Fico Bistro and Vino

Licensed $-$$   Hat iconHat iconHat icon   Glass iconGlass icon
151 Macquarie Street, Hobart
03) 6245 3391
Open: Dinner Tuesday 5pm to 10pm, lunch and dinner Wednesday to Saturday, long lunch noon to 4pm on Sunday.

After a search across two continents and a lot of hard work, Federica Andrisani and Oskar Rossi opened Fico Bistro and Vino five days before Christmas. What had been a dingy takeaway and newsagency, they have transformed into a wonderfully airy space with the white on white décore brightened by large vases of flowers and decorated with artworks and murals by Rossi’s father, Tom Samek. There’s a semi-open kitchen, a beautifully long timber bar with stools, well-spaced tables, modulated background music with the wine cellar being the vault of a bank that once occupied the premises.

Readers may remember the occasional pop-up dinners and events that Andrisani and Rossi ran in Hobart during their visits here from Italy over the past couple of years. What distinguished their food on those occasions was the exceptional quality of their pasta, their food’s artful presentation and their use of exemplary produce to deliver Italian-accented dishes that were refined and simply delicious to eat.

As many of our new restaurants focus on flashy novelty, Fico bucks the trend in offering something more mature and satisfying – real food in inspired combinations of a few simple components flowing from a less-is-more ethos similar to that which makes eating at Templo such a delight.

Fico’s menu is fairly bare-boned in its food descriptions leaving it to the knowledgeable and attentive staff to fill in the gaps on such rarely seen items as the famed, small, black taggiasche olives from Liguria and, a first for me, green turnip tops either pureed on crostini or as a delicious partner to pan-seared tongue and beetroot.

Instead of selecting from the a la carte menu or specials board, at lunch we chose to go with the menu’s suggestion of “let us cook for you six dishes $65pp”.

Excellent crusty, house-made bread and thin grissini came with the unusual but wonderfully refreshing sharpness of clear tomato water as a dip.

This was followed by crunchy chickpea polenta delicately flavoured with lemon and rosemary followed in turn by brioche with savoury smoked eel garnished with the briny tang of salmon roe and seaweed.

Next came a superb beer and onion risotto creamed either with Tallegio or 36-month-old Parmesan and, to follow, a visually arresting and wonderfully flavoured dish of zucchini flower filled with ricotta served on concentric puddles of tomato and basil sauce making up the tricolours of the Italian flag.

Then, off the specials board, we added a half pigeon with mushrooms, beetroot and bay leaf. The pigeon came with its breast perfectly cooked rare – as it should be – its leg and claw attached to serve, if you wished, as a handle.

Lunch rounded off with two outstanding desserts – a warm, wonderfully light and fluffy pistachio soufflé with vanilla crème anglais and a French-inspired white chocolate and peach coulant. Both were delicious, technical triumphs and, for someone like me who usually skips desserts, this time I was pleased I hadn’t.

Wine distributors, friends and local wineries have dug deep into their cellars for French, Italian and Tassie wines to include on a list that, at this stage, is smallish but full of interest including, as it does, a number of aged wines of impeccable repute.

So, all in all it was a most enjoyable lunch, up there among the city’s very best and least pretentious dining experiences.

Bread and grissini $5, oysters $3.50, smoked eel $8, rabbit and goose rillettes $16, more substantial dishes $28/$29, cheese $12, desserts $10

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