Some years back, Christian McCabe left behind successful restaurant Matterhorn, in Wellington, to try his luck across the Tasman. That first venture was the celebrated, though now closed, Town Mouse in Drummond Street, Carlton. Along with Town Mouse chef and co-owner Dave Verheul (a Matterhorn alumnus), McCabe branched out further, and more boldly, in 2016….
Housed in one of Hobart’s classic buildings at 100 Elizabeth Street (formerly the Hobart Hotel, circa 1850), Ettie’s is a very modern embodiment of how we like to eat and drink these days. Carl Windsor and James Kingston come with a fair bit of pedigree in this sphere, having founded the perennially busy Willing Brothers Wine Merchants, further up Elizabeth Street in North Hobart.
From Willing Brothers’ friendly frenzy, Ettie’s takes on a slightly more serene feel. The grace of the historic sandstone building plays a part in this, as does the fitout, which is sympathetically modern, with warm timber tones, blackened steel and polished concrete floors. The theatrically black walls of the wine bar and shop – where you can drink in or take away any of the 250 wines – give way to white render and duck egg blue wood panelling in the dining room, with tables alternating between linen and polished timber. There’s also a courtyard space and lounge.
The bar food runs to terrine, parfait, oysters smoked almonds and the like, with a good selection of imported cheeses. The lunch menu in the dining spaces takes in the bar offerings and adds some small and larger plates, which are described sparingly: kingfish, cucumber, buttermilk; orecchiette, winter greens, anchovy; crumbed pork loin, slaw. And dinner sees the offer upped even further, including a slow-roasted lamb shoulder with seasonal trimmings for two, along with steaks frittes, which is a signature shared between the two venues.
The wine selection leans to the local, though crosses the world, too. Minimal intervention and organic makers are well represented, but there’s no hard and fast rule on this, with pretty much any shade of wine drinker catered for. The local theme extends to the back bar, too, with 15 Tasmanian gins on offer, along with all the classics.