10 Luxury Restaurants You Must Try in Tasmania

0

fTasmania is a state that makes up less than one percent of Australia’s landmass.

From the pristine waters of a coastline teeming with deep-sea fish, abalone, oysters and even sea urchins, to fertile valleys teeming with farm gates and cellar doors, you can spend happily weeks here drifting from one inviting restaurant to the next, dining on sensational dishes created by innovative chefs, that draw on close-knit communities of local producers, farmers and fishermen.

With most flights landing in Hobart, the Tasmanian capital is a great place to start your food adventure. Hobart’s pioneering restaurant Franklin may have closed its doors in 2020, but there are still plenty of fantastic restaurants to choose from in the compact city centre.

But first, check into a centrally located hotel like MACq 01, where each suite tells the story of a famous or notorious Tasmanian. This unique “Storytelling Hotel” sits right on the waterfront overlooking Constitution Dock, and my spacious room features floor-to-ceiling glass doors and a balcony for full water views. I also enjoyed staying at the nearby boutique Hotel Moss, which offers a range of cozy, well-appointed suites spread across a pretty old brownstone warehouse and historic pub on Salamanca Place.

If you choose MACq 01 you won’t have to travel far for your first meal: the on-site Old Wharf Restaurant, managed by Simon Pockran, a former chef at the ultra-luxurious Tasmanian resort of Saffire, reinterprets and refines traditional family dishes. (This is also where you get breakfast in the mornings.) Across the street from MACq 01, at its sister hotel The Henry Jones, culinary curator Ben Milbourne scours the state for the best produce to be found on Peacock and Jones’ seasonal menus are .

Away from Constitution Dock, Dier Makr offers elaborate tasting menus packed with flavors in a tiny space a short walk from the water — note you need to book well in advance, and it’s only open Thursday through Saturday. Oh, and the name is pronounced like a heavily slurred “Jamaica.” There is a wine option to match and an eclectic wine list – the night I dined here we had an unfiltered Mtsvane from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.

About a 20-minute walk or five-minute drive from Constitution Dock, popular “neighborhood restaurant” Templo offers a weekly seasonal chef’s menu of Mediterranean-influenced, richly flavored dishes and pairs them with minimal intervention Italian wine varietals. It’s a small dining room and one of the few restaurants in town that’s open on Monday evenings, but while it’s busy on the evening I dine here, the dishes come out with impressive regularity.

For a long lunch paired with excellent biodynamic wines, head to Osteria Vista at Stefano Lubiana Wines, a 25-minute drive from the city center in the Derwent Valley, past Mona. Here you can enjoy a leisurely Italian-inspired four-course tasting lunch from Friday to Sunday. Alternatively, opt for a light Italian lunch at Cafe Cibo e Vino at Battery Point, perched on a knoll above Salamanca Place.

Australia’s most awarded whiskey is distilled in Hobart: Sullivan’s Cove has received several gongs at the World Whiskeys Awards for its divine single malts. Taste whiskeys and take a distillery tour in Cambridge, between the airport and the city centre. The distillery and tasting room are located in a warehouse in a nondescript industrial area, but what happens inside is magical. Prefer a drink in town? Tasmanian single malt whiskey pioneer Lark Distillery’s tasting room has a prime location on Hobart’s waterfront at Constitution Dock. You can also choose from around 150 Tasmanian whiskeys to sample at The Still, Lark’s new whiskey and cocktail bar a few blocks from the waterfront.

A must-stop on any Tasmanian gourmet road trip is Rodney Dunn and Séverine Demanet’s Agrarian Kitchen Eatery in New Norfolk, a 40-minute drive from Hobart. Here we dine on expertly prepared dishes using seasonal local produce in a high-ceilinged room on the site of a former mental asylum. From April, the relocated Agrarian Cooking School & Kitchen Garden is launching a program of on-site cooking classes, including two-day whole hog nose-to-tail experiences if you want to immerse yourself in hyper-local cuisine.

fLaunceston, Tasmania’s second city and the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding Food Bowl and wineries of the Tamar Valley, is around two and a half hours’ drive from New Norfolk. Foodie lodging of choice is Stillwater Seven, housed in a former flour mill at the mouth of Cataract Gorge. The seven suites here overlook the River Tamar and feature massive exposed wooden beams and lots of green velvet. I was tempted to raid the impressive minibar and sink into the huge bed in my room, but instead I took the door leading down to Stillwater, Launceston’s most awarded fine dining experience, for an unforgettable meal overlooking the river .

