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.