What: Found in the forests and fields across Tasmania, wallabies look very similar to the kangaroos for which Australia is famous, only much smaller and with a thicker fur to handle those cold Tasmanian winters. A source of sustenance for aboriginal Tasmanians for thousands of years, wallaby has, like other native Australian ingredients, been regaining popularity among diners in recent decades. Yes, they’re cute, but they’re also a far more environmentally friendly source of meat compared to beef and lamb. Discerning carnivorous consumers have learned that wallaby is not only lean and delicious, but also an ethically responsible choice.
Tasmania is the only state of Australia in which it is legal to harvest wallaby, and its high-quality meat is exported to restaurants across the country and the world. But if you want the freshest wallaby in the land, Hobart is where it’s at.
Where: We’ve long been a fan of the wallaby from The Glass House (Brooke Street Pier, map). Located on the floating Brooke Street Pier in the popular Salamanca district, the restaurant boasts one of the best views of Hobart’s spectacular waterfront (sunset is a fabulous time to go). Innovative small plates is its specialty, combining quality Tasmanian ingredients with Japanese inspiration.
When: Daily, noon till late (last dinner seating is at 8:30pm). Online bookings are encouraged for groups smaller than 8.
Order: Here, wallaby is offered in its purest form: as tartare (AU$25). Raw wallaby meat is salt-cured and lightly smoked, then served with a slow-cooked egg yolk, rice cracker, and a Tasmanian kunzea emulsion (made from a native plant with prominent thyme and citrus flavors). The dish beautifully highlights the unique, mildly gamy flavor and tender texture of this fine-grained Tasmanian protein, and demonstrates with simplicity and technique why wallaby is considered by many to be the “pinot of red meats.”
In fact, you should pair this with a Tasmanian pinot noir off the wine list. And don’t miss an order of crisp Tasmanian pink-eye potatoes ($14), another regional specialty.
Alternatively: If tartare isn’t your thing, fear not! Grilled wallaby is very popular in Hobart, with the ensuing caramelization bringing an entirely new flavor profile into play. The best version of this style of wallaby can be found at Frogmore Creek (20 Denholms Rd., map), just a 20-minute drive outside Hobart among the vineyards of the beautiful Coal River Valley. (Keep in mind that Frogmore Creek’s kitchen opens only for lunch.)
Additionally, for the ultimate in Aussie pub cuisine with a difference, drop by the Brunswick Hotel (67 Liverpool St., map)—the second-oldest pub in Australia—in central Hobart for a wallaby “parmi.” Breaded, fried, and topped with your choice of sauce or garnish, it’s a distinctly Tassie twist on a pub classic.