In retrospect, I really did go highly ham when it came to food in Tassie. Here’s my round-up of all the rest of the bits and bobs I ate in my 10 days away, not including the markets, Bruny Island, or the restaurants that got full reviews. Yep, it was a pretty good time.
Highlights: Bury Me Standing, Freycinet Marine Farm, Lobster Shack
Bury Me Standing
83-85 Bathurst St
Hobart, TAS 7000
Australia needs more bagels, and whilst I’m not enough of a bagel connoisseur to be able to tell a good bagel from a great one, the offerings at Bury Me Standing are far from the offensive circular breads you see at the supermarket. They have all the classics here (minus the smoked salmon – the menu is largely vegetarian/vegan), but they also have some truly irreverent creations, such as the Spicy Tropical Bagel Dog, which has a meat-free hot dog, pineapple, chilli jam, and cheese. The place itself is also cute and friendly; very kitsch, with a heavy vintage gothic vibe. I mean, the place is called Bury Me Standing for goodness’ sake.
The x-factor: crazy bagel creations.
The signature here is the Top Notch Bagel ($9), which is admittedly pretty weird. An everything bagel is sliced, toasted, then topped with vegan jalapeno cashew schmear, pickles, and black pepper. But I’ll be damned if the flavour didn’t grow on me, and extra props to the bagel itself – you can actually taste the ‘everything’, rather than just an indistinct mouthful of seeds.
The Cinnamon Crunch Bagel with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese ($8.5) is the crowd-pleaser, and you’d be kidding yourself if you think this counts as breakfast rather than dessert, but man is it worth the mid-morning crash.
The Flat White ($4.8) here is strong and dark. Not the most subtle, but does a good job smoothing out the early wakeup.
Ether Building, 655 Main Road
Berriedale, TAS 7011
Only at a place like MONA would there be a wine bar, two in-house restaurants, and three cellar doors. But I’m more interested in Dubsy, the vegan-friendly food stand located on the back lawn. Pretty much everything on the menu is plant-based, though if you MUST eat a bit of dead animal, they also have a pretty great wallaby pita. Live music starts at noon, and combined with the fresh air and beautiful views, is a nice reprieve from the brilliant but mentally exhausting museum itself.
Highlights: good vibes
The Super Veg Salad ($18), as the name suggests, is more than just your token offering of greens. The variety of leaves here is good fun, and the combination of roasties, nuts and seeds, and olives are pretty great too. The cheese is vegan and does lack that delicious creamy tang of traditional feta, but it’s still a very satisfying salad all up.
The Smoked Wallaby Pita ($22) is the only meat option on the menu, but it’s a good one. A cross between a roti and pita is topped with a spiced wallaby stew, plus some other bits and bobs. And if you’re wondering, wallaby tastes like beef, minus a big part of the environmental guilt that should haunt you all.
Kate’s Berry Farm
12 Addison St
Swansea, TAS 7190
If you turn off the Tasman Highway on your way to Freycinet, there’s an incredibly quaint little spot called Kate’s Berry Farm. A small detour will net you house-made jams, a range of chocolates, and your usual selection of condiments. A generous tasting bar lets you try pretty much all the house-made products, with the sugar-free jams being an especial highlight. On the other side you’ll find a berry-themed cafe, with a variety of desserts, a couple savouries, and some rather overpriced drinks. It’s not a place to write home about, but between the bucolic vibe, sweet treats, and lovely hospitality, it’s more than the sum of its parts.
Highlights: peak countryside chilling
With the recommendation of Kate herself, we sat down with a slice of Blueberry Raspberry and Apple Pie ($17.5). As I’ve read in the past, the crust is soggy from being microwaved. But the overall effect is a pretty decent one. The crust is indulgently buttery, and there’s plenty of fresh fruit filling. The highlight for me however was the vanilla ice cream, which is creamy, silky, with visible flecks of vanilla. The accompanying Flat White ($5) and Hot Chocolate ($5.5) were one step away from being bad; the coffee too hot and slightly burnt, and the hot chocolate powdered. But hey, I’m sugared-up and caffeinated up now, so I’m only so upset.
Freycinet Marine Farm
1784 Coles Bay Rd
Coles Bay, TAS 7215
If you’re a seafood person, then Freycinet Marine Farm is the one place not to miss. But then again, if you’re a seafood person, you probably already know all about this little gem. This place honestly has all of your aquatic needs covered, and everything on the menu is hauled out of the ocean just metres away. And if you’re lucky and the weather holds, you’ll even be able to eat your catch in their beautiful little garden, seashells crunching underfoot.
Highlights: the seafood (obviously).
In the refrigerated cabinet, you’ll find the likes of natural oysters, marinated seafood, and of course, Salmon Sashimi ($15), which was buttery-soft and fresh as can be.
