Fico is a restaurant with a love story. The word is Italian for fig but it has a double meaning. It’s also something beautiful. You see a good looking person, they’re fico. Collaborators in business and love, Oskar Rossi and Federica (Freddie) Andrisani, first cooked together with figs.
The couple debuted here in 2015 with a series of pop-up appearances, initially at Criterion Street café: Italian meals served after the café’s closing time.
Hobart foodies had somewhere new and it felt a little underground. ‘Pop up’ suggested a fleeting experience not to be missed.
This Girl visited the dynamic duo when they moved on to Room with a Pony. Then they left for Europe and Freddie’s parents on Italy’s East Coast, starting pop up dinners there.
Late December, a new restaurant opened where the Macquarie Street newsagent used to be. Fico. They were back, and putting down roots.
This Girl sat down with Freddie to find out more about Fico.
Freddie says of the menu that it is the food the couple want to eat themselves; cooked with fresh produce they can find and preferably see first. Freddie’s vision is to shop at a market each day and choose the freshest produce with which to construct each evening’s menu; see the produce, understand it, and decide whether it is right for the night’s table. They design Sunday’s long lunch menu based on what is seasonal and available at Hobart’s Farm Gate Markets.
Their cooking is a synthesis of basic Italian cooking from Freddie’s childhood, the techniques of their training, and the influences they have gathered as they’ve travelled Europe and Australia.
The Two Girls went for the first long lunch last Sunday.
We settled in and surveyed the newcomer.
Black booths, tables of fig-leaf green, mooted lighting, gossamer curtains. You don’t share State secrets in any Hobart restaurant but there is space enough to breathe here. The restaurant was designed by the couple and like Fico’s menu, brings together their individual styles. It’s comfortable, understated, and created in the fashion of a French or Italian bistro. The works of artist Tom Samek, Oskar’s father, line the restaurant’s walls.
The Sunday long lunch is served in either three ($50pp) or seven courses ($75pp) and its instructed by what you don’t like to eat. It is not a mash up of the a la carte menu, many of the plates are designed specifically for the experience.
I blinked at the table attendant and remembered to tell her that I don’t eat blue cheese and olives. I know I know, and I call myself a foodie.
One by one, seven courses appeared at a our table, starting small until the sixth and largest course which was followed by dessert.
What we ate:
First – Panisse, sourdough, tomato-infused water with olive oil and grissini
Our lovely table attendant enthusiastically told us that the recipes were from the eighties and were older than she was. But not older than we are. Sad face.
The panisse is made from a chickpea batter and then lightly fried. The Two Girls think it’s a chic alternative to hot chips at Friday after work drinks, which is fortunate, because it’s now a menu regular and they’re open from midday for drinks and a snack.
Second – Tempura oyster and wasabi mayonnaise
An oyster each appeared and I remembered I had neglected to mention they’re far from the top of the list of my favourite things.
The Other Girl threw caution to the wind and observed that the tempura was light and crispy, the Bruny Island oysters had only a hint of brine and the wasabi provided a lovely bite. She was right. Maybe they’re not so bad after all.
Third – Zucchini flower, ricotta, basil and tomato
A dish in technicolour and life-full; yellow, red, green, white. Fresh, simple, delicate and perfect.
Fourth – Seared calf tongue, beetroot and onion
A rich, densely fibrous morsel seated in a jus. The perfect balance of complex meat and simple vegetable accompaniments.
Fifth – Flour pasta with turnip tops
The absence of egg gives the pasta a little more bite, and the dish was a vibrant green with the heat of garlic and chilli. Freddie told me that when she first came to Tasmania she couldn’t believe no one ate turnip tops – that they were cut and discarded – so she started asking for the vegetable intact from growers. She describes this dish as super-classic in her birthplace of Naples.
Sixth – Grilled Morwong with chives, butter lettuce leaves dressed in wakame and crispy potatoes
Morwong is a southern waters fish with thick, sweet, white flesh. It’s served as is and if you’re used to boned fish, take care.
Seventh – Orange, peach, lemon and crème anglaise mousse
Peaches poached in lemon and orange rest over a biscuit crumb contained within a tuile cylinder and topped with crème anglaise. It is a light, refreshing way to end a long meal but sweet enough that you feel like you’ve had a real dessert.
Even the coffee is excellent thanks to Straight Up cafe and coffee roasters.
There are plans for the installation of small kidney-shaped bar for another space to enjoy a pre- or even post-dinner drink too.
Fico is a very exciting addition to Hobart’s culinary landscape. The Two Girls loved it. Go for dinner, go for lunch, and if you do, make it the long lunch.
Find Fico at 15 Macquarie Street, Hobart. They’re open for dinner Tuesdays-Saturdays and lunch Wednesdays-Saturdays. The long lunch is a Sunday special.
Call them on 6245 3391 and email them on email@example.com
Find them on the inter-webs – Fico
Find them on Facebook – Fico Hobart
For more on Farm Gate Market
When we visited Straight Up