Imagine sitting looking over the edge of a diving board; everything below is aquamarine, everything above is blue sky.
Except you’re seated in comfort, drinking in pristine views across the Derwent River in Hobart’s restaurant de jour. Scandinavian finishes and unconstrained nautical suggestions; a dining space where the kitchen is revered, a feature in itself. All aloft Hobart’s Brooke Street Pier.
Collaborator Asha Ram says Aloft is a partnership divided three ways.
“We’re two doctors with a passion for food, travel and fine things. We’re joined with Will Priestley who is experienced in start-ups, financials and owns Pilgrim Café; and co-head chef, Christian Ryan and his life/business partner Heiki Stanley,” Ms Ram says.
Asha Ram and Paul McCartney are lovers of eating out, lovers of Hobart’s waterfront and they love the energy that comes from the aspiration of their younger business partners.
Heavily invested in Tasmania through their own medical practices, Aloft is their way of giving something back to the place they’ve made their home this last 30 years. They also bring their exquisite eye for design to the partnership; advisers on style and a different demographic, helping create a space that will speak across age groups. Their aesthetic espouses balance and harmony; attention to detail that comes with experience rich in customer service and the care of others.
Christian Ryan is no stranger in Hobart’s food scene. He is a local boy made good, with a big heart for Tasmanian produce. Ryan and the MONA trained, Heiki Stanley, who will manage front of house, are most recently of Property of Pilgrim. Ryan has also trodden the boards of MONA’s The Source and graced the kitchens of Gordon Ramsay in London and Taxi Restaurant in Melbourne, where he worked with Aloft’s co-chef, Glenn Byrnes.
Byrnes is formerly of Vue de Monde and Rockpool Bar and Grill, Melbourne. His Tasmanian connection includes the renowned Garagistes.
Byrnes and Ryan will share their food passion in a Asian-influenced menu at Aloft. Ryan tells This Girl to expect bold punchy flavours that includes lots of citruses and herbs.
"We want to make Aloft a special experience for Tasmanians. When we can’t find Asian ingredients here we’ll be adding Tasmanian foods, so you’ll see a bullrush sambal for example. Instead of coconut which you can’t get in Tasmania, we’re using fig leaves which when cooked down give the same vibe,” Ryan says.
As a taster of bigger things to come, the Aloft team has just treated special guests to crispy pig ear with prickly ash and Schezuan pepper; white bait; beef carpaccio with Korean flavours; and Tasmanian oysters with candy and coriander; along with the mauve hues of the Derwent's twilight, hip-height lighting and a new Hobart chic.
For a dinner seating, expect a menu that is robust and contemporary in its presentation; seasonal but selecting from small harvests reflected in an ever changing menu.
“It will be a place you can eat at once a week, with small plates and larger plates, relaxed and fun,” Ram says.
Ryan concurs, “The menu is designed to eat around seven different things between two people. It’s divided into three sections: snacks for individuals; small dishes like entrees; and bigger dishes like whole flathead which is on our first menu which is enough for two to share.”
Priestley tells us snacks will start from around $5 to $11. Entrees $11 - $20 and mains from there upwards.
Wine is the focus of the drinks menu. With an abundance mentality at the fore, they want to complement what’s on offer downstairs with The Glass House’s exquisite cocktails. They are working with Chloe Proud from Tasmanian Juice Press and Will Priestley with his coffee focus to create a couple of signature drinks we can look forward to.
Aloft is an obvious tip of the hat to both the restaurant’s heady position and nautical connection. For Stanley and Ryan, its meaning also has another significance.
“Last year we went to Oslo. It reminded us of Hobart, a small town on the water. I wanted a name that connected us. I went looking for English words with old Norse roots and immediately found Aloft – to be standing in space,” Ryan said.
When asked what Ryan wants to achieve through Aloft, he’s momentarily taken back but recovers quickly to say that he wants to create a fun and relaxing vibe, a place people can go and have a good time.
“I want Aloft to be a place we’re proud of, a place we’d love to go out to and eat this food, a place where we can showcase ingredients that our diners may never have tasted before.”
Aloft will be taking bookings for dinner Tuesdays to Saturdays.
They will be opening early November.
Email or call them for a table at a soft launch dinner or for reservations to the public.
Telephone on 6223 1619.