Jul 112011

I love Italian food.  I have a newly discovered passion for seafood.  Combine the two and I am one happy camper!

We were chatting with our B&B hosts in Launceston (from the lovely Kurrajong House) and of course I asked for recommendations for dinner.  Novaro’s was the first place Julie mentioned and she kindly offered to make a booking for us.

We arrived at 6.30pm (we’re early eaters) and by 7 the restaurant was turning people away.  I should add, it is quite cute and tiny, and it was a Wednesday night.  The hostess knows Julie and provides lovely service, although it does drop off a bit after a large group arrives.

It’s our honeymoon, so of course we are trying not to be too concerned about money.  The abalone is a novelty – neither J or I have ever tried it.  It’s served as an entree, thinly sliced with mushrooms and butter on linguine.  It adds a certain saltiness and texture to the dish, and the whole dish is tasty, but I must confess I don’t really see what all the hype is about.  I would have been equally as happy with just mushrooms!

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Our mains are fantastic – I have the prawn linguine and J has the seafood linguine.  The sauces are slightly different – one more chilli based, one more garlic I think but both are buttery and rich.  The seafood is fresh off the boat and generously portioned.

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I feel we had dessert, but my memory is failing me and I can’t find any photographic evidence.  I do remember some kind of complementary liqueur with the bill, which was a nice touch!

Novaro’s is a bit of a Launceston institution, and it’s easy to see why.  They aren’t reinventing the wheel when it comes to Italian food, but they are doing traditional food well.

Novaro’s Italian Restaurant
28 Brisbane St
Launceston, Tas
Ph: 03 6334 5589
Web:  www.novaros.com

Jun 152011

Stillwater is located at the Old Mill in Launceston, with a beautiful view out over the water.  Unfortunately it was night when we went, so we didn’t get to see too much!

It was day 2 of the honeymoon, and we used this is an excuse to spend up big and enjoy 3 full courses!  Stillwater is definitely a high-end restaurant and the prices are reflective of this fact.  I particularly liked the emphasis on local and sustainable produce – something I would love to see more of in Brisbane.  My only criticism of the night was that I was quite cold in our corner – although that could just been my sensitive Queensland skin!

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First up was the blue cheese souffle – I think this was a double baked souffle but it retained a lot of air and was quite light.  I believe that was an pear sauce which paired with the dish perfectly.  But the highlight is hidden behind the souffle – the most amazing dwarf fig, cooked in a sweet reduction of some kind.  We later tracked down these tiny figs and brought some home with us.

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This is Julian’s pine nut caramelised onion tart – covered in a Pyengana sauce.  He rated it highly and was particularly fond of the crisp little green apple/celery salad served with it.

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I had the blue trevella and Julian enjoyed the trout (first pic).  Seafood in Tasmania is something special.  The sauce with my blue eye trevella is called a white balsamic beurre blanc on the menu and it was exceptional.  I loved this dish.

My only complaint about the meals was that the sides were definitely on the small side (particularly given the price) – but they were delicious (we had the mushrooms).

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We were so full at this point, but couldn’t pass up dessert – so we shared the white chocolate and tonka bean marquise – it was beautiful, light and creamy, definitely a cut above your average restaurant dessert.

Ritchie’s Mill
Launceston, TAS
Ph: 03 6331 4153
Web: http://www.stillwater.net.au

Jun 062011

For years I was never really into seafood.  I’ve always liked fish – I think because for many years we were spoilt with the freshest whiting caught off the beach by my grandpa.  But prawns, scallops, shellfish – it never really appealed.

I started to like prawns when J’s mum made the most amazing marinated prawn skewers that were cooked on the BBQ.  The prawns were fresh from a local prawn farm.  My love and appreciation of seafood has been slowly evolving since that point.  My most memorable scallops were cooked in cream and garlic in New Zealand, and were caught fresh off the dock out the front of the accommodation.

I guess there is a theme here – and that is freshness.  Tasmania has some of the most amazing seafood I’ve ever tasted, and in St Helens we ate dinner at a restaurant where you could literally see the boats that brought in the catch daily from the window.

It seemed an appropriate place to try lobster for the first time.  And although the price made me blanche slighly, we were on our honeymoon, so what better time to justify the expense!

It didn’t disappoint – the flesh was sweet and tender, with a pool of melted butter inside the shell.  The sides were a beautiful artichoke risotto and steamed greens.

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J began with the oysters – again, the quality was unsurpassed, and they were served simply with a champagne sauce.  For his main, he had fresh ocean trout with a sesame skin and clams and noodles in an Asian style broth.

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Although my stomach was groaning at me, I couldn’t miss an opportunity to have dessert.  My eyes were bigger than my stomach, and there was no way I could finish the decadent chocolate torte -but I sure gave it a try!  J finished every bit of his delicious honey panna cotta – proclaiming that we would have to try to replicate it at home!

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Blue Shed sits right out over the water, and we were on the side closest to the boats – it was a beautiful spot to stare out at the water and stars.  The service was attentive and cheerful, and I cannot recommend this place highly enough.   The fish and chip place next door is fantastic also – a bit pricier than usual but worth it!

Blue Shed
Marina Parade
St Helens, Tasmania
Ph: 03 6376 1170
Web: www.blueshedrestaurant.com.au

May 312011

This is a small, busy Italian restaurant in Hobart.  A small word of warning – take your jacket if you need to go to the bathroom, as it’s outside and down a short flight of stairs – this proved to be quite chilly after the warm restaurant!  Also, bookings are virtually essential.

For our entree we had some great deep fried stuffed green olives (stuffed with some kind of meat?).

J then had slow cooked lamb shanks with confit tomatoes (conveniently taken off the bone before they reached us).

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I had beautiful fresh, light, crab ravioli – with confit tomatoes, basil and zucchini.  Confit tomatoes were a particular highlight – I must experiment!

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We finished the meal with a shared trio of gelati, but I’m afraid it did not rate as highly as the icecreams at Mecca Bah in Brisbane!  (try the apple, or the date).

Overall this was a great first night in Hobart.  To be honest though, in the major centres in Tasmania it seems it is hard to go more than a few blocks without tripping over another great restaurant.

Piccolo Restaurant and Wine Bar
323a Elizabeth St
North Hobart
Ph: 03 6234 4844

May 212011

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Our first full day in Launceston we enjoyed a great meal at Mud Bar and Restaurant.  The restaurant is located down by the water and from the walkway out the front there is a fantastic view of the city perched on several large hills.

Lunch was confit chicken with wild rice, orange, prosciutto and candied walnut salad, and a serve of beef and pork meatballs, served with an rich tomato sauce.  The lunchtime prices were very reasonable for the portion sizes and restaurant seemed to be a good size and had a nice atmosphere.  If you’re in Launceston I recommend checking it out.

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Mud Bar and Restaurant
28 Seaport Boulevard
Launceston, Tas
Ph:  03 6334 5066
Web:  www.mudbar.com.au