and were closed for a few weeks and when they reopened it was with a new menu that was less breakfast-flavoured and somehow undefinably less Mem-flavoured and I went right off them.

Is my finger on the pulse enough to say that there should be more hype for Straight Up? What about Ginger Brown? Or Room for a Pony? I feel like locals, at least, will scoff at my saying Ginger Brown deserves more hype, because the place is consistently busy and most tables will have little reserved signs on any given day of the week—but interstate visitors ain’t got a clue. Ok, maybe we want to keep it that way. I’ll move on.

WAIT, I’VE GOT IT! EVERYBODY HOLD YOUR HORSES! EVERYBODY REDIRECT YOUR HORSES TO RASPBERRY FOOL! This place is so underhyped that I regularly forget about it, which is a travesty, because every time I have been there I have had the most delicious meal, served by the friendliest staff. I’m not even kidding. The first time I went there I had a baked egg dish that blew me away. I don’t even really like egg dishes or tend to go for them if there are appealing enough non-egg dishes, but this was just… it was heaven in a dish. I believe in a Yelp review I went so far as to call it my Hobart Breakfast dish, as up until that morning I hadn’t really found a brekky joint that truly rocked my boat.

Baked eggs @ Raspberry Fool.

Baked eggs @ Raspberry Fool.

There are a couple of cons (mothers always say your flaws are what make you beautiful though, right?), which really just concern the space: it’s a weeny place with not a lot of seating and the floors always make me think “bathroom”. But the pros list is a lot longer. I’ve already covered a lot, but let’s add to that good coffee, open seven days a week (!!!), and a good Facebook presence with lots of tempting photos. I love that Raspberry Fool’s description on FB opens with “A cuddle from mum – yep we serve comfort food”. <3 Comfort food is just what this is, and more people should know it.

So, what do you reckon? As with all reviews, these opinions are subjective, so your mileage may vary. I just really like talking about food.

Hobart Hype: Burgers.

As the second Dark Mofo raged through town earlier this month, I saw plenty of people passing on travel tips to others.

“Oh, you’re going to Hobart? Don’t miss X! Make sure you get along to Y! And bring me back something from Z!”

Some of the recommendations I heartily agreed with, others I shook my head over. And furthermore, I wondered how more continued to fly under the radar. It’s true that sometimes I like having favourite spots to myself, but for business’ sake I wish more for them.

Plus I needed something to blog about.

So I present Hypebart: each month I’ll (try to) throw light on stuff around town from a local’s perspective (and subjective opinion, of course). Throw light and maybe throw a little shade, depending on how I’m feeling. Sound like fun? Let’s go.

This month I’m in a burger mood.

Just Right: The Standard.

This little alleyway burger nook in the middle of the CBD has only been open for six months but has already won the hearts and stomachs of locals and tourists alike (the ones that are cluey enough to go looking for it, that is).

It’s true that there could be more seating (and warmer seating, in winter) and the fries have been causing some local polarisation (I LOVE them, I know others HATE them) but dang, those burgers. I wouldn’t use the phrase “Huxtaburger of Hobart” lightly, but that’s exactly how I feel. Great size, great fillings, exciting combos, a secret menu, and A+ price. I’m hooked and so should you be, too.

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Overhyped: Jack Greene / Burger Got Soul / Burger Haus

This is cheating a little bit, for me to make this claim. I’ve eaten more than one burger at both BGS and BH but I have to admit that I’ve yet to get my burg on at JG. And yet… a “gourmet burger” is a “gourmet burger” is a “gourmet burger” and while there may not be a Grill’d in Tasmania, we don’t need one, because we’ve got all these guys who do exactly the same thing. Big burgers with funny names full of ample ingredients that explode everywhere, big thick-cut chips on the side which are delicious but you can barely fit them in if you want to finish the burger too.

I was excited about these types of burgers seven years ago or so when Grill’d first opened in Melbourne but it’s a far too oversaturated market these days and hard to stand out. Which is part of the reason I’ve lumped all three of the above venues together. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the same place but just in Salamanca, Sandy Bay and North Hobart.

Underhyped: The Winston.

It’s true that the beer list at the Winston is legendary. But not nearly enough people are talking about the Winston’s cheeseburger, which in my mind is equally legendary.

LEGENDARY.

It’s true they went off the rails a little with those dusty buns (don’t get me started on how much I hate flour-dusted buns, WHAT PURPOSE DO THEY SERVE? EXCEPT TO COVER ME IN FLOUR? WHY WOULD I EVER WANT THAT? Sorry I guess I got myself started) but things have been back on track lately. Straight down the line: a meat patty, cheese, sweet sliced pickles and sauce. Done. Welcome to a perfect dirty burger, in my opinion.

Occasionally the meat patty is cooked right the way through, and sure that’s good and all and what we’re used to as Strayans but as a recent convert to the “slightly rare burger patty” party, I’ve gotta say, my favourite Winston cheeseburgers are the ones that have that slight streak of pink in the middle of the patty.

I can’t tell you much about the rest of the menu here as it’s rare for me to sway from my regular order of a cheeseburger and a pint. I’ll admit that the couple of times I’ve ordered other burgers here, I’ve been disappointed. But it’s also true that the most recent time I ate at the Winston, I had a clam chowder and it was SENSATIONAL. Which is actually a bit upsetting for me because my heart tells me all I should ever eat there are cheeseburgers.

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So, what do you reckon? As I’ve already said, these opinions are subjective, so your mileage may vary. I just really like talking about food.