Author(s): Jim Marwood
Tasmania's first full liquor licence for a restaurant went to John Licandro's Martini in Burnie. That was in 1968, but there had been wine on the menu at The Bistro (a basement restaurant under the Ship Hotel in Hobart) since 1961. Was it legal? Well, probably. There was nowhere like the cellar-restaurant in Collins Street, and nobody like its charismatic maitre d', 'Pat' Collins, by turns charming, annoying and shocking to his drinkers and diners. Pat had achieved a great deal since his inauspicious arrival as a post-war migrant in Melbourne. Today The Bistro, once an important social centre for young professionals, is remembered only by rumour of scandal and transgression, and the part played by Pat Collins in Tasmania's 'coming of age' is forgotten. The ripples that he helped stir after 1961 grew into our present tourist hospitality, the legal acceptance of 'gay' relationships, and even the green political movement that spread worldwide after the destruction of Lake Pedder. The excitements and achievements of those years need to be gathered up and remembered before everyone who was around at the time falls victim to memory lapse - or worse.
Sweetbreads out of season begins that process. "Fasten your seatbelts and prepare for a wonderful rollicking Rabelaisian chronicle of the life and times of...Pat Collins." Tim Bowden, Author, TV presenter and recorder of Tasmanian oral history.