It was incredibly hot without a lick of breeze when we pulled into Freycinet Marine Farm, hoping to eat shucked to order oysters that had been cultivated onsite. With my skin practically melting as I dodged mini-buses in the full car park, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was walking into a tourist trap.
As the thermometer nudged 38 degrees Celsius at five minutes before midday, I decided it was too hot to care. Walking under the large raw timber and dark blue, corrugated iron shed, we found it packed wall-to-wall with rows of light blue picnic tables. Off to one side there were some slightly more picturesque outdoor tables with protective white umbrellas, arranged between the trees on a bed of pulverised scallop shells.
Joining a long but fast-moving queue, we’re soon eyeballing the glass counter filled with pre-packaged seafood.
While Oysters ($22/dozen) aren’t shucked to order per say, behind the counter there's a veritable army of shuckers working full tilt to meet the heavy summertime demand. So it’s probably as close to shucked to order as most places get, and the oysters themselves are tight, briny and delightful with little more than three drops of fresh lemon juice.
For a real taste sensation, add a tray of Sea Urchin Roe ($15) into your lunch order. Harvested from right here in Coles Bay, these dark orange urchin ‘lobes’ eat beautifully when delicately laid across your oyster. The two contrasting briny flavours intertwine like dancers in a pas de deux. Trays of Australian Prawns ($16/8) are firm fleshed and tasty, dragged through Seafood Sauce ($2) or Wasabi Mayo. ($2).
Using a buzzer system, our last dish to arrive are the Grilled Tasmanian Garlic Scallops ($20). The small but super-tasty scallops are served roe-on, with an accompanying bread roll that’s perfect for mopping up the garlicky buttery juices. It’s the kind of dish that calls for a well-priced glass of wine, and the Milton Vineyard Gewürztraminer ($9/glass) fills the brief very well.
For a place that was so busy, it looked like a tourist trap, Freycinet Marine Farm, made me eat my words. There’s something about eating Tasmanian seafood so close to the places it was recently living, that cuts right through the lowbrow dining experience, which sees you binning your own remains and washing your prawn-peelin' fingers in a kitsch shell-covered outdoor sink.
Freycinet Marine Farm
1784 Coles Bay Road, Coles Bay
Ph: (03) 6257 0140
Heading to Tasmania? Does My Bomb Look Big In This? has you covered...
The Taste of Tasmania: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4.
Breakfast (Hobart): Born in Brunswick, Dandy Lane, Room for a Pony & Macquarie St. Food Store.
Lunch (near Hobart): Willie Smith's Apple Shed & The Dunalley Store.
Dinner (Hobart): The Source, Franklin, Frank & Templo.
Beyond Hobart: Freycinet Marine Farm, Harvest Launceston & Mudbar Restaurant.