70 George St
Launceston, TAS 7250
Big hikes call for big meals, and there’s really nothing more satisfying than a well-cooked steak. So if you’re hungry after making the trek up Cradle Mountain, Black Cow Bistro is as good of a call as any. Better still, Black Cow Bistro is much more than just your run-of-the-mill steakhouse. It’s actually the only hatted restaurant in Launceston, and one of the few in the whole of Tasmania. Modelled after a French-styled bistro, the menu is a bit reminiscent of a pared-down version of the steak powerhouse that is Rockpool Bar and Grill. Admittedly, the place does feel like it’s trying a little too hard to be fancier than it is, especially when there is absolute nothing wrong with being ‘just’ a high-quality steakhouse, but they more or less get away with it, thanks to their high-quality produce and attentive staff. Cut through the faff however, what you’re left with is some of the best steak going.
Highlights: porterhouse steak (truffled béarnaise non-negotiable)
Rating: 13.5/20 – no mi-steak.
The starters on the menu admittedly felt rather bland, but my choice of Rannoch Farm Quail ($25) made a good case for itself. The bird itself was of course faultlessly succulent, but I almost preferred the hugely smoky grilled broccolini, and the silky cheesy cauliflower sauce it sat on. All up, surprisingly effective, and made me wonder what from the entrees I may be missing out on.
I was ready to party down with the 600g rib-eye, but our fantastic waitron tipped us off about the Porterhouse ‘New York’ Cut ($55.5, 400g), which was his personal favourite, and a hidden gem of the menu. And you know what? It was fab advice. The thick cut of beef was as juicy and flavoursome as promised, with a heavy dose of umami in the charred crust, imparted by the slow rendering of fat over flames. Accompaniments include a complimentary range of mustards, but I would really urge the Truffled Béarnaise ($2) as well.
Accompanying each steak is a complimentary Potato Galette, which tasted as good as it looks. Buttery layers, crispy top, just-right creamy mustard sauce – this is everything a good layered potato dish should be.
A side of Yorktown Organics Baby Carrots ($10), roasted with garlic and drizzled in fennel herb sauce were good, but failed to cause much excitement.
The Mixed Mushrooms ($12.5) on the other hand were absolute heaven, oozing with garlic oil, with a hint of chili and plenty of herbs as respite from the rich, earthy flavours.
If you’ve overindulged, the Lemon Tart ($17.5) is the perfect way to end the meal, regardless of how tempting the Frozen Caramel Slice may seem. This was invigoratingly sharp with a delicately crumbly biscuit base. The honeycomb and brûléed top were less orthodox additions, but the extra sugar worked to balance out the sourness of the lemon. Plus, who doesn’t love a bit of caramelised sugar on top of their dessert?