Arguably, Hobart’s most anticipated restaurant, Aloft has met the high expectations levelled at it and some.
With the talented and experienced Glenn Byrnes by his side, Hobart’s Christian Ryan has transitioned from edgy-café to contemporary high-end restaurant chef. Together, they have crafted a contemporary menu, seasonal and Tasmanian, with Asian influences.
Small tastes prime the appetite. All other dishes on the menu would be delighted if you shared them, but otherwise are conventionally portioned as entrees, mains and desserts.
The Lovely Cathy and This Girl ventured into the menu with the reverence it deserved and the excitement of a birthday – what exquisite plates would reveal themselves to us?
Each plate was presented to the table one at a time, allowing us to appreciate the experience in detail – the architecture of the construction, the colours of the components, and the tastes and smells of the composite.
And so we began. We both ate the prawn, fig leaf and turmeric wafer, $5.
BBQ vegetables, grains and chili soy bean, $15
Crispy quail, pepperberry and lime, $18
Whole fried flathead, fennel, pepita satay, $28
Roast pork, silverbeat and kunzea custard, $30
Coffee and condensed milk ice cream, $12
Pear, anise and yoghurt, $14
The menu is a solid ensemble and it seems unjust to pick out a star when each performer excelled effortlessly. In This Girl’s view however, the BBQ vegetables and the condensed milk ice cream were the standouts.
Vegetarian plates are often under underwhelming. The BBQ vegetables were a vegetarian dish with distinction: newborn carrots, leeks, broccoli; the texture of sunflower seeds, spelt and whole wheat; the embellishment of watercress and nasturtium; and the heat of fermented soy bean chilli.
Similarly, Byrne’s condensed milk ice cream creation, was a harmonious presentation of textures, colours and tastes: puffed rice and quinoa and sable crisps; creamy milk juxtaposed with bitter coffee syrup; and nestled underneath, to my delight, a palm sugar syrup.
The pancake was fat with prawn and coconut, highlighted with the Thai flavours of lime, coriander, mint and fish sauce.
The whole flathead was accompanied by fennel done two ways, Szechuan pickle and fig leaf cream. Pepita lends itself to lighter, vegetal tones, but the satay was still stiff competition for the sweet fleshed fish.
The roast pork included jowl, shoulder and skin as noodles, the silverbeet was so lightly braised it held its shape, and the kunzea custard provided a subtle accompaniment to the dish.
Ryan’s dessert, vanilla and anise poached pear atop pear cake was plated with a sheep’s milk yoghurt so light from aeration it practically floated.
It was clear why Aloft's design works so well. Save the view of the river Derwent, there were no distractions from the plates in front of you.
To complement the austere aesthetic, tables were set with handcrafted Tasmania ceramics. At each setting, fine pointed chopsticks rested on an Orford beach stone, referencing the Asian leanings of the restaurant. When cutlery was required, Ole Pasby’s Japanese Danish designed utensils were produced: titanium matte, fine brutal tools, a match for the task ahead: a plate of detailed production and robust flavours.
With the exceptional Heiki Stanley at the helm, the floor was in competent hands. Staff moved effortlessly through the space, comfortable with the menu and espousing a charm that was warming.