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From Paddock to Plate

A Tasmanian cafe creating delicious dishes with seasonal, fresh and sustainable produce.

I am so excited to introduce another guest writer to my site this week, my beautiful Aunty Dorothy Illing. A food lover and stunning home cook, Aunty Dorothy spends time growing delicious herbs in her lovely Melbourne garden, sourcing recipes online (BBC Good Food is her favourite) and also finding new and great places to dine.

It was a rainy autumn day when I arrived in Hobart. All shiny, wet bitumen and canopies of umbrellas. A perfect time to seek out somewhere warm and cosy with good comfort food and a glass of red.

My hosts had listed a nearby cafe, Pigeon Hole, in a folder of tips for visitors.

Only a short walk down the hill from my cottage it seemed like a good spot. I peeped in through the front window and saw some people sitting at a high front table hugging coffee mugs and leafing through newspapers - a fast-disappearing pastime - which immediately made me feel comfortable.

Navigating my way inside, past the counter and towards the back of the narrow cafe I settled into a cosy corner against floor-to-ceiling bookshelves lined with beautiful colour-coded bottles of preserves and recipe books. I was already at home.

I settled on the pork and fennel sausages, braised padrons and onions on a bed of soft polenta made from coloured corn, hence a slight pink border around the dish. With a glass of Beautiful Isle pinot noir I was set. It was a hefty meal, but after a red-eye flight from Melbourne I was ready for a hearty early lunch.

Pigeon Hole is a shining example of Tasmania’s paddock-to-plate movement.

Proprietors Richard and Belinda Weston try to use the fresh produce from their farm wherever possible. According to their website they use “organic principles and biodynamic practices to ensure high quality sustainable farming”. Somehow when you read that it all seems more wholesome and delicious! The flavour is certainly there. And the produce crunchy fresh.

Day Two I decided to bypass the other listed nearby eateries and head back to Pigeon Hole knowing that I might be risking a lesser experience but having enjoyed my first meal there so much I thought it was worth a try. And it was. This time it was the gnocchi. I’m not a big gnocchi eater - had a few stodgy ones - but this looked and smelled delicious and the waiter’s eyes lit up when I asked about it (always a good sign). To be honest I can’t even remember what was so special about it but it was the best I’ve ever eaten.

I must confess that as mainlanders (Melbourne) we often hear about the fresh food and great eateries in Tasmania but sometimes wonder how much is hyperbole. If Pigeon Hole Cafe is anything to go by, there’s more truth than hype.

Postscript: As COVID-19 batters the restaurants and cafes across the country, Pigeon Hole has switched to a takeaway menu. #savehospo

If you would like to share a dining experience to support your local restaurant of cafe in these troubling times, including all of the wonderful takeaway options now available, please email:

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