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Brooke Street Pier, Hobart
03) 6223 1619
Open: Tuesday to Saturday from 6.00 pm.

Perched atop the Derwent end of Brooke Street Pier, the expansive views of the river, the sky and seagulls riding the air currents seen through the floor-to-ceiling windows are fabulous and, walking in, you get quite a wonderful feeling of spaciousness.

Opened five weeks ago, the restaurant is a collaboration between Hobart doctors, Asha Ram and Paul McCartney, chef Christian Ryan and manager Heiki Stanley, both previously at Pilgrim Café in town and at MONA’s The Source.

With Scandinavian blond-timber décor and furnishings, a fully open kitchen and tables laid with designer ceramic ware and black chopsticks resting on beach stones, co-chefs Ryan and Glenn Byrnes are serving up some of the most innovative and exciting pan-Asian food and flavours that Hobart has seen.

Their savoury menu is composed of four small, essentially one-bite dishes, four dishes just large enough to share and three larger-sized dishes offering the sort of flexibility you find in menus throughout Asia where you construct your meal yourself according to what and how much you want to eat and to share. Or, if you like, you can treat the menu more traditionally as appetiser, entrée and main. Shortly, they will also be offering a set-priced menu and a tasting menu with matched wines.

Dinner started with dark Pigeon Whole bread and miso-whipped butter and strips of crisp and tender pigs ears dusted with the sweet/sour flavours of prickly ash. Then followed oyster and spanner crab with green chilli pickle and a crisp, panko-crumbed ball of Korean soondae-style black pudding deliciously spiced with Korean chilli pepper, anchovy, garlic and sesame oil. Then a complete surprise, fig leaf simmered in milk which amazingly tasted like and was used as a substitute for coconut in a classically spiced Thai prawn salad served on a golden tumeric wafer.

Then followed good wood ear and shiitake dumplings, crisp deep-fried quail with lime and pepperberry, a dish of assorted BBQ’d baby vegetables with seeds and watercress in a punchy chilli soy bean dressing and a fairly straight forward slow-roast pork, silverbeet and kunzea custard.

The only disappointment of the meal was the main dish of whole, deep-fried flathead where the sweet flesh of the fish was overwhelmed by the strong flavours and bite of pickled fennel and a creamy fig leaf/pepita satay sauce.

Ryan and Byrne say they’re presenting the sort of food they enjoy eating themselves highlighted by their use of lots of citrus, herbs, different flavoured vinegars and pickles and in highly complex combinations such as what for me was the star of the night – the tamarind paste in a dish of lamb sweetbreads.

Byrne says the paste starts with chillies, shallots and garlic toasted on the smoky dying embers of the BBQ at the end of service before being blended with ginger, dried shrimp, palm sugar, citrus and tamarind to produce a fabulously harmonious hit of robust flavours.

The service is excellent and knowledgeable the local and international beverage list is large and well selected and a coffee and condensed milk ice cream with puffed rice and sable crisps on palm sugar syrup was a pleasing finish.

But it’s the complexity and tangy deliciousness in both components and flavours in the food that sets Aloft apart and delivers a new and exciting interpretation of Asia to the Hobart scene.

Small serves $6.00 – $9.00; medium $16.00 – $20.00; large $32,00; dessert $12/$14.00

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