While I was home in Hobart over Christmas I finally made it to Ethos Eat Drink, a restaurant I’ve been hearing incredible things about since it opened almost three years ago. From Hobart locals, to Melbourne foodies and almost every magazine in the country everyone has been raving about this quaint little restaurant, “You know, the one down the alleyway” they said.
After a little research I realised (in a classic Tasmanian moment) I actually went to school with owner Chloe Proud, who owns and runs the restaurant with her partner, head chef Iain Todd. One Facebook message later and I was booked and ready to go! So finally, finally a few weeks later I made my way down the alleyway and was blown away by the rustic charm, the impeccable service, the décor, and of course, the food…. Oooh the food!
Ethos offers a six or eight course set menu using fresh, locally sourced produce. Below is the set menu I ate on the night of my visit. I skipped the wine due to my grape allergy (yes I’m allergic to grapes, let’s move on).
Menu Friday 3rd January 2014
amuse – parsnip chips + crème friache
Sauteed le ratte potato + grated lomo
2010 Riversdale Estate ‘Crater’ Chardonnay, Coal River Valley, Tasmania
Bruny Island oysters two ways – black pudding crumbs + garlic vinaigrette
2009 Mount Langi Cliff Edge Riesling, Great Western, Victoria
smoked angus beef, charred eggplant puree, pickled onions + sunrose
2001 Grove Estate Nebbiolo Primativo, Young, New South Wales
house made charcuterie, mustard + pickles
2010 Grove Estate Nebbiolo Primativo, Young, New South Wales
cottachino, pickled octopus , baby turnips + brioche panagratta
2012 Sorrenberg Gamay, Beechworth, Victoria
roasted Bruny Island pork, charred carrot puree, baby carrots + golden peas
2010 Box Grove Roussanne, Avenal, Victoria
sorrel sorbet, candied pumpkin, meringue, salted toffee, raspberry + olive oil puree + dehydrated raspberry powder
2009 Craigow dessert Gewurztaminer, Coal River Valley, Tasmania
house made mars bar – that one wasn’t on the menu it was just a special treat for me and was oooooooh SO delicious! Thanks Iain.
I don’t claim to be a foodie so I won’t ‘review’ for you, but if this were a review the Bruny Island Oyster with garlic vinaigrette was five stars. In fact, I got so excited just looking at it I forgot to take a photo! See, I could never be a food blogger #oohpsateitalready
Chloe and Iain have done an amazing job converting this historic Hobart site into a restaurant filled with character, charm and damn good food. Here’s a little interview I did with the lovely Chloe Proud, an incredibly intelligent young women who is passionate about the Tasmanian food industry and food sustainability – definitely made me stop and think about my food choices!
What is your background in the food industry?
I wish I could say that this industry has always been my passion- I’m sure in some ways it has – who doesn’t love delicious things and lovely dining rooms, but the truth is my immersion stemmed from funding my way through university with waitressing and bartending jobs.
My first degree largely focused on Environmental and Political Science- where I began to harness a more comprehensive education in and understanding of the nature and impact of human consumption.
This rendered me a bit jaded and at a bit of a loss as to where to pursue career options from an academic perspective. Meanwhile, working in a local restaurant was proving exciting and educational, both from a business management and food/wine perspective, but also made me begin to learn that we can affect consumer behavior through the culture of food- something I am incredibly passionate about.
You have found an absolute gem of a location, hidden down a rustic alleyway its almost as though you are on a little farm in the country not in the middle of Hobart’s CBD. How did you come across the space and how much time and work went into the renovations?
We are incredibly blessed to have had an existing business relationship with the owner of the entire building, 100 Elizabeth Street. So when he discovered the site was part of the occupancy here, Iain and myself came on board as consultants to convert it into a café-type space. Our space is an 1820’s built stables and carriageway that had been blocked off and used as a private tip for 100 odd years.
We both took one look at the building, fell in love and the rest is history. The renovations were about 18 months long including time for archiologists and heritage to go through the site and document its significant history. The development process was collaboration between all of us to ensure the site could operate while retaining its original features, many of which are heritage listed.
Ethos has been up and running for a almost three years now. How has the business changed and evolved over time?
Every way possible! We have gone from offering a small plate, tapas style menu which was written for the seasons, to a daily changing 6 or 8 course menu that features best and freshest of what comes in from our local suppliers.
We have spent these last few years developing friendships and loyalty with very small scale, specialist and artisan producers so we can feature unique and pristine Tasmanian produce on our plates.
How important is it to the team at Ethos to support local Tasmanian produce?
It is everything to us. Without it we cease to have a purpose and justification in what we do. By taking our staff to meet the growers, hear their stories and see their operations, I think it enhances their appreciation for the delicious food they produce and for the livelihoods of these people.
People for the most part have become incredibly disconnected to the source of their food. They will happily relish the bargains at the supermarket without considering that they might indicate the financial loss of a farmer or the mistreatment of an animal in order to make something that cheap. Our support of local producers is a decision that is reinforced by quality of produce as well and an acknowledgment of the necessity for people to reconsider which businesses and sets of ethics they are willing to support to feed themselves. The future lies in local products that put minimal constraints on the environment and maximize the stability of the economy.
You can’t beat fresh Tasmania seafood and on the day I visited I was lucky enough to be treated to the most incredibly fresh and not to mention huge Bruny Island oysters, as well as an amazing pickled octopus which apparently used to be chucked back overboard by the fisherman until you came along and rescued it (my taste buds are thanking you!). Have you had many accidental discoveries like this?
We follow a waste not/want not way of operating at Ethos- so we tend to have these kinds of discoveries all the time. Our chefs have worked really hard to train themselves into a different way of thinking about food. The best restaurant food does not have to be the most expensive thing money can buy, but can be the simplest ingredients that are made the most delicious with clever technique.
Recent examples are year old carrots some farmer friends would have used for compost, our chefs roasted them for 14 hours them fried them like fritters- they were sweet yet earthy, texturally unique and deliciously special. We have another good friend growing strawberries, who was amazed when we volunteered to come out at the end of the season and pick all the unripe berries. They have an amazing sour/green profile that we used for pickles, verjuice, garnish etc. Again, something exciting to see people react to, as they wouldn’t normally think to eat it.
What is the Ethos Ethos?
The term ‘ethos’, to me references a collective consciousness and culture. I think, inexplicably for us, we hope Ethos represents a necessary change in people’s attitudes towards what they eat. As something that unites all people and represents one of, if not the largest impact humans have had on the environment through agriculture- the return to real food and appreciation of what it takes to get it onto your plate, for us is the key to beginning to address issues with health, waste, economy and resource constraints.
We source locally and make in house wherever possible and continue to evolve and expand to do so more and more. It is one of our greatest points of difference as a business that we offer a comprehensive range of customised products, but terrifies me a bit that more people aren’t doing this. Not only does it end up being a cost effective way of operating once these systems are in place, but I think they are so much more delicious. I guess we hope to continue to grow and prove that this is a realistic and feasible way for other businesses to operate.
Keep up the amazing work guys! Farmers market for me from now on!