Savour island time

The Museum of Old and New Art.
The Museum of Old and New Art. Photo: Peter Mathew

After a lifetime spent relegated to the role of daggy provincial cousin, a new and not-so-sleepy Hobart has emerged, shaking off any last remnants of island inferiority complex and finding its feet as one of Australia's most celebrated culinary and cultural destinations. As the rest of the world starts to take notice, now is a prime time to get reacquainted.

It is no secret that David Walsh's ground-breaking Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) complex has been largely responsible for getting the party started in the harbourside city, and being named in Lonely Planet's top-10 city destinations for 2013 has further injected pep into the step of proud local residents and business owners.

As a consequence, interstate and international visitors are heading there in their droves and, although many of the city's sophisticated new food and lodging offerings are pitched at the high-end market, the service still comes with plenty of down-home island charm.

Strawberries, basil, native pepper and carraway thyme ice-cream at Garagistes.
Strawberries, basil, native pepper and carraway thyme ice-cream at Garagistes. 

One thing locals and visitors seem to agree on is the recognition of a special something about Tasmanian produce. Whether it's the fresh, ocean air, the clean water or just the slower pace of life, the local stuff seems to taste better in situ, and there is no better way to test the theory than with some freshly shucked Bruny Island oysters and a glass of good local fizz or a stroll through a produce market.

Whether it's honey or cheese, whisky or wine, the season's best is always proudly showcased in local markets, restaurants and provedores, and weekenders would be wise to allow luggage space for the return leg.

Apart from the tasty excess baggage, with so much to see, do and taste, the bigger issue is trying squeezing it all into a weekend stay. Here, then, are our top picks.

The Pigeon Hole Cafe in Hobart.
The Pigeon Hole Cafe in Hobart. Photo: Jessica Dale

DiningĀ 

Ethos Eat DrinkĀ 
Produce-obsessed chef Iain Todd has a keen eye on all that is seasonal, artisanal and local, provided in charmingly rustic, converted 1820s stables.
100 Elizabeth Street, Hobart. (03) 6231 1165. ethoseatdrink.com

Garagistes
Former Tetsuya's chef Luke Burgess has unquestionably thrust Hobart into the national dining consciousness, and with its no-bookings policy, moody interiors and outstanding menu, Garagistes is still Hobart's hottest ticket.
103 Murray Street, Hobart. (03) 6231 0558. garagistes.com.au

Smolt
Situated in the harbour-side precinct, Smolt's solid Spanish-influenced fare and undeniable approachability mean that it's a big hit with locals, and its buzzy atmosphere and excellent local mussels make it a sure-fire bet for visitors too.
2 Salamanca Square, Battery Point. (03) 6224 2554. smolt.com.au

Advertisement

The Source
MONA's elegant fine diner features outstanding contemporary French-inspired cuisine using local produce, coupled with great wine matches, beautiful Derwent river views and excellent service.
655 Main Road, Berriedale. (03) 6277 9904. mona.net.au

Cafes

Ecru
This super-cute hole-in-the-wall brew bar is a new outpost for nearby local cafe-roaster Villino and a perfect pit stop for a quick mid-morning fix.
18 Criterion Street, Hobart. 0448 738 014. ecrucoffee.com.au

Pigeon Hole
Set in a quaint former butcher's shop, this is the city's best sourdough bakery, supplying local restaurants and producing excellent coffee, breakfasts and pastries.
93 Goulburn Street, West Hobart. (03) 6236 9306. pigeonholecafe.com.au

Bill Lark at the Lark Distillery in Hobart.
Bill Lark at the Lark Distillery in Hobart. Photo: Peter Mathew

Pilgrim
Former Melbourne barista and world latte art champion Will Priestley is leading the charge in Hobart's emerging specialty coffee scene. Sourcing beans from Axil and Proud Mary et al, this is the place in Hobart for caffeine.
48 Argyle Street, Hobart. (03) 6234 1999. pilgrimcoffee.com

Sweet Envy
Former Gordon Ramsay pastry chef Alistair Wise is renowned for his eye-rollingly good patisserie items and house-made ice-cream.
341 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart. (03) 6234 8805. sweetenvy.com

Tricycle
This cheery little cafe in the Salamanca Arts Centre serves great coffee, lunches and old-school cakes in charming vintage style.
77 Salamanca Place, Hobart. (03) 6223 7228. facebook.com/TricycleCafeAndBarSalamanca

Smolt cafe's marinated olives.
Smolt cafe's marinated olives. 

Yellow Bernard
At this new-generation, shoulder-to-shoulder CBD espresso bar, you will find single origins and amazing macarons made by owner Scott Clements' mum.
109 Collins Street, Hobart. (03) 6231 5207. yellowbernard.com

Do

The Agrarian Kitchen
Get back to basics at this award-winning, self-sufficient farm and cooking school set in an historic schoolhouse. It pays to plan ahead.
650 Lachlan Road, Lachlan. (03) 6261 1099. theagrariankitchen.com

A Common Ground
Gourmet Farmer's Matthew Evans teamed up with mate, cheesemaker Nick Haddow, to open a tiny provedore filled with Tasmanian produce.
Shop 3, 77 Salamanca Place, Hobart. 0429 370 192. acommonground.com.au

Elizabeth St Food + Wine
This newly opened cafe and larder stocks Hobart's widest range of all-Tasmanian produce, from heirloom apples and pink-eye potatoes to organic quinoa, truffles and pickled Coal River Valley walnuts.
285 Elizabeth Street, Hobart. (03) 6231 2626. facebook.com/elizabethstreetfoodandwine

Gourmania Food Tours
Local in-the-know foodie Mary McNeill leads engaging full-day or half-day walking tours, taking in the best produce markets and the who's who of Hobart's coffee scene.
0419 180 113. gourmaniafoodtours.com.au

Hobart Farm Gate Market
Meet the makers and sample fresh local produce at this market every Sunday from 9am-1pm. Don't leave without queuing for Masaaki's sushi.
Corner Elizabeth and Melville streets, Hobart. 03 6234 5625. tasfarmgate.com.au

Lark Distillery
Bill Lark's superb locally distilled single malts are now ranked among the best in the world. Pop in for a quick tasting or settle in for the afternoon.
14 Davey Street, Hobart. 03 6231 9088. larkdistillery.com.au

MONA
David Walsh's Museum of Old and New Art is vast, challenging, world class and quite simply mind-blowing - it's a must-do.
651-655 Main Road, Berriedale. (03) 6277 9971. mona.net.au

Stay

Arthouse Salamanca 104 Salamanca Place, Battery Point. 0457 750 035. arthousesalamanca.com.au

Avalon City Retreat 152 Macquarie Street, Hobart. 1300 36 11 36. avalonretreats.com.au

Salamanca Wharf Hotel 17a Castray Esplanade, Hobart. (03) 6224 7007. salamancawharfhotel.com

Check all listings for opening hours.

The writer travelled as a guest of Tourism Tasmania. discovertasmania.com.au