Sunday, 31 October 2010

What's under the bonnet at the garage?

Thanks to my beautiful friend Colette from Ut Si Café in Perth (Tas), I eventually got to see last weekend’s review, by John Lethlean in the Weekend Australian, of Luke Burgess’ latest foray into restaurant-ing in which Luke drags Hobart, kicking and screaming, into the food world of the 21st century with his new, avant garde restaurant Garagistes.

Lethlean literally raved about the décor, the food, the staff, the wine – in fact every tiny detail – of which Luke and friends obviously have paid huge attention to.

He also, interestingly, twice referred to Hobart as being conservative, in his article. He is 100% correct. Hobart is an extremely tough gig, populated by an eclectic bunch of humans combining your traditional long term Tasmanian natives (in the more general sense of the word, rather than racially) with your more recent ‘blow-ins’. For someone trying to break into ANY sphere here (not necessarily food), it is a hard place to ‘read’.

Hobart (or Tasmania) functions on an entirely different level to that which those who arrive from different places expect, and assume. Many who arrive here having run a successful business elsewhere, then start up a similar operation here, often find, to their utter amazement (and sometimes, horror!), that it doesn’t quite run the way it previously did in Sydney, or Cairns, or London.

You simply can’t assume that the Tasmanian market is typical of all markets, because it’s not. You need to ease into the environment here. Make friends with friendly locals. Listen, observe, and take note. Be open-minded.

This, cleverly, is what Luke has done. He arrived in Tasmania a few years ago, with charismatic partner Katrina, to quietly take up the reins of the catering aspect at the Grandvewe Cheesery near Woodbridge, which only lasted around 6 months but nevertheless proved to be a great training ground. Slowly but surely the Luke and Katrina partnership sussed out the lie of the land, and probably came quite a few croppers on the way, but they got a good look at the environment here, so were well prepared for their second entry into the world of restaurants in Hobart – Garagistes.

I think the jury is still out on exactly what Hobart’s reaction to Garagistes really is. I have heard reports ranging from fabulous to OK to negative, but not having been there myself, obviously can’t add to that discussion.

I am genuinely delighted that Luke and Katrina chose to remain in Hobart and start up this venue, and pray that the populace will support and sustain them through the long, cold winter of 2011. If anyone is interested in Lethlean’s review, you can find it here. That review alone should send people scurrying to the door of Garagistes, clamouring for a seat!

(and, btw, yes, I AM aware of the double meaning of the word Garagistes!!)
Posted on by Rita


Anonymous said...

I went and it was a fantastic experience from the food through to the decor and especially the service.

lemon curd said...

Yes I was impressed by the "suprise of the year" tag line as well.

We went and it was interesting. Not really our bag to sit at communal tables, but saw some friends as we were sitting down so joined them instead.

I loved it, the other half was so-so... we had the Kale/Salsify dish, the quail egg dish and the oolong cream dessert. I thought it was really exciting, different flavours, different and new ingredients.

We walked out after 3 plates, and a bottle of $52 wine with a bill for $110 - that aint too bad at all!

ut si said...

I think I have told you this before Rita. "Beauty is a whore, I like money better." (Michael Cunningham)
However, I am dying to get to Garagistes. Love the fit out. Love the menu. Can I be your date?

Peter said...

Interesting post, sister. But hasn't your mother taught you not to end a sentance with a preposition? (...paid huge attention to.) Tsk Tsk.

Rita said...

Damn! I hate getting caught out like that! x

Kim (frogpondsrock) said...

The plates are very nice as well. It is nice to see a wholistic approach to eating. Good food eaten from handmade plates is lovely.

Anonymous said...

You write a'food blog in hobart, and you haven't been there! You managed sweet envy and it opened later!

I think we need some one more dedicated to the task than you!

Rita said...

Hey Anon - ease up! For a starter, Sweet Envy opened way before Garagistes - if you're a dedicated follower of food fashion, you'd know that! You're right though - I definitely haven't been to Garagistes, yet. But you can rest assured I will eat there, and write about it here.