Friday, February 3, 2012

A Taste of Tasmania, part 1 of 4

Pigeon Hole Cafe

Address: 93 Goulburn Street, Hobart, Tasmania, 7000

Phone: (03) 6236 9306

Open: Tuesday to Saturday, 8am until 4.30pm

After trudging around Salamanca Market in Hobart and sampling everything we could get our grubby little hands on, we were, somehow, still hungry. It was lunchtime, after all. But the crowds had the same idea and we found ourselves grumbling about most eateries resembling a tin of sardines. On top of that, most of the cafés in Salamanca Square were either too fancy or void of atmosphere, so we consulted Urbanspoon. Pigeon Hole Café was only a short drive away, so we headed west. What a wonderful decision.

Situated beside a gallery with a wooden picnic-style table and a bicycle out the front, Pigeon Hole gallery is an oasis just out of the main drag. They serve breakfast, lunch, coffee and freshly baked bread, and all with a Midas touch. With about 20 seats, Pigeon Hole declare, “We are small but proud of what we do.”

Step inside the cosy space and the amiable staff behind the front counter will immediately greet you. Half the bench top is consumed by the silver La Marzocco espresso machine and the rest by a cabinet stuffed with the daily rolls, huge fluffy meringues, seeded slices, cakes, fruit tarts and more. Above the window that peers through to the kitchen is a shelf full of freshly baked bread. I dare you to leave without a loaf.

There is a medium sized table in the front window and a couple of two-seaters down the narrow side of the shop. A shelf of cookbooks, glasses and jars of produce line the tight walkway, where you’ll find the entrance to the kitchen.

Towards the back is the toilet cubicle, where lovely vintage papers plaster the walls – it passes the time admirably! The gorgeous sink, adorned with white flowers and a mirror, is in the same area as the tables… so everyone will know if you don’t wash your hands!

A pale aquamarine feature wall can be found at the rear of the shop alongside two large pinewood tables with matching bird print stools. Each can accommodate eight people.

The menu is scribbled on a blackboard at the front of the café and changes depending on the seasonality of ingredients and what local producers are growing. Head chef Jay Patey works miracles from the miniscule kitchen. Our rowdy group of Melburnian brunch snobs were not only satisfied after our meal, we were beside ourselves with delight.

I had the beetroot, cumin and labnah soup, which was served with Pigeon Hole’s famed sourdough bread. Even the butter was beautifully presented in spirals of rich naughtiness. Aside from being a fantastic colour, the soup was full of flavour and fitted into the category of ‘borscht’.

From the sandwich department came the corned beef, pickled zucchini and fontal Panini. It was toasted golden with velvety cheese melted over the tender beef. The pickled zucchini added some freshness alongside the homemade seeded mustard, which popped in the mouth. There were two other Paninis available on the day we visited: a salami, Spanish onion and provolone cheese option; or an eggplant, spring onion, thyme and chèvre cheese creation.

The other lunch alternative was the small plate of Ortiz anchovies, crostini and lemon; but no way was my brother was going to eat anchovies! Instead, he decided on the eggs en cocotte with jamon, soused onion, mizuna and Grana. The serving was modest in size but nonetheless very tasty. The eggs were baked in a terracotta bowl with strips of ham and tangy onion. A pile of mizuna rested on top of the dish and was doused with a generous sprinkle of Grana cheese. As an alternative, the eggs en cocotte also came with Taleggio, preserved lemon and parsley.

The remainder of the breakfast menu looked equally as delish: Pigeon Hole’s stone-ground sourdough or fruit toast with Miellerie honey and jam; Heidi Farm Raclette cheese and onion agrodolce Panini; Vegetarian baked beans on sourdough toast; or Natural yoghurt, local grapefruit, rapadura (form of dried sugarcane juice) and gingerbread crunch.

After our meal, we couldn’t resist the homemade sweets. Upon the recommendation of our understanding and efficient waitress (our water glasses were constantly refilled), we indulged in a chocolate friand and chocolate covered nougat. The former was less like a friand and more like a cupcake filled with oozing, chocolate lava. Dense and rich, those who were previously ‘not having any dessert’ were soon pinching a taste. The nougat was brimming with pistachio nuts and cranberries, with a thin layer of dark chocolate coating the sides.

As an accompaniment to our treats we ordered some coffee. Our lattes and cappuccinos would give plenty of trendy Melbourne cafés a serious run for their money. Poured strong without a bitter aftertaste, my cappuccino was smooth and sweet. The hot chocolate, served on a floral china plate, didn’t look half bad either.

With a rustic feel, unfussy fare and flawless coffee, the Pigeon Hole Café is a must visit if you find yourself in the area. If I lived in Hobart, it would be my local. It’s as simple as that.

Pigeon Hole on Urbanspoon


  1. Oh that beetroot soup and those sweets look great. Am desperate to go to Hobart and check out Mona as well.

    1. MONA was incredible! I've been to modern art museums and galleries all over Europe, and MONA wins hands down. We spent five hours there, so worth spontaneously buying a cheap flight from Melbourne and going just for a weekend!

  2. I always get so excited seeing my own corner cafe popping up on blogs! I love Pigeon Hole and its people so very much! And yes, the chocolate friands are to DIE for. But next time try the olive oil and lemon cake!

    1. Hi Elizabeth! I'll be sure to try the olive oil and lemon cake next time I'm in Tassie, thanks for the tip! Those seeded bars and giant meringues might need to be taste tested as well... you know, for research purposes ; )

  3. You found what used to be my local. You go there enough and Emma and Jay don't even take your order, the food just appears.....I MISS Pigeon Hole. The only reason its not my local is I moved to Lithgow.....

    1. That's what real hospitality is all about. Nice to know the owners care so much. Definitely worth the journey from Lithgow (and Melbourne!) once in a while!