I then proceeded to gorge myself on an enormous pot of Mussels Espana ($24). These were easily the best mussels I’ve ever had. Huge and plump, these were so creamy and tender they were almost the texture of oysters. The tomato, onion, and capsicum-based sauce on top isn’t my favourite, but the spicy broth at the bottom is worth your time. If you’re not going to drink it, then at least dunk the bread roll in. On a side note, who made oysters the sexual bivalve? If anything, mussels look way more like genitalia.
The classic Fish and Chips ($24) here is as good as you would hope. The fish was hot, crisp, and tender, and the chunky tartare sauce is exactly what you want to be slathering on top of it. The chips deserve an extra round of applause; too often the second half of fish and chips is a mere afterthought, when it should really be a harmonious partnership. But here, the potatoes are beer battered and super crunchy, and just as good as the fish itself. After all, it’s fish and chips, not fish and by the way also have some chips. And if, like me, you simply must have some veg, then you could do far worse than the Green Salad with Avocado ($6). Not only is there a good variety of fresh leaves and generous chunks of avocado, it’s tied together with a very moreish palm sugar dressing. Yes please.
Coles Bay, TAS 7125
I have a love-hate relationship with Iluka Tavern. We had just wrapped up a two-hour kayaking trip across Wineglass Bay that left us cold, tired, and hungry (it was actually a really great time – would highly recommend). So we rocked up to Iluka Tavern at about 8:45pm, desperate for a hot meal, only to find that the kitchen closed at 8:30pm, even though the restaurant itself didn’t close until 10. Given that every other restaurant within about a 50km was also shut by that point, we ended up having to cobble together a meal from the miscellany we picked up during our trip so far. We eventually made it back to Iluka Tavern a couple days later, but I’m not sure I will ever forgive them in my heart of hearts, even if the food was surprisingly good, and portions alarmingly generous.
The must-know: THE KITCHEN CLOSES at 8:30PM. I REPEAT. 8:30PM.
So, about the portion sizes. The Mediterranean Chargrilled Calamari ($15.9) is more than large enough to be a main, especially when you take into consideration the enormous garden salad topped with tomato, cucumber, and feta (I refuse to call it a Greek salad). The Chicken Parma ($26.5) is even more impressive – thick enough to rival an eye fillet steak, and big enough to cover an entire dinner plate. And that’s not even including the side of fries and greens. Thankfully everything was also well-made; it’s quality and quantity here, folks.
Geographe Restaurant and Espresso Bar
6 Garnet Ave
Coles Bay, TAS 7125
Geographe Restaurant and Espresso Bar is one of the few all-day dining options in the Coles Bay area. You have your breakfast classics in the morning, café fare for lunch, and pizzas are on the menu for dinner. It’s rather popular given its prime location overlooking The Hazards, and the food is pretty decent too, with a good amount of variety, and even a couple of rather inventive dishes.
Highlights: best place for breakfast in the area.
It’s hard to mess up a Breakfast Burger ($12), and this one is enough to keep the engine running all day, especially with a side of Hash Browns ($3.5). The Salsa Scramble ($18) was decent, but not as punchy as I had expected, tasting more like just your average scramble stirred through with raw veg and topped with pesto. At least you get plenty of egg, even if it is a bit watery.
The Lobster Shack
Bicheno, TAS 7215
The Lobster Shack was a last-minute discovery, and even though it was pouring down on the day we visited, it was still absolutely worth the detour. Not only is the food fantastic, there is also a killer view out over the bay to accompany it. I can only image how lovely it would be to sit on the leafy deck on a sunny afternoon, glass of champagne in hand, and a buttery lobster on the way.
Highlights: champagne lobster brunch
I deliberately went for the Lobster Roll ($19) instead of the half lobster, so as to have room to try more things, and there were zero regrets. Crisp buttered bun, sweet chunks of lobster, and a creamy dill-spiked aioli – this sandwich had everything just right. An A+ lobster roll.
It may not be the most eye-catching item on the menu, but the Seafood Chowder ($20) is a must-order. The creamy soup was indulgent but never heavy, its surface concealing an unbelievable abundance of plump scallops and tender fish. The garlic bread on the side is the only unremarkable aspect, but – and I never thought I would say this about garlic bread – you really don’t need it.
I’ve heard great things about the Premium Aussie Prawns ($20, 8pcs); something about them being brined instead of frozen which results in better flavour. I’m not sure these were as life-changing as some people made them about to be, but they are definitely the largest and juiciest prawns I have ever had. And as passé as cocktail sauce may be, this one here makes it clear why it is always traditionally served with prawns.
