Bending the rules and your expectations about brunch and daytime dining, Born in Brunswick looks set to be North Hobart's hottest new eatery.

Not too many Tasmanian cafes offer cheesecake or cured wallaby with garlic chive scramble and horseradish for brunch. But Born in Brunswick doesn’t stick to the rules, rather prefers to curiously bend them.

Trendy seems an understatement for this North Hobart eatery. You enter through the beak of an exotic bird then are absorbed in to a sharp interior that ticks all the right boxes: lashings of natural light, cushioned bench seats mixed with bar stools, soft timber, living greenery, muted colour, nonchalant staff.

Head Chef Josh Retzer Making Waves

Head Chef Josh Retzer Making Waves

Twenty-four is pretty young to be head chef at one of Hobart’s most popular restaurants. 

But then, Josh Retzer isn’t just any chef.  

The creative genius behind brunch restaurant Born In Brunswick’s menu, Retzer began working in kitchens at the age of 14.

Starting his apprenticeship at the now-defunct Theodoti Greek taverna in Launceston, he took up roles at the Riverside Hotel, The Metz and Hotel Grand Chancellor before winning the sous chef role at Stillwater.

The opening of Born In Brunswick in November last year marked Retzer’s first taste of head chef responsibilities, and he has since been named as one of nine finalists from across the globe in the 2017 Best Chef Rising Star award.

But he says the one-and-a-bit-year stint under Stillwater’s executive chef Craig Will was where his passion for cooking was born.



Born in Brunswick

Hobart may be one of our smallest major cities but it is fast becoming a hotbed of culinary talent. Born in Brunswick has joined the throng of new-wave restaurants eager to explore and champion Australia’s gorgeous native ingredients in a contemporary setting. Polished concrete walls and floors, blond woods and native plants provide a stylish platform for food that awakens the tastebuds. The twang and crunch of pickled fungus is mellowed by the toothsome, creaminess of cuttlefish before black garlic and poached stone fruits gift a sweet kiss to slender pieces of cured venison. Then a playful savoury-meets-sharp juniper and wattleseed cheesecake turns a classic on its head with wit and whimsy. Brilliant. 


Australian Good Food & Travel Guide: 7 Must Try Acai Bowls from around Australia

Australian Good Food & Travel Guide: 7 Must Try Acai Bowls from around Australia

RECIPE: Born In Brunswick | TAS

Perched along Elizabeth Street in the heart of Hobart is the trendy eatery bringing brunches back, Born In Brunswick. Co-Owners Con Vailas (of MasterChef fame) and Ben Korkmaz, alongside Head Chef, Josh Retzer have created a restaurant and menu designed to bring people together to enjoy long brunches and conversation in a cheerful environment. If a full bowl of frozen fruits is not your thing, but you're still wanting the added benefits of acai, opt for their almond and citrus chia. Packed with the goodness of almond milk mixed with acai powder, chia seeds, nuts, puffed amaranth, seeds, pomegranate and fresh berries, this kick starter is the perfect way to begin your weekend brunching with friends.

TasWeekend: Born in Brunswick a natural-born thriller

TasWeekend: Born in Brunswick a natural-born thriller

THE brainchild of former MasterChef contestant Con Vailas and his lifelong mate Ben Korkmaz, both from Hobart, Born in Brunswick was conceived in Melbourne and born in Hobart less than three weeks ago.

Like many other recently opened Hobart food establishments, it’s been an instant success, with the team cooking up a storm for more than 100 breakfast, brunch and lunch customers each day.

And it’s little wonder. With Vailas meeting, greeting and directing traffic, casual but flawless service and a kitchen under ex-Stillwater chef Joshua Retzer at a very busy midweek brunch, the place was running like clockwork.

Vailas gained his hospitality experience at Hobart’s Charcoal restaurant and bar and Wrest Point Casino before moving to Melbourne’s hip inner-city Brunswick East where, he says, he got inspiration from eating at a different cafe every day and from watching Heston Blumenthal on TV.

“Without living in Melbourne, this would never have happened,” he says.

And, with a large open kitchen and servery, a couple of communal tables plus window bench seating and scattered tables for two, an abundance of white marble, timber and plants, the whole flooded with natural light through the perspex ceiling, the interior is wonderfully light and bright with a real buzz of activity.


The interior of Born in Brunswick is bright and breezy, with a chicken burger on the menu in a nod to its previous use as a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet.

Vailas and Korkmaz have created a slice of Melbourne in Hobart while chef Retzer and his kitchen are adept at combining ingredients and a diversity of culinary influences from Korea, Japan, South-east Asia, Germany and elsewhere and in employing the latest sous vide, fermentation and pickling techniques to create up-to-the-minute dishes that, in their multicultural complexity, are full of surprises and exceed expectations at every turn.

Sous vide, half-cooked salmon mi cuit, for example, comes with garlic cream, seaweed crisps, pickled wakame, slow-cooked egg and sourdough. Cuttlefish is accompanied by daikon, pickled fungus, compressed apple, cucumber, laver (seaweed) and apple dashi while another dish partners heirloom tomato with compressed watermelon, olive streusel (crumble), pickled fennel, fermented tomato and Meredith feta. The beauty is, despite the complex array of ingredients and flavours, such dishes hang together well and work.

I tried a slab of slow-cooked pork that was still nicely moist and textured partnered with onion and maple jam, dabs of clear tomato gel, a clump of oyster mushrooms, slow egg and sourdough. A smoked and slow-cooked brisket had been shredded, filled with short macaroni and cornichons, reformed and crusted and served with mustard creme fraîche, house-made kimchi, puffed amaranth, bean sprouts and fried egg.

A crispy chicken burger — a nod, Vailas says, to KFC, which used to be on its site — came with pickled daikon, mayonnaise spiked with Korean chilli paste, coriander, mint and lime. It was fine, but not up to the standard of the other dishes and might better have been left to KFC. But the knockout dish of the day — both for me and the restaurateur at the next table — was the mango and lemongrass panna cotta with passionfruit gel, pineapple and chilli syrup and macadamia topped with snow-like flakes of condensed coconut cream.

The mango and lemongrass panna cotta with passionfruit gel, pineapple and chilli syrup was the stand-out dish for reviewer Graeme Phillips — and a restaurateur at the next table.

“Panna cottas are the hottest breakfast ticket in Melbourne,” Vailas says.

Maybe so, but I doubt any could better Retzer’s delicious creation.

There’s an attractive kids’ menu and, if you’re not in for the food, there’s a selection of smoothies, pressed juices, kombucha, coffees and teas as well as cocktails and a short list of wines, beers and ciders.

Sourdough with berries and elderflower jam or grapefruit and yuzu marmalade $8; eggs your way with peach, tomato and pepperberry relish $14; mains $19 to $25; desserts $16 to $22.

Born in Brunswick

410 Elizabeth St, North Hobart