We loved Launceston, it has the most beautiful setting on the Tamar River, and is central for a number of day trips. There are also some very nice cafes and restaurants, so in our three nights there we tried out three restaurants for dinner and one for breakfast, all had been recommended to us and we thoroughly enjoyed them all. Our first meal was at the motel where we were staying, the Quality Colonial Hotel Launceston. We arrived late afternoon after a long day and needed to organise some laundry, so didn’t reserve a table. Although it was Valentine’s Day and they were very busy, they made a table available. However, due to the crowd we waited just over an hour for our meal (which was delicious) – so by the time it arrived we were so hungry I forgot to take a photo….sorry!
I will also include the meals and other “tastes” on our day trips during our stay in Launceston so you can get an idea of what is on offer.
On the first day we set off early to drive north on the western side of the Tamar, cross the Bradman Bridge then drive further north on the eastern side to Low Head and George Town. We were curious to see Grindelwald, the Swiss style resort not far from Launceston and we had a late breakfast there. The Chocolate Café owner was not advised that a tourist bus was due early – so again a bit of a wait while he single-handedly (and very calmly) organised breakfasts for everyone. We kept it simple by ordering raisin toast and coffee, and it was very pleasant to sit in the quaint village to eat.
By later that day we had reached Low Head, a unique and historical precinct situated at the entry of the Tamar River in Northern Tasmania just 40 minutes drive from Launceston. Dating back to 1805, the Low Head Conservation Area is the oldest Pilot and Signal Station in Australia and has run continuously since 1833. Offering a diverse range of 19th century buildings overlooking Bass Strait, this charming precinct is a haven of tranquillity and serenity surrounded by pristine beaches and magnificent views. The café was originally the Coxswain’s Cottage and Chart Room, and the view is superb (below).
We had made sure we booked for dinner that night at Pierre’s in the main CBD. First impression on walking into the restaurant is that it is fairly small, however we were ushered through to a larger room at the rear which was adjacent to an outdoor eating area (not used that evening). The staff were very efficient, explained the menu and the specials, and were very attentive. The meal was delicious. I can’t get enough of the wonderful Tasmanian seafood and chose Fish Pot Pie (selection of fresh local seafood, béchamel sauce, lemon, dill, potato puree) while Pete opted for Char Grilled 250g Eye Fillet and Potato Gratin (red wine jus, peppercorn sauce, café de paris butter). Then dessert – Trio of Gelato and Sorbet (with almond biscotti) for Pete, and for me – Eton Mess (smashed meringue, fresh strawberries, berry coulis, cream, toasted coconut) – totally decadent!
The following day we were up again reasonably early for our day trip south of Launceston, travelling first through the quaint town of Evandale (where they are famous for the Penny Farthing Bicycle Race that is held each February, and for their wonderful heritage buildings. Next was Campbell Town where we stopped at Zep’s for breakfast, before moving on to the much photographed town of Ross with its famous Ross Bridge and the Ross Female Factory. We spent some time in the Factory, before driving on to Longford where we decided to stop for a late lunch (right) at JJ’s Bakery. This business is housed in the Old Mill originally “The Emerald Mill” (C1850’s) a historic flour mill that takes full advantage of the sophisticated and well conditioned timberwork and the six-brick thick walls. The tables are made from the original floor boards from the second floor – sturdy, rugged planks prepared by convicts in a sawing pit reminding diners of an era long past! Convict marks are still visible on the reconstituted beams above the serving counter as are convict arrows and the thumb prints on a number of the exposed bricks!
After such a busy day we were ready for dinner, and having learned our lesson we reserved a table at the Black Cow, located in the Art Deco Luck’s Butchery Shop in the CBD. The Black Cow logo was inspired by the amazing ancient artworks in the Lascaux Caves in France which carbon dating indicates are more than 17,000 years old. Again the staff here were super efficient and the meal was delicious. My choice was the Panko and sesame crusted white fish, steamed Asian greens,coriander velouté and crispy shallots while Pete stayed faithful to the beef theme of the restaurant and chose Eye Fillet Longford (North Tas). Could not go past the Coconut sugar pannacotta, honey comb and coconut crumb, mango sorbet. Wonderful dinner, good thing we can walk off some calories on our up hill return to the hotel!
Our last meal in Launceston was to be breakfast at the very popular Stillwater Restaurant. We were up bright and early and among the first customers, as we were setting off on our trip to the Eastern Coast and St Helens. Situated in the historic Ritchie’s Mill at the mouth of the Cataract Gorge on the banks of the Tamar River in Launceston, Tasmania, the restaurant glows with the authentic warmth only an 1830s timber building can offer. We would loved to have dinner here but during our short stay we could only manage breakfast – of course I chose the Bircher Muesli and Pete chose Waffles with banana – a great start to the day!
Read more on my Tastes page