The restaurant’s name is one of the things that is often talked about. Inspired by the Led Zeppelin song D’yer Mak’er? It’s a double double play on words. The original sounds like Jamaica with an English accent. To pronounce this restaurant’s name is die-er make-er, and just to mix it up a bit more, they messed with the spelling too. Ask bartender Jakob Etzold and he’ll invite you to have your own fun with the name and call it what you want.
Entering the restaurant is a sombre experience. It’s black and very grown up. Owner and front of house manager, Sarah Fitzsimmons seats us at the kitchen and we have the pleasure and privilege of watching chefs, Kobi Ruzicka and Alisha Tams, execute each course of the seven plate menu with precision. Adjacent Etzold takes his role constructing cocktails just as mindfully. It’s a delectable irony that these collaborators have infused their sense of humour with their serious mission.
The other thing that’s talked a lot about is the wine list. Their cellar is low-to-no preservatives and other additives that are common place in contemporary wine production. It’s not necessarily organic or biodynamic, but it might also be. It’s worth being aware of this point of difference. The omission of the additives means that natural wine tastes different. Am I stating the obvious? Yes and no. It’s about adapting expectations because it’s not just an extra line in the tasting notes.
We enjoyed a new world chardonnay, one that had neither the big buttery flavours of our favourites nor the nasty acid of the ones we avoid. I don’t know art but I know what I like right? In the same vein, I’m no wine connoisseur with the accompanying vocabulary so the best I can say is that we found our choice gentle to the palette and perfectly acceptable. As the Lovely Deputy was the designated driver, I kicked myself we didn’t get the bottle. Prices edge toward the higher side per glass so it may be worth your while pursuing the cellar.
I also enjoyed one of their signature cocktails – Pretty Flower. The attraction was the addition of violet and a strong memory of the fragrance of the cool, dark, violet grove at my grandparents’ home. Whimsical sigh. Oh and the cocktail was delicious.
The menu is a set seven course, $65 per person, where each person enjoys their own plate. I say this because in some establishments the plate is shared. Ostensibly, the menu consists of two snacks and five meals. I run a little hot in these situations. No, I don’t have any food allergies but for a self-professed foodie, there’s a number of gourmet foods I just don’t like.
The chalkboard on the wall describes the menu in themes:
Beetroot. This plate was a tuile filled with a beetroot labne and topped with a shard of pickled beetroot. It’s with the appetiser that we are introduced to the restaurant’s seasonal produce bent. Enjoy the earthy quality of the beet juxtaposed with the crisp and creamy textural complements.
Kingfish, miso, bottargo. My favourite fish, firm, sweet and rich, prepared in the tataki style, resting on a splay of cured fish roe (the bottargo) and topped with miso cream, purple carrot cuttings and tapioca and squid ink crackling. Stunning and probably my favourite dish. A balanced and creative plate.
We immediately realised we were off and racing. Dier Makr is no amateur hour. Kobi and Alisha are teamwork incarnate. They don’t appear too fazed by my 20 questions, with each new course. Although it’s not long before we’re joking about not jumping ahead.
A great deal of work goes into early preparation with minimal application of heat while you wait. “When did you cook that fish?” I demanded of Kobi with its sudden, magical appearance. “It was cooking when you arrived and it’s been resting since then.” Okay. Clever. And so are the series of containers and plastic piping bags prêt à partir. This is essential in the workings of their miniscule kitchen consisting of two small benches which are shared with the oven and a single cooktop hob. It makes for a steady stream of plating up: a handful of dishes are grabbed from the scullery, one begins and the other falls in behind to finish. Dishes are served at room temperature, not something I would have necessarily noticed unless he told me.
Cauliflower, hazelnut, raclette. This was cauliflower done three ways – a puree bed, shavings, and perfectly steamed florets. Kobi referred to it, “Our mac ‘n cheese”. It is accompanied by the Swiss fondue-style raclette and shavings of roasted hazelnut (mind the fingers).
Apple. Next came a palate cleanser: a rose of dehydrated and fresh apple.
Nettle, egg, lemon. A porridge of a main course, this had the least variation in textures of all the courses and was the dish we were a little challenged with. Nettle has a unique, delicious flavour that is not found in other greens. Coddled and slow cooked eggs are not my thing though. Bless the dear, late Chris Jackman, but his asparagus with coddled egg and truffle shavings was an overreach for my emerging palate at his emerging ‘Choux Shop’ which briefly opened as a restaurant in the current Jackman and McRoss, Victoria Street location. It scarred me for life. As a result, I don’t have a big fondness for truffles either. To my personal taste (and The Lovely Deputy concurred), this dish felt a little more brunch than crunch.
On the upside, the presence of nettle led us on a course of discovery to our own source, in our currently unoccupied pigsty. The nettle although baring the brunt of an overzealous whipper snipper, did provide enough sustenance for a nettle risotto during the week. Great stuff! Thanks to Alisha for her advice – double glove. It’s first name is stinging. That’s Stinging Nettle. I’ve since found it in the veggie patch. Ouch!
Beef rib, oyster, caper. The beef had been perfectly slow cooked to evenly melt the marbling of fat and a little caramelisation in places for even more flavour. It was accompanied by broccoli leaves and an oyster sauce with caper powder. It’s at this point in our adventure that I’m reminded not to be so afraid of words like ‘oyster’ and ‘caper’. They are present in this dish for accentuation and don’t overpower.
D-SERT! Pumpkin, mandarin, pepperberry. This was the point where we arrived at the restaurant, with Kobi plating up the dessert course for the earlier sitting. What a lovely way then to leave Dier Makr having come full circle with their production line.
In the belly of this plate lay a wad of pepperberry cream extensively reduced to a lightly chewy caramel. The reduction was consumed by a pumpkin cream, drizzled with mandarin sauce, studded with candied pepitas and candied pumpkin cubes and then embellished with pepperberry meringue. Simple and complex and absolutely wonderful because it was both decadently sweet and light at the same time.
Having finally made it there (where have I been since they opened last December?), I’m wondering why there is not more talk of the food?!?! I was propelled to book after a very recent rave review by a work colleague. Perhaps it’s the circles I mix in these days, more goats and cows than executive types and hipsters.
It was good. Very good. Dier Makr’s rightful place in Hobart’s culinary prestige is amongst our best, contemporary establishments. Go! What are you waiting for!
Find them on Facebook – Dier Makr
Book on line on their webpage – Dier Makr
They’re located at 123 Collins Street, Hobart. It’s off the street so go along the hallway to find the restaurant.
Call them on 03 6288 8910.
They are open Wednesday-Sunday but check their online presence for details and changes.
Photos of the building have been taken from the Dier Makr Facebook page. Food photos are by Living Loving Hobart.
Not a Led Zeppelin fan or don’t get the joke? – go to Wikipedia for an explanation – D’yer Mak’er