Not many of Hobart’s suburbs has as strong a community identity as South Hobart. It’s a tight knit enclave with a well organised progress association and some deeply rooted political affiliations. Beautifully renovated old houses with majestic views up to kunyani line leafy streets. It’s also home to a few iconic tourist sites – The Female Factory, Cascade Brewery, South Hobart Tip Shop. C’mon, more people visit that awesome tip shop than the other two sites combined!
It has a definite village centre with a slowly growing retail and food scene. La Provencal, further up Macquarie Street has been there for decades. Conversely, one of the newer businesses has only been there a few months, Bear with Me café.
Alicia Liu and Viv Xiao from Vilicia coffee shop on the corner of Murray and Collins Streets have teamed up with head chef, Lachlan Fletcher, and sous chef, Jed Brown, formerly of Melbourne’s Chin Chin, to deliver new generation eating in an established suburb.
Alicia and Viv have suggested the café’s name is self-effacing. As new-comers to SoHo, they’re asking locals and customers for patience as they settle in and iron out any creases. This Girl has visited a number of times in the last couple of months and the opposite looks true. They’ve hit the ground running.
They have turned an old bakery into a modern café which maintains a relaxed vibe even when it’s busy. Unlike their peers in NoHo or Salamanca, it’s less hustle and bustle, and more community.
There’s plenty of circulation space. A share table sits at the front of the café with some casual seating for those waiting on takeaways. Two rows of bar tables and stools line the space adjacent the kitchen and there’s a very comfy lounge space at the rear. It’s charcoal and white with polished cement floors and timber finishes.
The menu is a mix of new age, standards and fusion. There’s an acai bowl, regular eggs and sides and a V. interesting selection of options that draw predominantly on Asian flavours to offer unique and delicious plates. The coffee is top-notch and there’s baked goods courtesy of new and noteworthy, Imago bakery.
This Girl took Yoga Woman for a long overdue lunch catch up. Bear with Me was pumping. They don’t do reservations, so we took a seat and waited for our number to come up. After a terrific meal I vowed to come back with The Other Girl so The Two Girls hit SoHo for an early Saturday morning breakfast and got seated straight away. As they say, timing is everything.
Yoga Woman and I took the approach of brunch in courses. We shared:
- Peanut butter salt and pepper tofu gua bao, shaved cabbage and mustard cress, burnt chilli mayonnaise, roasted peanuts, sesame ssamjang dressing, pickled cucumber$19.
- French fries, dashi furikake seasoning, burnt chilli mayonnaise, $8.
- Blueberry hotcake with berries, lemon ricotta, pistachios and freeze-dried raspberries, $19.
Staff were very accommodating with our request to share the savoury plate and follow it up with our dessert, err I mean, other breakfast dish.
The Two Girls ate:
- Bendedict with master stock braised smoked ham hock, crispy bintje potatoes, thyme and parmesan, packed eggs, crisp apple, cider hollandaise, $19.
- Creamy folded eggs with wombok kimchi, sesame ssamjang, Asian slaw on white sourdough, $18.
- Imago caramel scroll which we shared, let’s say, as a palate cleanser 😊.
The diversity of the menu means there really is something for everyone. Fussy family member? No problems, there’s eggs on toast. Health fanatic? Go the granola. Master Chef wanna-be? Try the caramelised sticky pork and crisp green apple salad.
We enjoyed all the meals on both occasions. The fries were ridiculously good. The folded eggs had a terrific heat. Eggs benedict are rich at the best of times – they should be ordered anywhere, judiciously. This version was pretty special. The ham hock was a sophisticated offering with real depth of flavours and it sat on a potato galette.
The hotcake was cooked and served hot from their cast iron pan complete with a crisp edge – choose the ice cream or ask for more maple syrup because that cake is greedy for wetness. The bao buns were gorgeous, fun and easy to share. We chose the least decadent pastry but it had a lovely sticky sweetness that was a terrific treat.
Coffee is one of the best in the city sourced from ONA Coffee and founded by barista world champ, Sasa Sestic. They also sell the gluten free biscuits they have on offer at Vilicia – Butterbings. I snuck back on Saturday for a coffee and one of these chocolate biscuits. I chose the peanut butter buttercream filling but there are plenty of other flavours too. Hot dang!
Find Bear with Me at 399 Macquarie Street, South Hobart.
Call them on 6223 6665.
Check out their Facebook page @Bearwithmecoffeeandfood
Here’s another place we enjoyed Imago – The Glasshouse revisited.
We love La Provencal too.
Here’s our post on Vilicia.