The Best of Launceston – Introduction
Launceston has always waxed and waned in the food and drink offerings that are available. It seems to shine for a year or two and then go to sleep. That is our observation in more than thirty years of visiting this northern city. This is why we have compiled this list of “The Best of Launceston”.
The good news is that it is currently on a high, with some of the venues rivalling those of Hobart. These include one of the best casual dining venues in Tasmania, one of the best beer bars, the best fresh fish shop, the best produce market, some of the best bread and butter, and a couple of very good coffee venues.
Unfortunately the best Creole restaurant has recently closed when the owner decided it was time to retire after 17 years in the business.
The Best of Launceston – Where to Eat, Drink and Shop
Our current favourite restaurant in Launceston is without doubt Pachinko with its exciting Japanese-inflected food and the well-curated drinks menu along with caring and cheerful service. The food here is the type of food we crave. It is not tricked up or trying to be clever. It is just based on excellent ingredients and great technique. The chef here really understands how to ensure that flavour is front and centre.
Also in our “The Best of Launceston” list for an upmarket meal we head to Stillwater that overlooks the Tamar River and opens all day every day from breakfast to dinner. Some of the dishes we were served here at a recent meal were excellent. They also have some very good accommodation here.
If you are in Launceston and looking for a decent steak then there is nowhere better than Black Cow Bistro in the centre of town. Here the steaks are cooked as per your direction and the potato galette served with the steak is a welcome addition. We always start with the fresh oysters as they are always very fresh and from one of the best suppliers in Tasmania. The site has recently been sold to long term staff members so we will look forward to our next visit.
For an informal snack you can drive out to the suburb of Kings Meadows to Fryed where they serve very good fish and chips to eat in at the couple of window benches or to take away. This fish is sourced from Kyeema Seafoods just up the road which is the best seafood outlet in Tasmania.
A venue you should not miss if you are in Launceston on a Saturday morning is Tasmania’s best market – Harvest Launceston. You will receive a warm welcome when you arrive and the staff are always smiling and willing to assist no matter how small the request.
But it is not just about the welcome. The food on offer is not only the best of Launceston and surrounds it is also some of the best in the state. There are three fresh produce stalls that we always visit for their exceptional fruit and vegetables.
These are Lauren and Michael’s Felds Farm organic vegetables which are always of exceptional quality, Wouter from Seven Springs Farm in remote Lorinna where the cool climate sees the vegetables maturing slowly and hence extracting maximum flavour from the soil (sometimes he even has cardoons) and Hillwood Fresh Food Co. who produce some of the best fungi around including the difficult to grow Lions Manes. During the short asparagus season watch out for the Headlam’s stall – their produce is excellent.
Other stalls to visit include the ever-popular Elgaar Farm stall with their stunning organic dairy-based products and their associated Grain Family products, Apiece Sourdough Bakery for their excellent bread products, Fork it Farm for their pork products.
Another deserved entry in our “The Best of Launceston” list is Bread + Butter which is where we always head for breakfast. The pastries are excellent, the bread is also excellent and the coffee is very good. You can also buy coffee here to take away as well as their excellent cultured butter. They have moved to new premises in Elizabeth Street opposite Prince’s Square
The bar scene is also quite strong in Launceston. We couldn’t do a “The Best of Launceston” list without urging a visit to St John bar. This is compulsory to experience the fine selection of beers that are always available (up to 17 taps in action at any one time).
A bar that is gaining attention is Havilah which is a beautiful site serving great wines and good food including meats from Fork it Farm. A recent dish of pasta we had here recently was truly wonderful! Another hidden bar that is worth checking out is Cinco Passiones which you will find in Brisbane Street.
For lunch we may head for another very good venue, Turkish Tukka where the charcoal grilled meats and felafel are of a very good quality.
Launceston is also home to the best fresh fish shop in Tasmania, namely Kyeema Seafoods. They always have a plentiful supply of the freshest possible fish and they are an excellent source of flavoursome options such as blue and grey mackerel.
There is also a small, but vibrant, coffee culture emerging here. There are some businesses that specialise in roasting, namely the Provenance Coffee Company and Ritual Coffee Tasmania both of whom roast some interesting beans sourced from small producers, as does Hutch Coffee.
Good places to drink coffee in Launceston (in addition to Bread + Butter mentioned above) include Prince’s Square Bar, Off Center and Amelia.
And if you feel like an ice cream head for The Devil’s Own Ice Creamery where the chocolate ice cream is excellent and is based on the excellent organic Jersey milk from Elgaar Farm near Deloraine. We like this venue because their ice creams are free from artificial colours and preservatives. Wherever possible, their produce is sourced from organic, ethical and sustainable suppliers.
Another ice cream producer turning out a beautiful product is Della Valle Gelato which you can find at Small Grain and in their van at 179 Invermay Road.
We will regularly update “The Best of Launceston” list as new venues come to our attention.