The Glasshouse

Licensed $-$$$   Hat iconHat icon   Glass iconGlass icon
Main deck, Brook Street Pier, Hobart
0437 245 540
Open: Noon to midnight Tuesday to Saturday, to 10pm Sunday and Monday.

“It’s like any Qantas lounge”, said a friend. Well, it’s not. Nor is it what you might expect of a restaurant, as such. Instead, they call it a ‘dining bar’. But it’s more bar than dining and, in its disparate lounge chair seating, lighting, colours and decorative components, unified as they are only by the fabulous view, it’s more in the style of the swanky bars you find sitting atop the latest high rise in Dubai, Singapore or Hong Kong.

Hand-blown Murano glassware from Venice on display along with a collection of antique glasses from Tasmania, copper-topped marble bar fronting a glowing, ceiling-high spirit cabinet and…. Well they describe it all better than I can. “Soft leather banquettes, arm chairs in frosted green and Jim Thompson fabric against beaten silver tables to balance the light. Reflections in the bronze tops of the marble bars and House of Hackney covered settees with irreverent prints of marsupials having a party worthy of the Mad Hatter. A bronze mirrored reflective ceiling above the brown leather bar stools and lush rugs. An avenue of backlit beauty of the Murano glass display and glass pedestals stacked with shaved ice and oysters”.

They say that’s the only way they can compete with the view, especially at night when the floor-to-ceiling windows provide a dazzling interplay of lights from inside and those on the harbour. Needless to say, Hobart has not seen anything quite like it before.

However, the food and food styling are much more familiar – a limited menu of small, shared dishes artfully presented on designer plates. The man responsible is Executive Consulting Chef, Ikuel Arakane, formerly of Melbourne’s once highly regarded Taxi restaurant and widely known as Kin San from his involvement in the Iron Chef. He travels down two or three times a month to see that things are on track and to introduce new dishes to the menu. Still finding his way around Tasmania’s specialist products and producers, the menu and food, he says, is a work in continual progress.

The man in the heat of the kitchen however is Dong Chu Lim from Korea. And, like the chefs themselves, the food is very much Asian accented, mainly with Japanese saucing and spicing but also with bulgogi – Korean beef BBQ, Thai namjin and yuzu koshu, a vibrant Korean and Japanese cross-cultural condiment.

The most interesting dish of our evening was the Tetsuya-inspired confit of ocean trout which the kitchen had treated quite differently to Tet’s method. The result was quite different too with the flesh beautifully moist but flakier than Tet’s version. Topped somewhat superfluously with trout tartare along with sweet miso and wasabi, it was ocean trout at its very best.

While the presentation across all dishes was eye catching, the prettiest, if not the most original, dish of the night was a baby beetroot, sheep cheese and quinoa salad with orange miso dressing which tasted as good as it looked.

Four oysters were taken from their ice bath display, shucked and presented natural, topped with a deliciously fresh ponzu, wakame and cucumber salad, a tingly red namjin and, less successfully, with pear, citrus and vodka granita. Perfectly plump and briny, the oysters were an opportunity to sample two of the six different house sake, on the waiter’s knowledgeable suggestion, the dewazarkura sake and the karesanui sake. A great suggestion.

A pair of steamed bao (buns) filled with Cape Grim bulgogi were properly light and fluffy with the richness of the filling nicely cut by a side of pickled carrot and daikon. And two skewers of fairly ordinary yakitori chicken need the lift of an accompanying serve of spiced spinach. Other savoury menu options included salmon sashimi, grilled fish, pork belly, lamb loin, a scotch fillet and thick cut chips.

So, all told, it’s a menu collection of what’s hot around town, generally done well with a few highlights but nothing to match the eclectic swankiness of its surrounds. But, with excellent service and a top range of spirits, quality mixers and wines you can luxuriate and make a snacking dinner of it as we did or it would be the ideal spot to start or finish the night.

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