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Sunday 18 June 2017

Fico: One place you really must eat in Hobart

Hobart is all grown up now; the one-time culinary wasteland is awash with fun and interesting places to dine, including Templo, Aloft, Franklin and Glass House. 

If you have just one night in which to dine, however, and want to see what is attracting locals (even on Tuesday nights) let me direct you to Fico Bistro and Vino; six months old and now fully into its stride. 

This is a grown-up restaurant with adult food, but also with a sense of whimsy and top-notch service from a floor team that seems entirely European. Professionalism and product knowledge rules.

Fico is the brainchild of Oskar Rossi, the son of leading Hobart artist Tom Samek, and his chef partner Federica Andrisani, who started with pop-up events before opening their own place on Macquarie Street. 

The food is, as you'd expect, Italian-accented, but with nods to both Australia and Australia in terms of flavours. You can order a la carte, or pay $65 (a bargain, given prices in Sydney and Melbourne) for the "let us cook for you option". 

So let them cook - and of a total of eight small dishes that arrived, virtually every one of which was a tour de force of flavour, texture and balance. 

You are never quite sure of what you are going to get, with the menu following the short-hand style of squid, sunflower, lardo; or blini, smoked eel. 

It's a little hipster, but not achingly so. 

The dishes arrived well spaced; first kingfish soy gel, wasabi (two scrumptious slivers), then a modern take on sardines on toast. 

We began with a very good Mediterranee rosé from the south of France ($12 a glass) and then after these two dishes ordered a bottle of the Terre de Pierres Macon-Villages, minerally crisp in style of Chablis ($65). 

The wine choices ranged from reasonably priced Italian and Tasmanian wines to some serious credit card busters (and only a couple of "natural" options, praise the Lord).

Bug tail carpaccio with shiso and rhubarb was one lowlight, lacking in distinctive flavours, but we were wowed by taleggio tortellini with mushroom, some ultra thin grissini and the aforementioned squid, sunflower and lardo. 

A whole grilled flounder with ginger sauce shone - and we finished our savoury courses with going near any red meat - although whole pigeon was on offer as a daily special.

Desserts were chocolate, coffee and mandarin; and quince, bay, white chocolate and lemon. Distinctly different and both downright delicious.

I'm late getting to Fico; Graeme Phillips and John Lethlean have long ago praised it with similar enthusiasm. But standards have clearly been maintained. 

Totally satisfactory - and exactly what a good restaurant should be.

Fico Bistro and Vino, 151 Macquarie Street, Hobart. (03) 6245 339. www. Lunch Wed-Sat; dinner Tue-Sat. 

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