A Tassie Break Part 1 – Stanley

J and I recently had nine nights in Tassie, taking in Stanley, Strahan and Cradle Mountain (plus a couple of nights at Mum and Dad’s).

 

We flew into Launceston on a Friday night and stayed with Mum and Dad, and Mum cooked us a roast for dinner.

 

The next morning, we packed up the car (Mum and Dad’s new Elantra!) and headed west.

 

Our first brief stop was at Wynyard, where we had a view of Table Cape.

It was then onto Stanley.

 

Stanley is located on a peninsula on the North West coast of Tasmania, and sits at the base of The Nut, a 150 metre high rock formation, which was the plug of an extinct volcano.

 

This is the first view you get of The Nut and Stanley as you drive down the peninsula.

We were staying at @VDL Stanley, and in the booking email there was instructions to go to The Brown Dog store on Church Street to get the key. The woman in the store had no idea what I was talking about, and said she was just minding the store for a friend. She did not offer to ring the friend or anything, just brushed me off. I rang the number on the booking and was told an envelope had been left on the front door of @VDL with my name on it. The envelope contained the key and welcome letter. All good, but communication could be better.

 

We drove down to @VDL and parked and found said envelope. We were in the king loft suite. There are only three suites and the front door opens into a communal living area and our suite opened off this room, and the other two were accessed up a set of stairs. The building was built in 1843 and was the VDL Company Store. The original bluestone facade remains.

The steps at the front lead into the communal area. The windows on the end at the right had double doors at the bottom and led into our living area and kitchen.  Apart from when we first got there and when we left, we used this entrance as it was more convenient. These tall windows, plus the ones at the front of the building, had electronic blinds, controlled by remote controls.

 

This is the communal living area, taken from the entrance to our suite.

From the other way, looking at the doorway.

The door to our suite opened onto the bedroom.

This is looking back towards the door, the door on the right is the bathroom.

Treats were left on the bedside table (and replenished the next day).

The bathroom. Not a lot of space around the sink for toiletries but a lovely bathroom none the less. I loved that there were separate lights for the shower, toilet and sink/bath area.

The view out the bathroom window.

Downstairs was the kitchen and lounge area. The kitchen was decently stocked with implements, enough to cook a simple meal.

This was our second stay at @VDL. It has been renovated since our first visit and I still love it. Last time we were in Stanley it was two days before Christmas and the weather was awful. We had better weather this trip, in winter, than we did in summer!

 

Just across the road was a place to buy seafood.

and that was attached to a take-away and cafe.

Stanley is small and it is easy to walk everywhere. We walked along the main street and had a look in a couple of galleries and in Providore 24, a lovely store that sold lots of gourmet goodies as well as home-made bread. We could also see the walking track up to the top of The Nut.

Dinner that evening was at the Stanley Hotel. For Masterchef fans, an episode from the 2012 season was shot here. Two of the guys (Andy and Jay?) cooked off in the kitchen and tractor loads of produce were brought down the main street. That is not the reason we ate there. We had dinner there on our previous visit and J fondly remembers an extremely good half crayfish at an exceptionally good price and was keen to revisit this experience. I do like the fact that the hotel does not advertise the fact that MC was filmed there. There is one photo on their website and nothing (that I saw) in the hotel itself.

 

We had a quick drink in the bar and then went through to the bistro. During our two nights in Stanley we noticed how quiet the town was. There were times when we were the only ones on the main street! However, we found where everyone was, in the bistro!

 

We were seated down one side of the room, which I will say was simply decorated in a typical country pub style. Food orders are taken by waitresses and you get your own drinks at the bar.

We had a bottle of Tassie sparkling.

I often say that the sparkling coming out of Tasmania is the best in Australia and the Kreglinger is no exception. If I can’t have French bubbles, then Tassie bubbles are my second choice!

 

The menu wasn’t extensive but we still struggled to make a decision out of some fine sounding dishes.

 

For dinner, J had the fillet of ocean trout (grilled fillet of ocean trout from the West Coast of Tasmania with lemon butter sauce on a minted pea puree and vegetables). He would have loved to repeat his crayfish experience from last time but they were out of season.

A simple dish but he loved it and says it was one of the best fish dishes he had on this trip.

 

I had the scotch fillet (Greenham’s Cape Grim grass feed beef from the North West coast) with chips and salad.

There was a choice of sauces for the steak and I give points for that fact they were offered at no extra cost, and that I was asked whether I wanted my peppercorn sauce on the steak or in a jug.

