Saturday, 31 December 2011


Last night, sixteen years ago, I met Kim at the infamous local institution of drinking, discoing and other such licentious disrepute which in times gone by was Nickleby's in Sandy Bay. When you confess that this was where you met your future husband  there can be no confusion that it may have been sophisticated and highbrow. It was decidedly messy and great fun.

While Nickleby's has gone the way of other such sordid Tasmanian entertainment options as the B & S, the venue has more recently morphed into this:

So last night we made a pilgrimmage and took the children back to the scene to reminisce about the magic that was our misspent youth:

We were all having a lovely time until we lost Tobes. He was missing for five minutes - it felt like a decade. Eventually we found him in the car park hiding under the car. Phew. Imagine. Then Mum took the children home.

And Kim and I finally got around to dining at Garagistes:

I had been scared about the random element of showing up and having to either wait interminably for a table or be turned away. I shouldn't have, as we only waited fifteen minutes, companionably, with a glass of bubbly in hand.

This is what we ate. 

Bread with smoked butter (and when they said 'smoked' they meant it, as it was flavoured with 'essence of campfire' which doesn't sound particularly appetising yet it was):

Potato crostini, braised onion + smoked potato mousse, herbs + flowers (isn't it pretty with the petals and borage flowers):

Saltfish fritters, garlic + salted lemon aioli:

Smoked eel, quails eggs, onion fondue, crisp bread + potato, oxalis leaves (and to think I had only ever considered oxalis a weed and dedicated vast amounts of time to trying to eradicate it - now I can make salad. Or maybe I can supply them with oxalis from my garden.):

Piment d'espelette braised tripe, shitake pickles, cured duck breast, young garlic (the entire time we were in France I was terrified that I would accidentally order an animals stomach lining as the whole concept made me squeamish. Last night we challenged ourselves and wittingly ordered tripe. It was DELICIOUS):

Grilled spring onion, kohlrabi, nettle sauce, duck egg yolk, lovage, toasted quinoa:

Burnt cream, shortcake, citrus meringue, rhubarb granita + gooseberry jelly (more beautiful flowers):

Kunzea ice cream, strawberries, raspberries, pepper meringue, lemon basil:

It was a great meal. The flavours were quirky, unexpected and delicious. The vibe was casual, buzzy and unfussy with the emphasis firmly on the food. I loved the industrial setting with long tables and the communal dining feel - I momentarily flashed back to the dining room at boarding school yet it was only fleeting as there was nothing institutional about the tables, stools or dinnerware.

The word Garagistes translates from French to garage/mechanic which not only evokes the restaurants previous incarnation - I can remember having my car serviced there - but also the way that they tinker with the food.

Afterwards we hit the town to catch up with Kim's old friend who raced down in the Sydney/Hobart:

And we are out and about again tonight.


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