Room for a Pony

338 Elizabeth St, North Hobart
03) 6231 0808
Open: Open 7.00am to 4.00pm weekdays, 8.00am to 4.00pm weekends. Takeaways.

Owners Drew Port, Mendel Zotz Wilson and Christian Allen, spent six months renovating the old O’Brien Glass building on the corner opposite The Republic in North Hobart before opening Room for a Pony last November. And they’ve done a good job creating what may just be the sunniest eating spot on the strip. Seating about 60, on a Saturday morning recently, both inside and outside were full with a regular turnover of tables.

The name, they say, comes from the very successful BBC comedy of the 1990s, ‘Keeping up Appearances’ when Hyacinth Bucket (Bouquet) says of her sister “She’s the one with the Mercedes, the swimming pool, and room for a pony”. I’m told that Hyacinth today has something of a cult following among a younger generation. But, as dated as the series is, with dishes like lablabi (chickpea soup), chai-infused rice porridge, quinoa salad, bahn mi (baguettes) and plenty of gluten-free options, the menu is as up to date as anyone could like.

There are even a few ultra-trendy paleo options designed, Port says, for people coming straight from their morning gym session, paleo being the latest diet du jour advocating that we eat what our ancestors of the late Stone Age did.

Now, before that sounds like a turn off, think about it. Cavemen food consisted of flesh, fish, seeds, fruits and greens much as our food does today, the big difference being that theirs was all natural and unprocessed and therefore, it’s claimed, healthier. But chef Allen hasn’t gone quite as far as the Paleo hipsters of New York where “bone broth” (aka stock) has become a trend beverage as the next magic health potion.

And Paleo or not, the chai-infused rice porridge with pomegranate molasses and beautifully baked pear from their all-day breakfast list was a delicious start to the day. As was the fiery Chinese fried chilli omelette, a dish that I suspect could become addictive.

Foregoing the menu’s “eggs as you like”, we got them anyhow by ordering Tunisian lablabi with poached Tasmanian salmon, spinach, eggs and harissa; clay-baked eggs in red capsi salsa with chorizo; and Thai beef noodles, each of which was fine without being anything special, the noodles and lablabi in particular in needed a bit more of their signature Thai and Tunisian oomph respectively.

Port says they have plans to landscape the Burnett Street and Elizabeth Street corner of the block, extend the outside café area and, when dollars and time allow, turn the presently unused back rooms of the building into a full-on restaurant and bar.

In the meantime they’re filling a popular niche with food and flavours that are different and a lot more adventurous than in most cafes around town and which, with a little tweaking of some, and better coffee, could make Hyacinth Bucket even happier.

Toast with condiments $7.00; eggs $9.50; other breakfast dishes $13.50 – $19.00; lunch menu $16.00 – $19.00; vegetarian $9.00 – $16.00; salads $9.00 – $16.00; rolls $10/$12; sweets $6.00 – $9.00

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