‘[B]arely controlled chaos’* might be hyperbole but it’s no overstatement that Mona’s new exhibition space and museum restaurant are remarkable.

Pharos is the museum’s new wing which houses Faro, the tapas bar and four major works. This includes another fantastic light installation, Beside Myself, by James Turrell, creator of the Amarna, the sunset and sunrise viewing platform on Mona’s rooftop, and the sump oil illusion of Richard Wilson’s 20:50. Stunning. And that’s just for starters. There are other novelties that are best found on your own voyage of self-discovery.

Hint: follow others.

Tip: it’s also important to listen to the museum attendants when they tell you not to touch, or to watch where you walk to avoid damaging your clothing or giving yourself a head injury. I’m serious. And so are they.

In the spirit of good museums around the globe, now there’s a restaurant in situ.  For dinner reservations, there’s an external entrance. During the museum’s opening hours, the restaurant is accessed from within the museum – through an unmarked door in one of the exhibition spaces. V. Mona.

The adage ‘ask and you will receive’ has never been more relevant than when you’re suffering museum-related, concrete feet and need sustenance or just a big fat drink. And this one is glorious, holding its own alongside big name-Australian and international institutions.

You emerge from the museum into a giant triangle with stunning views over the River Derwent and the Wellington Ranges. For This Girl’s birthday lunch we stayed away from convention and sat at the bar. We like to eat, watch the inner workings and have occasional conversation with strangers. Me: ‘Are you from Manchester?’ Response, ‘No, Wales.’ Ooops.

The bar has all the action and great views but if it’s not for you, choose the just-as-salubrious restaurant seating.

Hobart looks good in autumn. Really good. Faro was the perfect place to end up after a ferry ride out to Mona on a stunning autumn afternoon.

Bonus, the food is really enjoyable. I completely understand Faro as a dinner choice, but This Girl’s recommendation is to enjoy this space in the light.

The menu is designed to share so take a friend. On our visit it included tasters like confit abalone, raw scallop, miso, seaweed, linseed cracker, $9.50 and large plates like chargrilled vegetables, tomatillo and pepita mole, wattleseed crunch, $28.

What we ate:

  • Manchego and leek croquette, romesco, pickled chilli, $5.50
  • Grilled sardines, tomato, red wine vinegar, olive oil, pine nuts, $24
  • Pan seared koji wallaby, pickled walnuts, blackberry, Pedro Ximenez, $26
  • Char-grilled spatchcock, sweet corn polenta, burn lime and coriander,$34
  • Pharos Pearl (chocolate, honey), roast plums, blackberries, $16
  • Caramel ginger parfait, figs, pine nut brittle, almond, chocolate, $16

I’m told you’re not meant to play favourites. For a Priscilla Queen of Desserts, I found the savoury plates held their own, whereas the desserts didn’t share the same coherency. The combinations of flavours and textures in the wallaby and spatchcock were the high points of the experience and both meats were cooked perfectly. I’ve never enjoyed the pickled walnuts I’ve tried my hand at over the years but I’ve always loved them made by someone else. They were a great complement to the wallaby and fruit. The croquettes and sardines were delightful as well. The ‘simpler’ sweets in the Mona bar have credential. Consider a change of scenery for dessert if you’re fussy about where you invest your calories.

We chose a range of wines by the glass for flexibility and because there wasn’t much wasted value in turning down the bottle.

Overall, a terrific experience. Great venue, awesome location, wonderful food, terrific service. Our bartender was engaging and informative and we were glad to have him along for the ride.

Mona’s done it again. You can quote me if you like.

For bookings and a look at a sample menu – Faro.

Here’s our trip out in the Posh Pit.

*Mona webpage.

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