Fico Review: One Of Australia’s Finest Still Shines In The City Of Hobart
(Photo by Oskar Rossi, Fico)
— Updated on 13 July 2023

Fico Review: One Of Australia’s Finest Still Shines In The City Of Hobart

— Updated on 13 July 2023
Chris Singh
Chris Singh

Despite Hobart’s ironclad grip on Australia’s best produce, if we’re talking about the city’s signature restaurants then we usually only have two or three names in the hat. Of course, there’s Templo; and sometimes Landscape or Aloft are thrown into the discussion for good measure. Yet now that the beloved Franklin has vanished, the other constant is Fico Bistro & Vino.

Federica Andrisani and Oskar Rossi’s borderless restaurant has been covered in acclaim ever since opening on Macquarie Street in 2016 and — spoiler alert — it’s still a stunner.

After a recent meal there, my second in about six years, I’m sold. ‘Lawless European’ is the pitch but it’s tough to discern any single influence. There’s a lot of Italian in there; sometimes Japanese flavours linger on the transitory set menu; and on any given day you might find a few references to other cuisines along the Mediterranean.

That said, the anchor is Tasmanian ingredients with a hyperlocal focus, tethered by the various chef-producer relationships Andrisani and Rossi have established in the community.

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(Image Credit: Oskar Rossi; Fico)

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The best produce of the day dictates what’s on offer; and given that it’s winter, my timing couldn’t be better. Amid Dark Mofo season, I’m down for my annual pilgrimage to the endlessly entertaining art festival and a mate and I have just rocked up after a few bottles at nearby Lucinda Wine Room.

Wine is a recurring theme of the night so we just nod enthusiastically whenever the staff try to upsell us on the pricier drops. The playful persuasion is welcome. Each and every bottle we try that night hits the spot perfectly, from a juicy Monsanto Chianti to a lovely Etna Bianco from Giovanni Rosso.

The food, however, sits on another level. The kitchen’s complete adherence to utilising local produce shines in those incredibly rich flavours: elevating dishes like Muscovy duck tortellini; a memorable saffron pappardelle paired with Tasmanian sea urchin and fennel; and a soft venison en croute.

(Image Credit: Oskar Rossi; Fico)

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A parcel of tender mutton bird sits encased within a crispy calzone for one of the set’s first highlights, served at the same time as a one-bite cube of fresh kingfish with soy and wasabi, and an interesting corn tart.

Still, my interest doesn’t really spike until a big piece of sourdough is placed on the table, served alongside a thick dipping sauce of anchovy and hazelnut. The full-flavoured salty, sweet and nutty scarpetta (from the Italian ‘fare la scarpetta‘, describing the act of mopping up residual sauce with bread) really sinks its hooks into me. I’m addicted.

Some sort of cheesy panna cotta — championing local producers Tongola Cheese — always seems to be on the menu (according to the FICO regulars I speak to at the table next to me). Tonight it’s served with an earthy onion jus that’s so tasty and indulgent I start letting loose with the expletives. It’s fu*cking good.

Pictured: Sea Urchin & Saffron Pappardelle. Not officially part of the evening’s menu, this course gives you a good idea of what’s usually on rotation (Image Credit: Oskar Rossi; Fico)

Creamy caramelised white chocolate infused with grappa sits under a crispy Florentine biscuit to put a cap on the night. It’s delicious and appropriately light. Yet by that point, I already feel like the $170 ‘Let Us Cook For You’ menu has already proven its worth.

As with all fine dining set menus, portion sizes may end up being a contentious issue for some. But this isn’t tweezer food. Servings are reasonable and I’m greatly satisfied by the end of it all.

Fico is an expensive night out. Compare that with a meal at Templo — where six courses will set you back $95. I’d say the experience is worth the price. A relaxed, eclectic dining room with very little lighting apart from flickering candles; framing sharp-witted, punctilious service and exceptional food & wine.

Sounds like a damn good time to me. It was. It is. And I am very much looking forward to my next visit.

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Chris Singh
Chris is a freelance Travel, Food, and Technology writer. He has had work published by The AU Review, Junkee Media and Australian Traveller Media and holds tertiary qualifications in Psychology and Sociology.


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