Stillwater Restaurant Introduction
Stillwater Restaurant has been a stalwart of the Launceston restaurant scene for many years. They have maintained their impeccable standards of food and service over this period and walking in there now you still feel the energy that is a hallmark of this place.
During that time it has aged gracefully and had one change of ownership but with two of the original owners still guiding the ship and two newish owners providing power and energy on the floor.
There has been a gap in our visits here, not because we thought Stillwater wasn’t worth a visit, but other commitments have meant that we have rarely spent much time in this northern city over the last few years.
However we were determined to revisit Stillwater and finally an opportunity arose.
Stillwater Restaurant is set in the former Richie’s Flour Mill sitting right on the banks of the Tamar River, the restaurant exudes an atmosphere of elegance without being in the slightest bit unapproachable.
When you walk through the doors the staff greet all guests warmly and make them feel welcome. You are guided over the highly polished wooden floor to your table and promptly given water (in our case, the excellent sparkling mineral water from Cape Grim) and menus.
You can order a la carte or choose the chef’s five course tasting menu either with a paired matching of Tasmanian wines or without.
We chose from the main menu and we chose our own wine from the extensive wine selection.
Stillwater Restaurant: Food and Wine
The Stillwater wine list mainly features conventional Tasmanian wines, however they do offer some options for natural wine tragics such as ourselves who do not drink wines made from grapes that have been sprayed with systemic sprays, have been fermented with added yeasts and who prefer wines with little or no sulphur added.
We were therefore pleased to see the Tasmanian Brian Pinot Gris half bottle on the list because it is a wine that has had skin contact thus adding to the depth of flavour and has not been fined or filtered and has had no sulphites added at any time. This went perfectly with the first two dishes.
Sourdough with nice crunchy crust and the best butter from the Tasmanian Butter Company was brought to the table while we were waiting for our courses. This company is producing amazing cultured butter and we applaud their quest for excellence in this field.
Our first choice was 4 Tasmanian scallops on the half shell served with whipped white soy and katsuobushi butter. The combination of the soy and the fishy butter enhanced the flavour of the scallops.
The next dish was an absolutely stunning dish of Tasmanian black lipped abalone sitting on top of a chawan mushi-like garlic custard, accompanied by sea succulents and kombu oil with a small jug of miso broth served on the side to pour over the dish. The broth was packed with umami, the garlic custard was soft and yielding and very flavoursome and the abalone was perfectly cooked. Everything came together to form an harmonious experience.
We then switched wines to a Beaujolais made by our young friend Alex Foillard. This was a delicious Gamay made to drink now, but still with some complexity from the organic treatment in the vineyard and the natural winemaking processes he adopts in the winery.
The seafood theme continued with our next choice. We were a bit equivocal about ordering the dish of prawn potsticker dumplings with abalone XO because prawns are not commercially caught in Tasmanian waters. However the promise of abalone XO sauce and potsticker dumplings together was too much to resist. When they arrived the dumplings were joined together with a lacy rice flour crisp batter (a very common way of serving these dumplings in northern China) and topped with crispy saltbush which we always enjoy. The XO sauce was amazing and the dumplings excellent.
The offcuts from the abalone served in the previous dish had been used to good effect for the XO sauce. XO sauce has really taken off in Australia. It is a relatively recent invention coming out of Hong Kong where the use of the term XO is to give the aura of XO Cognac which is a luxury item. The Hong Kong version features dried prawns and dried scallops but the abalone certainly delivered a different but still delicious alternative.
We then switched to meat. A rump cap of Robbins Island wagyu which we asked to be cooked as rare as possible was accompanied by carrot & brown butter puree, smoked fat jus and grilled heirloom carrot. This was also a very good dish and the size of the rump cap perfect for two people who wanted to enjoy the flavour without having too much of this very rich protein.
We finished our meal by sharing a rhubarb and elderflower tart which was served with white chocolate vanilla cream, chunks of rhubarb and an excellent rhubarb sorbet.
There is no doubt that Stillwater Restaurant deserves its place in the state’s elite restaurants.
Note: There is also luxury accommodation associated with Stillwater Restaurant consisting of seven rooms within the same building called Stillwater Seven.
You can see more about this restaurant by clicking on the link to Stillwater Restaurant below:
Street: 2 Bridge St
Town/Suburb: Launceston, 7250
Phone number: +61 3 6331 4153
Opening hours: Breakfast and lunch daily, dinner Tue – Sat