The Foodie’s Guide to Launceston
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Tasmania’s second city is a major draw for epicurean tourism, luring thousands to the long running food and wine Festivale held annually in February. But if you can’t wait that long, there’s plenty to keep you busy in the meantime.
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Caffe Mondello has the upper hand on Charles Street since the recent departure of Fresh on Charles. Breakfast is served all day and wisely so. Eggs come pretty much any way you want them but there are other more intriguing choices such as the Pollastrini sardines served with toast and Gentleman’s Relish and the French toast with lemon curd, berries and cream. Bread, cakes, even the baked beans are all made on the premises.
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Above the acclaimed Stillwater restaurant, exists The Mill Providore, Gifts & Gallery. It’s upper level is a spacious, light-filled art gallery; the lower floor a deli and cornucopia of gourmet Tasmanian fare, including local breads, meats, cheeses, salmon, organic wines and the Tamar Valley’s famous black truffles (when in season). Hampers are big business here, starring the likes of beetroot marmalade, pear chutney, honey, tea, olive oil, rubs and biscuits. You can buy off the shelf or modify to suit your purpose. Image: facebook.com/Stillwater.Providore
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Watch the rowers heaving past while perusing the menu at the upmarket Mud Bar & Restaurant in Seaport. The food is Asian-inspired: the corn-fed duck breast is served with black rice, sticky rhubarb and bok choy; the crispy chicken with soab noodles, soy, lemon and chilli salt. But there’s also a charcoal grilled steak menu for the purists. Check the tides – the view’s at its prettiest when it’s high. Image: facebook.com/Mudbar-Restaurant-130212010360789
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Just 20 kilometres from the city centre, Leaning Church Vineyard occupies the gentle slopes in the foothills of Mount Arthur. Pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and “the Dolly Parton of chardonnays” top the bill at this winery where visitors are encouraged to admire the views, taste the wares and air honest opinions. The cellar door menu goes way beyond the humble cheese plate with the likes of Cape Grim Beef short ribs and Bass Strait scallops. Image: facebook.com/LeaningChurchVineyard
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Sweetbrew, a tiny George Street hole-in-the-wall style café has atmosphere in spades and pairs its locally renowned coffee with a small but perfectly formed selection of pastries, cakes and tarts. Take a pew out the front and watch the world go by. And keep an eye out if you’re around town; the award-winning That Sweet Little Caravan takes its great coffee to the masses at local festivals, markets and events.
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Now in its 20th year, Hallam’s Waterfront is where the seafood aficionados gather in Launceston. A catch-your-breath view of the Tamar River serves as an appropriate backdrop for the recently revived menu that includes local catches from Clarence Point to Stanley. International cooking styles include influences from Japan, India and Italy but whichever you choose, the fish, as they say, is good.
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Ritchie’s Mill, an 1830s former flour mill, commands one of the best views in Launceston across the Tamar River. Inside, the Stillwater restaurant offers a menu of contemporary Tasmanian cuisine which focuses on whatever’s in season at the time. Put your trust in the hand that feeds with the chef’s five-course tasting plate or try a dish made for two: the Mount Gnomon rolled pork belly with sherry braised carrot and potato mousse; or a slow-cooked Cape Grim chateaubriand with roasted mushrooms and broccolini gratin. On a lighter note, the wine bar has its own menu from St Helens oysters to local beef tartare.