Straight Up Coffee and Food

BYO $   Hat icon
202 Liverpool Street, Hobart CBD
03) 6236 9237
Open: Monday to Friday 7.30am to 3.00pm; Weekends 8.00am to 3.00pm. Takeaways.

After 12 years in hospitality in Sydney and the last three years working around the traps in Hobart, Tasmanian-born Jess Mackeen and Chiko Read opened Straight Up in what they jokingly call “the Paris end” of Liverpool Street seven months ago.

With all the Americana, sous vide and media-inspired slow-cooked this, that and everything else around town, it was wonderfully refreshing to have them describe their food, and the reason for opening their restaurant, simply as “this is our lifestyle and the sort of food we enjoy, and we wanted to share it with others”. And that “sort of food” translates into a vegetarian and 100 percent gluten-free menu with plenty of vegan dishes and vegan options. “We’re not making any kind of political statement or creating a clubby space. We simply wanted to offer an alternative”.

And their success, they say, has been “humbling”. And that success comes as no surprise for there’s nothing pretentious or precious about what they’re doing. It’s simply good, healthy food and smiley service in a small space with recycled furnishings fronting an open kitchen and coffee servery inside and a few fold-away chairs around a table on the footpath.

They make everything in house from roasting their own coffee beans, making their low-sugar jams, bottled fruits and granola, baking four types of bread daily and serving food which is as innovative as it is flavoursome and appealingly presented. And what other menu in town offers “soft boiled eggs and soldiers” with the eggs dressed in colourful, knitted cosies?

But I must admit that, after lunch – and unlike many readers who might be regulars at Eumarrah Wholefoods – I needed the internet to understand a few of the things I’d eaten. Kefir, I learnt, is a fermented milk drink originally from the Caucasus Mountains. Served on their home-made super-seedy granola with fruit salad it was a lighter and more refreshing alternative to yoghurt.

I also learnt that hemp seeds will not give you a high; that bee pollen is a much more complex product than its name suggests; and that amaranth is a gluten-free protein favoured by the Aztecs and, in various forms, by many other peoples around the world. In addition to their excellent granola, one of the stand-out dishes for me was the miso-marinated wedges of grilled pumpkin dressed with walnut and preserved lemon-flavoured ‘couscous’ of raw cauliflower combined with tahini yoghurt.

Another was a honey-glazed half eggplant spiked with the famous chermoula spice mix from the Maghreb, beautifully cooked ‘til the flesh was meltingly tender and served with sweet and sour tomatoes, radicchio and toasted pine nuts. Other dishes include such items as activated buckwheat, pickled enokis, soy ricotta, date syrup, cashew cream and pesto, grilled haloumi and zucchini and squash pasta. In other words, the menu is a global assortment of ingredients and flavours very much in sync with today’s increasing emphasis on eating for health and well-being.

I’m not sure that I felt any healthier after my lunch, but I did enjoy what they are doing and I can fully appreciate why they’re so busy.

Fruit toast and jam $8.50; boiled eggs $10; marinated pumpkin $15; eggplant $16

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