Pilgrim Coffee

BYO $-$$
48 Argyle Street/52 Liverpool Street, CBD
03) 6234 1999
Open: 7.00am to 3.00pm.

Owner Will Priestly and Chef Christian Ryan started at what might be considered opposite ends of the culinary spectrum – Priestly at Hudson Coffee before taking off in search of the best beans around the world; Ryan in the kitchens at Peppermint Bay, Melbourne’s Taxi, Gordon Ramsey’s Savoy Grill in London and, most recently, The Source at MONA.

Priestly opened Pilgrim Coffee in Argyle Street in August 2011 and very 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 Street and opened it as an eatery with Ryan last May. Next on the drawing board is another hole through the wall to the tattoo studio next door on Liverpool, which will open shortly as an upmarket hamburger “joint’ with the very talented chef, Sam Chung, also from The Source, flipping the burgers.

At the moment, “holes in the wall” might be the most appropriate descriptions for both of Pilgrim’s existing legs, both 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 pocket-handkerchief-sized 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 perhaps sounds. And, 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 a number of the dishes at lunch lacked, I felt, a little something – the flavour of corn had they used authentic corn masa instead of flour for the tortillas, a lift of wasabi with the trout and so on, little things that left me feeling that Ryan and his brigade (all ex-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 perceive as their market. But I thought it a shame for, if Garagistes, The Stackings and All Thai have shown us anything, it’s that one shouldn’t underestimate today’s Hobartian palate.

But those were minor quibbles – and a critic’s quibbles at that – quibbles that were more than made up for by the vibe of the place, the excellent, very professional service led by Heiki Staley – also from The Source – and, on the whole, menus and food that, along with those at Daci and Daci, The Duchess and Berta, lift Hobart’s coffee/breakfast/luncheon bar to exciting and very enjoyable new heights.

Crumpets $10.00; winter salad $12.00; lamb $16.00; spanner crab $19.00; Hipster breakfast $19.00

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