A 10-minute walk from the Stillwater Seven brings you to Launceston’s walkable shopping and dining district. You’ll find many great options for breakfast or lunch here, including Bread + Butter, a bakery, cafe and butter factory all in one. Sample a selection of Tasmanian craft beers at Saint John Craft Beer, also in the city center, before dining at nearby Pachinko, which serves sustainably farmed, organic and ethically sourced modern Asian dishes. Come during the colder months, like me, and you might fancy a large steak and glass of red wine at Black Cow Bistro, Stillwater’s sister restaurant in town, which grills dry-aged Cape Grim and Robbins Island beef to perfection.

After munching your way through Launceston, it’s time for some foodie forays outside of the city. A 50 minute drive west of town brings you to Truffle Farm in Deloraine, the first of its kind in Australia. I accompany Mandy, a Border Collie Kelpie crossbreed, as she sniffs for black truffles in the farm’s hazelnut groves, then watch the fragrant, earthy nuggets that are sorted on site. Then we can taste the prey of the previous days shaved over a rich mushroom soup – great. You can book a truffle hunt with optional lunch from December to September each year, and there is a farm shop where you can take home sealed truffle packs and truffle butter.

Head north from Launceston and you’ll be in wine country in less than 15 minutes – the first cellar door you’ll come across is Vélo Wines, which focuses on French varietals. The cool climate Tamar Valley wine region is best known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Riesling, with more than 30 wineries in the region.

Standout wineries on the road from Launceston along the west side of the river to the coast include Moores Hill Estate, which produces fine Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling in Tasmania’s first solar-powered winery, and Stoney Rise, where you can sample minimal-intervention wines in one striking cellar door complex.

Then there’s Tamar Ridge, where winemakers are on a mission to produce “elegant and exciting” Pinot Noir – try your hand at the winery’s cellar door, which is just up the road from Vélo. If you time your visit well, you can enjoy Danielle Lefrancois’ delicious contemporary French-influenced cuisine at her Hubert + Dan Restaurant at Tamar Ridge for lunch every weekend and for dinner every other Thursday night.

The Tamar Valley is also known for its premium sparkling wines. Take the Batman Bridge over the River Tamar into the Pipers River sub-region to see the fruits of a terroir remarkably similar to France’s Champagne region. In summer, arrange a visit to pioneer Andrew Pirie’s Apogee Cellar Door in the Tamar Valley to sample his exceptional single-vineyard sparkling wines, or head to nearby Clover Hill to sample six of the award-winning house’s elegant sparkling wines. Clover Hill’s basement door faces the east side of the Tamar Valley, so while you work your way through the six pours you can plan the next stop on your journey of discovery.

porter

When to go

With COVID causing so much disruption, the question of when to kick off now has two parts: what time of year and what part of the week. As the pandemic endgame unfolds, most city and regional restaurants are closed Mondays and Tuesdays, with many also closed on Sundays or Wednesdays. So if you’re looking to munch your way across the state, plan on having a meager selection during the first half of the week. The mild summer months are ideal as a time of year, but can also be quite busy. Winters are cool here, but there are also a number of food and drink festivals such as Dark MoFo winter festival in June, Tasmanian Whiskey Week and Bridport’s Tassie Scallop Fiesta in August.

What to pack

Whatever time of year you visit Tasmania, pack a sweater and raincoat in your suitcase, especially if you’re heading to the west coast, which is known as one of the wettest places on earth. Tasmania’s east side escapes much of the west’s flooding, and Hobart is actually the second driest state capital after Adelaide. Dress in layers in winter because while the early mornings and evenings are chilly, the sun can still be strong in the middle of the day. And dress in smart casual attire all year round to mingle with the locals
in upscale restaurants.

The most memorable meal

With black truffles costing upwards of $2,000 per kilogram, you typically only get a few slivers in restaurant dishes claiming to contain this precious ingredient. But dine at Launceston’s Stillwater in the winter months and you can enjoy multiple courses of truffle-heavy delights created by chef Craig Will and paired with fine Tasmanian wines. Even the dessert smells of the earthy mushroom, an unlikely but winning combination.

Share.

Comments are closed.