Written Off at Written On Tea

Written On Tea, in Hobart’s Sandy Bay is a popular dumpling house renowned for its peculiar service and dodgy layout. Upon telling a mate that we were heading down for dinner in a large group, he told a story of ordering grilled calamari with mixed veg and receiving four bits of rubbery mess on steamed rice with four sautéed onions crudely diced. Needless to say, notwithstanding the company, I wasn’t pumped.

I was however keen to compare the dumplings to North Hobart’s Midori.  Midori crank out some pretttty sweet gyoza, a Japanese style dumpling, so they were going to be tough to beat. And they weren’t.  Written On Tea did an ok job, just not outstanding.

Now that’s out of the way.

Spare the chillis, they pack a punch.

That all being said, Written On Tea do a number of things well, and for these reasons, are worth a look in.

1. They’re quite cheap and it’s easy to share, but it’s not forced upon you.  Some places, such as Garagistes and Ethos, it is near impossible for those old school thinkers, who prefer their own meal and don’t wanna share it round, to be satisfied. At Written On, there’s something for everyone and it’s a great place for an introduction to Asian cuisine if you don’t wanna be pushed out of your comfort zone.

We shared two plates of pork dumplings (the first were definitely better having been fried a little more slowly), some steamed pork buns (kind of sloppy and not really worth it) and a chicken on the bone in a chilli and spud broth. The chicken was super tasty. Lots of spice and a fair bit of heat to warm things up. Lach chewed through one of the hot reds, and really paid the price. Certainly not for the faint-hearted.

2. The staff are a little odd at times, but clearly want to please and work really very hard. In hospitality, nothing beats the floor staff giving it a red hot go, even if they are a little bit shit. Maybe it’s just practise, or no clear boss.

3. It’s BYO with 3 buck corkage. For the ever present povo student, this is a massive plus. When you go out for dinner, nothing beats crackin’ a bottle of red and sharing it round. It’s a niche importantly filled in Hobart and particularly the Uni end of Sandy Bay.

And finally, it is busy. Like, always. I like a busy restaurant, with the hum of everyone chilling out at weeks end. Letting go and having a ball. That’s what dinner out should be. It should be fun. And fun it was.

A

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Pigeon Hole Bakery – a fine expansion.


A great combo.

There’d been a considerable amount of hype surrounding the opening of the Pigeon Hole Bakers leading up to last Sunday.  Not only have Jay and Emma been cranking out top notch coffee, eggs en cocotte, paninis amongst other delicious treats for some time, they’ve also been supplying bread across town for over a year.  Pigeon Hole bread is easily accessed at Hill St Grocers and is used by Pilgrim Coffee, to name a couple of high profile customers since that project began.

But there’s something nice about buying the goods from the source.

And so, on Sunday, we headed out to Moonah to see where all the good stuff was baked in the wee hours of the morning.

A tidy little doughnut was light and fluffy with a creamy, yet not overly intense hazelnut cream held within. My companions were impressed with the cookies and stoneground sourdough, whereas I decided to tackle the fruit and nut loaf.  The nut loaf was surprisingly dense and moist, but not in a bad way, in a ‘whack on some blue gum honey and you’ll be laughing’ way. The hand rolled baguettes didn’t disappoint either. Crisp and tasty, just delicious.

Emma serving up those delightful hazelnut doughies.

As with their Goulburn St café, Jay and Emma have made the decor simple and tasteful with large heavy doors opening up onto the courtyard carpark. The fresh smell of varnished wood hit my nose and reminded me of an old boat builder I know. It’s a smell I always associate with home.

Sometimes when restaurateurs subscribe to the less is more approach, the setting can end up feeling bare at worst and minimalist at best.

Pigeon Hole manages to do a whole lot with not much, and that is why the homely vibe is cosy but not kitsch. Whilst being a little disappointed that Emma wasn’t working the espresso for that early morning jolt, it made sense. It’s their day off too. And for some reason, that made the first jaunt north all the more worthwhile.

Pigeon Hole Bakers has an unassuming shop front that doesn’t look like it’s been done up since the Antoinette said let them eat cake. But that’s ok – the small opening provides exactly what you want. The feeling that contained within, are people that love their work, employees that enjoy their bosses company and vice versa.  The sound of laughter, the smell of fresh bread and tasty treats. Gee, listen to me gush.

I’ve been a committed fan of Pigeon Hole and the formula they adopt to get people coming back for some time – good food, coupled with a local vibe. It’s unpretentious and in that, gets you to try things you may otherwise baulk at.

If you’re free on Sunday, get out to Pigeon Hole Bakers on 138 Hopkins St, Moonah. They’re open 9-1pm. So even if you’re feeling a bit dusty early on, the doughies will still be cookin’ away well after you can claim you’re after a late brekky.

A

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