Hobart’s Institut Polaire is housed in a distinctly cosy space, with the proportions dictated by one of Hobart’s classic historic building, which abuts the Customs House Hotel. And while the hotel spills over multiple classified buildings, Institut Polaire occupies the ground floor of just one, with 30 guests squeezing the interior to capacity. But although…
There’s nothing demure about Blackbird. From its decadent Jazz Age fit out to the expansive views across the Brisbane River, taking in Story Bridge and the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, Blackbird is very confident about its message. The Gatsbyesque motif runs deep, with it informing the lavish pitch of the two bars and dining spaces, which cater for both intimate and more expansive experiences, right down to a flotilla of gold chesterfields on the river-front terrace.
The food here is described as ‘heritage Australian barbecue’, conceived by executive chef Jake Nicolson (Circathe Prince, Lake House, and The Vineyard, The Square and The Ledbury in London).The centrepiece of the kitchen is an Infierno grill imported from the USA–though it’s fuelled with local ironbark–which was designed by Dan Barber for his Blue Hill at Stone Barns. For those that like kitchen kit, it’s a piece of equipment that sends a shiver down the spine. As José Andrés says: “Until you have worked on something like this, you cannot know what a grill is.”
The focus is on sustainable seafood, dry-aged meats and locally grown and reared produce. And while these are all presented with a decent amount of Roaring 20s theatre, behind all the sheen and outward glamour, beats an environmentally conscious heart, with the ironbark for the grill obtained from sustainable sources and a compostable green waste program employed, amongst other measures.
As with the food offer, the wine list is extensive, taking in 500-odd offerings from around the world, with the guiding principal being that they should be great examples of variety, style and origin. This attitude also informs the approach to wine service. As Penny Grant, chief sommelier for the Ghanem Group, says:“Our wine service follows a simple philosophy: we are here to nail your brief. After all, you are the people drinking it. We are not here to oppose an agenda. We just want you to have a good and memorable time.”Hear, hear.