As those in the know will tell you, Tasmania punches well above its weight on the food and wine front. In fact, there are so many incredible eateries dotted around the main island that it would be impossible to list a definitive top 10 Tasmania restaurants without getting into virtual fisticuffs with fellow foodies.
With that in mind, the following Tassie restaurant list loops around the island state veering from casual and low-key to haute property. Here are my favourite restaurants in Tasmania.
1- Pumphouse Point
Pumphouse Point is the ultimate restaurant with rooms. Guests are prone to fist pumping when ensconced in the dining room at the old Art Deco pumping station, which is located at the end of a long, narrow pier overlooking Lake St Clair.
The five-story Hydro Electricity Scheme pump house was built in the 1940s and designed to draw water from the lake and channel it downstream.
The old building was never used as a pump house, and developer Simon Currant has repurposed it as a wilderness retreat, giving it a new lease on life.
While the rooms have a larder filled with food and beverages, the dining room also offers a menu designed to share, featuring rustic favourites such as the long-roasted shoulder of lamb. Impress your fellow guests and arrive by seaplane.
Pumphouse Point, 1 Lake St Clair Rd, tel: +0428 090 436, is also a great spot to see the Southern Lights.
2- Franklin Hobart
At the heart of Franklin Hobart is a big Scotch wood-fired oven.
Reserve a ringside seat at the bar and tuck into wood-roasted abalone wrapped in bull kelp or creamy angasi oysters.
The menu changes daily, with daring dishes driven by what is in season. There’s plenty of soul in Franklin, which is housed in the old Mercury’s printing press floor.
The industrial-themed space is ostensibly a tapas bar that specialises in wood-fired cooking with small plate options such as salt cod mantecato and mussel and potato galette and big plates of slow-roasted meats.
Franklin Hobart 3435 Channel Highway, Woodbridge, Tasmania, tel: +61 3 6267 4088; 30 Argyle St, Hobart, tel: +61 3 6234 3375.
3- Mount Gnomon Farm Restaurant
If you dig the pig and want to enjoy the whole farm-to-fork experience in situ, you will easily find your happy place at Mount Gnomon Farm Restaurant.
This is a working pig farm, so the restaurant is literally sitting pretty in the front paddock.
As well as stopping by to stock up on meat and small goods, visitors can order from a menu that is kept pretty simple: pork sausage ragout with fresh fettuccine and dressed greens, shredded smoked pork shoulder or a farmer’s platter of rare beef, cheddar, artichokes, camembert and lavosh.
Turn up with time to spare so you can stride around the farm with the good people at Mount Gnomon Farm, who love to educate their customers about what they are selling.
Mount Gnomon Farm Restaurant, 886 Ironcliffe Road, Penguin, Tasmania, tel: 0499 698 999.
4- Josef Chromy
Located in northern Tasmania, Josef Chromy’s winemaking style is all about balance, striving to marry fruit, natural acidity, structure, tannin and texture.
Say yes to Tasmania Rannoch Farm quail, blood plum, beets and black pudding or the three-hour lamb rump, milk curd, charred zucchini and spring onions, glazed chickpeas and sesame.
Josef Chromy, 370 Relbia Rd, Tasmania, tel: +61 2 6335 8700.
5- The Highland Restaurant
After enjoying a day’s hiking under a pure blue sky around Cradle Mountain, the Highland Restaurant feels like the equivalent of pulling on a pair of clean woolly socks.
After all that air and space, it feels like the lap of luxury when high and dry in the dining room ordering from a menu that veers from lovely, light options such as hot-smoked trout and sesame and pear beef tartare to hearty fare such as Tasmanian Dutch cream potato gnocchi or a rack of roasted Tasmanian lamb with butternut squash puree, roasted beetroot, olive oil crumbs and wattle seed mascarpone.
Make time to curl up around the fire for a cheese and wine tasting.
The Highland Restaurant, 4038 Cradle Mountain Rd, Cradle Mountain, tel: 1300 806 192.
6- Mrs Jones
Pull up at the copper-clad bar or slide into one of the comfortable leather sofas and watch the water dancing in the wind over the Bass Straight. As for the food experience, that landscape is front of mind as all that you are eating has come from the waters or pastures close by.
Located above the Devonport Surf Club, Mrs Jones is a low-key restaurant that represents good value and a quick glimpse at the menu tells you the chef has an understanding of the very best things in life.
Say stuff it and order the chargrilled quail sausage filled with chorizo and shiitake mushrooms or the rice paper rolls with tempura soft shell crab, pink ginger, avocado and Vietnamese mint.
Mrs Jones, 41 Bluff Rd, Devonport, tel: +61 3 6423 3881.
7- The Black Cow Bistro
What’s your beef? Seriously? Chew on that question at the Black Cow Bistro, an upmarket steakhouse that gets its moo on at the Heritage-listed Art Deco Luck’s butchery shop in Launceston, Tasmania.
Specialising in premium free-range, grass-fed and artificial hormone-free Tasmanian beef that has been dry-aged, the steaks veer from lean eye fillets to Scotch fillet and rib eye that chef Craig Will guarantees he will grill into something wonderful. Yes, there’s fish on the menu but it’s the steaks that deserve their own hashtag.
Black Cow Bistro, 70 George St, Launceston, tel: +61 3 6331 9333.
8- Palate Restaurant Saffire Freycinet
Palate Restaurant, at Saffire, Freycinet, is for guests only. Exclusivity aside, it costs, but it’s worth it.
Aside from the actual experience of staying smack bang on the edge of Tasmania’s scenic East Coast, the dining options on offer at Saffire Freycinet are truly world-class.
From eating fresh-shucked oysters while knee-deep in an estuary to enjoying main-course degustation dinners matched with local wines, everything is brought back to that local sustainable connection with the land – from seafood line-caught from the bay to greens plucked from a farm over the way – and a fresh and innovative way to preparing food.
Warn executive chef Hugh Whitehouse of any likes or dislikes and then surrender to his supremely good taste.
Saffire Freycinet, 2352 Coles Bay Rd, Coles Bay Tasmania, tel: +61 6256 7888.
9- The Source
It would not do if the food at The Source were not as acutely composed as the works hung on the cement walls of the world-famous Mona museum next door.
When you’ve surfaced for air from the Museum of Old and New Art, take a lift up to the neatly manicured lawn and discover this striking rectangle of a restaurant where you can download about the gallery experience over a degustation.
The food here, like many of Mona’s artworks, will make you giggle with pleasure.
Say ‘aaaah’ over the wagyu beef tongue, ravigote sauce of anchovy, capers and sweet smoked pepper, and admire the serious cooking and provenance that underpins the startlingly fresh pan-seared scallops, asparagus, lardons, quail egg, mushroom and red wine sauce.
We suspect that the creative force behind Mona, multi-millionaire gambler David Walsh would appreciate the intensity of the dessert that is a coffee floating island with a moat of lemongrass anglaise and bitter chocolate. Go straight to The Source.
The Source, 655 Main Road, Berriedale, Hobart, + 61 3 6277 9900.