A Tiny Place reminds me of a Lilliputian version of Stephanie’s, the eponymous Melbourne restaurant of Stephanie Alexander who championed local seasonal produce and French technique. A Tiny Place is likewise set in a historic building, features antique furniture and serves classic French cooking with a modern Australian flair. The location is the gloriously charming Battery Point under the shadow of the neoclassical spire of St George’s Church. Chef Philippe Leban cooked French fine dining in Shanghai before taking on the role of executive chef at MONA. Mismatched Victorian oak furniture somehow sits comfortably alongside flourishes of art deco and an early colonial period refectory table. Philippe’s creative wife Trinh Pham has worked two feature walls with a botanical and avian motif in chalk.
Philippe’s food is remarkably pure and simple. A duck liver parfait is beautifully pink and covered in a delicate layer of orange and muscat jelly. The jambon et persil, a classic French charcuterie dish, is presented in a clear dome of aspic, the parsley concentrated in a green cloud floating above a pink earth of ham pieces. The terrine is expertly made with loins of hare resting among pork peppered with pieces of cubed fat.
The quail comes in a bowl of clear stock accompanied by exquisitely and simply prepared vegetables. The flesh is dense, sweet, flavoursome and enlivened by Asian spices. While the space is small – A Tiny Place seats just 30 diners in two rooms – it is not cramped. Instead, it feels like dining in a salon or, come to think of it, a culinary artist’s atelier.
A TINY PLACE
20 Francis Street, Battery Point, Hobart, Tasmania
Tel 03 6225 6771