Pyengana Dairy Company
St Columba Falls Rd
Pyengana, TAS 7216
If you’re someone who’s snobby about your cheese (guilty), then Pyengana Dairy Company is probably not the place for you. But if you’re someone who enjoys a piece tasty cheese sliced off the block as a midnight snack (also guilty), then this will be right up your alley. Unlike Bruny Island Cheese Co, which is all about artisanal cheese, Pyengana focuses more on a range of flavoured cheddars that have broader appeal, and less painful on the wallet to boot. But that’s not to say they’re slack. All the milk they use come from their own cows, which can be seen grazing in the neighbouring pastures in all their black-and-white-patterned glory, looking for the world like a postcard extolling the virtues of country living. And cheese manufacturing is done on site as well – you can see them straining the curds through the windows, so you know they’re not cheating.
Highlights: Scones, oddly enough. And the fantastic hospitality. And the gorgeous scenery.
For a Tasting Plate ($15), this was remarkably generous. My pick is the Persian Fetta, which was a moreish balance between creamy and salty. The least favourite would be the Blue; nothing wrong with it, I just don’t do blue cheese. And in between we have the Original Cheddar, as well as 4 flavoured varieties – Pickled Onion, Chilli, Peppercorn, Devilish (a combination of chilli, chives, and onion). None of them were remarkable in any way, but I enjoyed them all for what they were, and were more than happy to pack up the remainder to snack on later in the night.
To our great surprise, the highlight of Pyengana Dairy was actually the scones. We had originally ordered one serve of Devonshire Tea ($12), but after something like 10 minutes, the chef himself came running out with two plates, apologising profusely for taking ‘too long’ with our order, and gave us another pair of scones as ‘compensation’. Can you beat that for sweetness?? Anyway, these were easily the best scones I’ve ever had, and that’s including the ones from those fancy traditional high tea places. Fresh from the oven and impossibly light in the middle, these were served with lashings of double cream, and a fantastic raspberry jam. We managed to make our way through just over 2 of them – hampered somewhat by the Chocolate Milkshake we got in lieu of tea/coffee – before admitting defeat and packing the rest up to go.
You chew that cud, girl!
Geronimo Aperitivo Bar and Restaurant
186 Charles St
Launceston, TAS 7250
Geronimo is one of the swankier restaurants in town, falling somewhere between a trendy wine bar and a modern Australian bistro. It’s a little less fancy than it sounds on paper, but the menu does a great job of being interesting and seasonal without feeling like it tries too hard. I was here for the happy hour, which runs generously from 3pm-6pm every day, and features a succinct list of snacks, along with a range of half-sized cocktails for a pittance. With a pretty little courtyard at the side, and the greenery of Prince’s Square just across the road, this is a highly lovely place to while away an hour or two.
Hot tip: happy hour is the ticket.
The Rhubarb Fizz ($7, half-size) is a generic though tasty spritz, but the Mûre You In ($12, half-size) is much more interesting. With a rich blackberry liqueur infused with a dark undertone of chocolate, and topped with a dense foam, this is a drink that feel simultaneously classy yet sinful.
The Arancini ($12, 3pcs) is crab and parsnip – an unexpected combination that nevertheless worked well, with a fresh seafood flavour and a subtle hint of earthy tuber. The orange peel-flecked aioli was also a welcome surprise.
Call me basic, but you can’t deny that Sourdough Flatbread ($15) is yum. In this case you get it with your choice of hummus, muhamarra, or in our case, dill labneh. And this was good, even for flatbread. The bread itself was warm, puffy, with a distinct tang, whilst the dip was thick and creamy, with just the right amount of freshness courtesy of the dill and grated cucumber.
The Brown and Town Pickled Mushrooms ($16) were the only thing that came close to being disappointing. It looked rather special on the plate, the fungi paired with soy and linseed crisps planted in cashew chevre. The taste however was…fine. It was nice enough, but I just had no idea what it was trying to do. For that price, you’re much better off getting another serve of sourdough flatbread. Or a trio of empanadas. Or halloumi fries. You catch my drift.
Alchemy Bar and Restaurant
90 George St
Launceston, TAS 7250
Alchemy Bar and Restaurant was our last stop on our Tasmania sojourn, and we only ended up here because the pub we had planned to eat at was unexpectedly shut. To be honest, this place was the definition of mediocre. The food was unexciting, the venue was just fine, and they fall into the trap I hate of serving food from about 8 different nationalities. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – dahl, pappardelle, and donburi do NOT belong on the same menu.
Hot tip: don’t expect much.
I was after something reasonably healthy, and after I had asked for no bacon and dressing on the side, the Chicken Cobb Salad Bowl ($24) more or less fit the bill. Except the leaves were limp, the tomatoes were missing, the guacamole browning, and the chicken so dry that they were sticking to each other. It really was a rather joyless meal; no wonder they serve it with so much mayo.
There’s not much to say about the Chicken Parmigiana ($24). It’s tasty enough and big enough, but otherwise it’s exactly what it says on the packet.