Saturday, 12 January 2019

Launceston city guide

Even though it's been over two years since I've lived in Launceston, I still get nostalgic feelings any time I think of the incredible food scene there, not to mention the beautiful natural surrounds. I often get asked by friends visiting Tasmania about my Launceston recommendations, so thought it was time to put together a city guide for the north of Tassie.

 

Where to stay

 

Auldington Hotel

When we first visited Launceston at the end of 2015, we stayed a night at the Auldington Hotel, which is a gorgeous little hotel with fabulous views across the city. If you're looking for somewhere quiet to stay that is only 10 minutes' walk from the centre of town, this is a great option.

Peppers Seaport

If you are looking for some waterfront accommodation, Peppers is the place to stay. Located at Seaport, this hotel offers amazing views over the river, is only a few minutes' walk from the centre of town, and has a number of restaurants at its doors including Mud Bar, Levee Food Co and Spice Lounge (more on this below). Peppers have also opened up the Silo Hotel located across the water, which was not there when we lived in Launceston, but has received some excellent reviews.

 

The Mantra Charles Hotel

The Mantra Charles is a great option if you want to be right in the centre of town but still with quiet rooms. We stayed here before getting an early overseas flight (as we didn't want to leave Burnie at about 4am) and it was a very convenient option for getting to the airport, being only a 10-15 minute drive away.

 

Where to eat

 

Cataract on Paterson

My favourite restaurant in Launceston is, without a doubt, Cataract on Paterson. Located just near Cataract Gorge, this restaurant gives industrial-chic vibes as soon as you walk in. The extensive menu includes a variety of fresh Tasmanian seafood and meats, and one of my favourite meals is the hot stone, which comes with your choice of meat (the eye fillet is particularly incredible) on a searing hot stone for you to cook to your liking, served with chips or potatoes, and vegetables or salad.

However, you can't go to Cataract on Paterson without sampling their desserts. My favourites include the chocolate fondant, the cold stone sundae with salted caramel ice cream, and the panookie (a cookie baked in a pan served with ice cream and sauce), the flavour of which changes regularly. My only regret is the fact that we only discovered this restaurant six months after first moving to Launceston.


 

Stillwater

Stillwater was one of the first restaurants we tried in Launceston (we went here about a month before we officially moved down, to scout out properties to rent). Not far from Cataract on Paterson, it is situated on the waterfront close by to Cataract Gorge. It offers delicious breakfasts such as waffles with caramelised banana, but my favourite time to visit is for dinner while the sun is setting, where you can sample dishes such as Mount Gnomon pork belly, Tasmanian wallaby or whole-baked snapper.

 

Black Cow Bistro

For one of the best steaks in town (and possibly of your life), Black Cow Bistro, in the centre of town, is the place to go. We went here on my birthday when we lived in Launceston, and the incredible steaks (in particular the eye fillet Cape Grim Beef) served with their potato gallette are definitely worth trying.

 

Geronimo

Geronimo is an awesome bar and restaurant located in the centre of town on Charles St. It's a great spot to grab an after-work drink, or to meet with friends over a range of their share plates, including haloumi fries with celariac dip, shredded brisket with peppered rag pasta, or skirt steak with wombok and chimichurri.

 

Bryher Cafe

One of my favourite cafes for breakfast in Launceston has to be Bryher Cafe. This cozy little spot on George Street is the perfect nook to head to on a winter's day in Launceston, particularly for their excellent coffee, home-made donuts, four grain porridge with rhubarb, or croque monsieur.

 

Burger Junkie

Another one of the places that I miss the most from Launceston is Burger Junkie. Now with a shopfront, Burger Junkie operated out of a food truck when we were living there in 2016, and their burgers were absolutely incredible. The standout for me was the All Canadian burger, made with beef, streaky bacon, cheese, lettuce, onion rings, maple whisky glaze, bbq sauce and mayo.

 

Novaro's

Novaro's is a small Italian restaurant on Brisbane St in the centre of town, and you feel like you are stepping into an Italian family's home as you set foot in this restaurant. Serving dishes such as seafood pappardelle, slow roasted lamb gnocchi and 14 hour braised Cape Grim rib eye with rosemary chat potatoes, it's hard to say no to a meal here. I especially remember their chocolate fondant being one of the standout fondants I've ever had.

 

Brisbane St Bistro

Located next to Novaro's is Brisbane St Bistro, a French inspired restaurant with delicious dishes like Parisian choux gnocchi, prosciutto wrapped eye fillet, and rolled and grilled pork shoulder. They also offer a tasting menu if you can't choose between all of the amazing options on the al a carte menu. Their rich chocolate fudge dessert with chocolate mint soil and peppermint cream sorbet is the perfect way to finish off a meal here.

 

Spice Lounge

Spice Lounge was situated about 50 metres from our apartment in Launceston on Seaport Boulevard, which made those lazy evenings a lot easier knowing we didn't have to cook and could stroll downstairs to grab some excellent Indian takeaway from here. I'd go so far as to say that this was the best Indian takeaway I have ever had. The excellent quality of meat paired with flavoursome and fragrant sauces, not to mention their fresh naan bread, makes my mouth water just thinking about it. If you have a group of four or more, the banquet special (which includes free top ups of curries, rice and naan bread) is an excellent dine-in option.

What to do

 

Walk at Cataract Gorge

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Launceston is Cataract Gorge. Located pretty close to the centre of town, the gorge has a number of beautiful hiking trails ranging from short flat walks to longer, steeper hikes including the hike to the Duck Reach Power Station. You can take the scenic chairlift to get incredible views over the gorge and the basin, or grab lunch at the Gorge Restaurant where you can spot a number of beautiful peacocks.


 

Harvest Markets

Another one of the activities that I miss the most from living in Launceston was our weekly Saturday morning trip to the Harvest Farmers Markets. There was an amazing community feel at the markets (it was rare to go and not see a friend there), and the incredible fresh food ranging from seafood, lamb, beef, bacon, raspberries, apples, greens, avocados, fresh breads, pastries and cheeses, as well as the delicious breakfasts such as the haloumi and chorizo burger from Meat Bread Cheese or the haloumi, pear and rocket roll from Wanderlust, made this a highlight of my week in Launceston.

 

Drive to the nearby wineries

As Launceston is located on the Tamar River, there are a number of amazing wineries in the Tamar Valley and beyond that are a short drive from the centre of town. Some of my favourites include Josef Chromy (well worth a stop here for lunch as well), Tamar Ridge, Jansz and Pipers Brook.

 

Visit City Park

Launceston's biggest park is City Park, and it is a beautiful area to stroll through, particularly in autumn as the golden leaves are falling off the trees. One of the most unique aspects of this park is the display of Japanese Macaque monkeys (otherwise known as snow monkeys), which were gifted to Launceston from its sister city of Ikeda City in Japan. 

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