It’s with mixed opinions that Small Fry has entered Hobart’s culinary landscape. Which to believe?
The seething hordes that converge en masse every morning, hoping to be one of the lucky few that score themselves a couple of freshly fried gourmet doughnuts? Think Turkish delight, apple crumble, choc-mint, pumpkin pie or fruit tingle…!!
Or do you believe Graeme Phillips, esteemed food critic and regular contributor to the Food and Wine section of the local rag, infamously proclaiming his Small Fry cassoulet as “disappointing”…?
I know for a fact the opinion of proprietor and chef Rhys Hannan. When asked what he thought of the GP review, he looked me straight in the eye and replied, “Which review was that?”.
Graeme is often on the money, but in this instance I feel he’s either missed the point, or got them on a bad evening.
Bookings aren’t taken, but at 6pm on a Friday evening there wasn’t a problem walking off the street and straight onto a couple of stools at the bar. And what a bar it was! What they lack in size, they make up for with an intimate dining environment in which it isn’t a constant battle to make yourself heard, and where you can take in every little step of your meal being prepared only centimetres in front of you!
We perused the menu cubes, and after listening to Rhys’ offsider Cade give an excellent description of each dish, decided to kick our evening off with with their namesake ($6) and a couple of glasses of Relbia sparkling.
A great choice for a starter! The lemon added some real zing, mingling well with the crispy, salty little baitfish, lifting the dish and whetting our appetites. I would have liked the chilli to be a little bit more prominent, but that’s a minor quibble.
For mains, Karen was keen to try the Boeuf au Jus ($24), while I decided to get a little cray cray and lose my Bloody Mary virginity with the Mary ($25).
What can I say…?
Innumerable times have I experienced ham-fisted attempts at smoked proteins, yet in this instance it was actually accomplished with both skill and finesse. Hints of dusky fruits lingering on the palate, yet never overwhelming the essential flavours of the pillow-soft slices of beef. A drizzle of rich, flavoursome jus to accompany the beef and soften the sourdough and you have one incredible combination of flavours! As if that wasn’t enough, you also have the opportunity to spice things up a little with some delightfully tart pickles and warm seeded mustard on the side. How I wish I had ordered this dish…!
I had never tried a Bloody Mary, and you know what? I doubt I ever will again!
I’ve never been much of a fan of tomato juice, but you’ve got to try everything at least once, right?
I guess it wasn’t too bad, and the tray chock full of condiments for me to mix into my cocktail made for a lot of fun experimentation (let’s just say that the horseradish probably wasn’t necessary!), but at the end of the day it’s still spiced tomato juice with a kick.
The slider, on the other hand, was delicious! Using the same beef that was served to Karen, the decadently rich brioche, lettuce and aioli(?) made for one thoroughly enjoyable meal.
Together with the slider was a very tasty skewer of what I think was shaved, fried pork..? When frying up bacon at home I occasionally indulge myself by leaving the bacon rind in the frying pan until it gets a fantastic, oily crunch…This skewer reminded me of these exploits, but with a level of refinement I could never hope to replicate!
To finish off, I had saved the pickle skewer. A great decision as it turned out! The spiced Vietnamese cucumber exploded in my mouth with a burst of heat that swiftly dissipated as I munched away on its more benign cousins. It’s probably not meant to be a palate cleanser for consumption at the end of the meal, but I thought it was the perfect finish to a really enjoyable meal.
If it’s a menu as long as your arm that you’re after, or a joint that’s jumping with the hubbub of dozens of patrons, then Small Fry is not the place for you!
An intimate atmosphere, the simple pleasure of watching and chatting with a chef at work, and bespoke dishes for the discerning diner are what Small Fry offer. The menu is constantly changing, as much to keep their own creative juices flowing as it is to make the most of Tasmania’s seasonal produce!
We loved it. I’m sure we’ll be back again sometime soon!
For more information, drop by their Facebook page here.
Alternatively, their ‘temporary’ website can be found here.
As I’ve already mentioned, it’s worth noting that they don’t take bookings.
Opening hours are:
Mon to Fri: 7:30am – 3:30pm
Sat: 8:30 – 3:30pm
Flavours – 9/10
Menu – 8/10
Ambience – 9/10
Service – 10/10
Value – 8.5/10
Overall – 9/10
Online presence – 7.5/10