What: Tasmania’s cold, tempestuous waters are rich in marine life—shellfish, deep-sea tuna, trout, salmon, abalone, you name it—so you’ll most definitely come across plenty of seafood on restaurant menus. As for preparation, whereas in years past the dining habits of Tasmanians have been what you’d consider “traditional” European, these days it’s much more interesting, with nods to Tasmania’s multicultural society and nearby regions such as Southeast Asia, Polynesia, and South America. Some call it pan-Pacific; others simply “modern Australian”—either way it’s an exciting new direction for Tasmanian cuisine, and the state’s rich array of seafood is a fabulous palette upon which for chefs to create. Raw, cured, grilled, fried: However you prefer your seafood, you’ll be spoiled for choice here.
Where: We love the approach taken by the good folks out at the Bangor Wine and Oyster Shed (20 Blackman Bay Rd., map). “Paddock to plate” is its mantra, and it delivers with a satisfying mix of both rustic (the lush picnic lawns) and modern (the stunning interior). Only a short drive outside Hobart, and en route to one of Tasmania’s premier tourist destinations, Port Arthur, it’s the perfect place to pull up and have a bite to eat in relaxed surroundings.
When: Daily, 10am-5pm
Order: Pictured are some freshly shucked oysters, which start at AU$10.50 for a “tasting trio” featuring Thai lime, soy and ginger, and mignonette—you need only peek outside to see the azure waters of Norfolk Bay and the Lease 160 oyster farm to know that these are as fresh as they come. If you’re passing through in the winter months, keep an eye out for the Tasmanian mussels tossed in a garlic, tomato, chorizo, and herb sauce; at $24 they’re the perfect partner to a bottle of the restaurant’s own “Jimmy’s Hill” Pinot Gris (or should that be the other way around?).
Other sure-bet seafood options here include the rich, creamy fish chowder ($18), and even local abalone when they can get their hands on it. It’s all seasonal, super fresh, and the perfect way to profile the seafood of Tasmania.
Alternatively: If it’s more “cheap and cheerful” seafood you’re after, look no further than Tasmanian Gourmet Seafoods (50 Loop Rd., map) out near the Hobart airport. The tiny shack and attached dining area don’t look like much from the outside, but don’t be fooled: They know a trick or two here! All of its seafood is sustainably sourced, with lobster the specialty. For a traditional Aussie lunch, choose the “Fish of the Day” with chips and salad ($15.90), or, for a true taste of Tasmania, get the half-lobster at market price.
For one of the most sublime dining experiences in Hobart, and an exciting insight into the future of Tasmanian dining, book yourself a table at Aloft (Brooke Street Pier, map). Combining foraged ingredients with locally harvested seafood, its “pescatarian banquet” ($75 per person) is a superb cross-section of Tasmanian seafood, prepared with intelligence and panache.
Good to know: Further afield, a half-hour drive south of Hobart will bring you to sleepy little Woodbridge. It is here that you can stop by the Woodbridge Smokehouse (59 Thomas Rd., map) and pick up some of the best smoked salmon and tuna you will ever taste in your life. No joke—if you fly first class in this area, there’s a good chance you would have tasted its products at 30,000 feet. If not, well, now’s your chance!