Kobi Ruzicka had a wine bar concept in the mental planning stage for quite some years, but it was the opportunity to lease the site adjoining his acclaimed Hobart restaurant, Dier Makr, that finally saw it realised. The exit of the café was well timed, as Ruzicka’s restaurant was soaking up a good bit of the potential wine bar trade, with few nearby late-night options for serious wine drinkers. The menu was already catering for drinkers with wine-friendly snacks, but the dual concepts needed their own breathing space.
Housed on the Collins Street frontage of the building, Lucinda has similar heritage bones to Dier Makr, with the pressed tin ceilings and hardwood floors now complemented by a long timber bar. There’s no low-lying seating here, with stools providing perches along the bar and at a room-encircling shelf that will take a glass of wine and small plate of food, which is exactly what Lucinda is all about.
While Dier Makr is a degustation only dining experience, and one of the most celebrated in Tasmania, Lucinda offers an ever-changing list of small and larger share plates. Aside from the less prescriptive, linear way of eating, the ethos of the menu is a mirror of its elder sibling, with an unwavering focus on ethical, organic and local produce.
“Our plates do tend to lean towards a French caves à manger vibe,” says Ruzicka, “including terrine de campagne, chou farci, quenelles with crab sauce and truffle crème caramel … and gougères are a new staple. We bake off several batches throughout the evening, and they’re definitely here to stay.”
The wine offer heads very much down a ‘natural’ line, with a heavy representation of coveted international lo-fi bottlings. Ruzicka writes up about 35 wines for a working list, but he has a growing collection of bottles in the cellar, with over 300 extra bins. On any given day, he’ll pop open about 10 wines to pour by the glass, sometimes more, sometimes less. But there’s no structure here, with the direction of the offer determined as the day progresses deep into the night. Lucinda emerged out of Ruzicka’s frustration that there was nowhere for him to go after work, now at least everyone else has somewhere to go.
COVID-19 conditions: Lucinda’s pivot during the lockdown, listing their substantial collection of sought-after lo-fi wine on a new website (they’ve even added their own website for the bar, but still no phone) is there for good. A cellar full of supplies for Dark Mofo necessitated that, with the result a win for all. There’s also another exciting reason to visit Lucinda right now. “Our friend Analiese Gregory has been taking over the Lucinda kitchen every Friday lunch,” says Ruzicka. “Friday lunches are a highlight,” says Ruzicka, “with Analiese Gregory taking over the kitchen each week to create anything from katsu sandwiches to mapo tofu and some fun wine and cocktail matches that have proved popular with locals looking for a fun lunch option.”