 

The steak was perfectly cooked, a little fatty but you get that with scotch.

 

We decided to give desserts a try. J had the Pavlova.

Sadly store bought and not enough cream, he ended up stealing cream of my plate.

 

I had one of the dessert specials, the Baileys chocolate cheesecake.

It was nice but had the mildest of tastes. I would have liked a stronger flavour from either the Baileys or the chocolate.

 

Service was friendly and the mains good, but desserts need a little more effort.
Stanley Hotel Bistro on Urbanspoon

 

The next morning we made toast for breakfast and then prepared ourselves to walk up The Nut. We walked along the streets and up into the car park, where there is a small shop as well. We realised we had gone the long way. You can access the car park off Church Street if you are on foot. This is the view from the car park.

There is a chairlift to the top but it closes over winter. The day before was its last day before hibernation. We found a lot of places close over winter in the smaller towns so if there is something you really want to do (for example, I really would have liked to go to Dismal Swamp) check the opening times. While it was easy to get into restaurants etc as it was so quiet there were some drawbacks.

 

The walk seems short at 450m, but when they say steep, they mean it.

Looking back down at the first leg.

Once on top there is a track that takes you around the edge of The Nut. One side is a small forest, which was filled with pademelons.

This is the view down one side towards the wharfs.

Looking back towards Wynyard and Table Cape.

This phone booth may look out of place but if you are not with Telstra you might struggle to get reception in Tassie outside of the major cities. You might need to go old school.

After our walk we purchased bread from Providore 24 and along with other goodies we had either picked up along the way or ‘borrowed’ from Mum and Dad’s pantry and kitchen we made our own version of a ploughman’s lunch.

And it was damn tasty! J had also got a dozen oysters from the seafood place across the road, but they, like crayfish, were out of season so didn’t taste that great. We spent a fair bit of the afternoon reading and lazing around our suite and then headed out late afternoon to get some more photos of The Nut and also have a look at Highfield House, an historic house and estate. However, the house and grounds were closed. I can’t find any information on opening hours but presume it was something else that was also closed for winter.

 

We did get a good, and different, view of The Nut though.

We then headed to the pub and had a few bevvies and played some pool.

Dinner on our second, and last, night in Stanley was at Xanders, a fine dining establishment a few doors down from the pub.

 

These little guys guard the front door.

The entrance is to the right through a small front yard. The blackboard in the above photo is the specials board and the regular menu is above.

 

The restaurant is one long room and there is also seating outside for warmer weather. I suspect there would be a good view as well, but it was too dark by the time we arrived.

With a long specials board (also presented to us on a tablet) plus a decent regular menu there were hard decisions to make. Made slightly easier by the fact that one of the specials we were both eying off, the sliders, had sold out.

 

J ended up with Xanders’ version of the prawn cocktail.

It is described on the menu as ‘Unlike anything you have ever seen before’, and that was certainly the case, but J absolutely loved it.

 

I had the caramelised onion, tomato and goat’s cheese tart with a rocket and oven-roasted tomato salad.

That pastry was perfection and the whole dish was wonderful.

 

For main course, we both had a dish off the specials board, the slow braised lamb breast rogan josh with saffron rice and a ribboned cucumber, roast tomato, onion and coconut salad with a mango chutney mayonnaise.

 

Before this dish arrived on the table we were wondering whether it would be one piece of meat or cut into chunks like a normal curry.

 

This is what we saw once the tagine lid was lifted (yes, an Indian curry was served in a tagine, we found it odd).

One very large hunk of lamb breast. It was tender and there was no need for a knife and the flavours were acceptable. But this serve was too large for either of us. I would suggest jacking the price up and making it a dish for two. If we had been told how large it was we would have shared one serve, or ordered something else.

 

Despite not being able to finish main course, we had to have a look at the dessert menu. It was a good list with some tempting choices.

 

J didn’t want anything too extravagant so stuck with a classic, the banana sundae.

The first item on the dessert menu was listed as something along the lines of ‘dessert decadence, not good for your hips, we will explain it to you’. Good marketing, as I was intrigued and asked about it. I was told it was a mud cake base with vanilla ice cream and raspberries. Sounds good, let’s do it!

One of the best desserts ever. The elements were all quite simple but well executed to create a sensational looking, and tasting, dessert. I don’t think the cream on the side was necessary, and it did beat me, I couldn’t finish it, despite really wanting to.

 

The waitresses were friendly but it was hard to get their attention. We were also served by a gentleman who I presume is the owner. He was a tad over familiar but I guess when you know most of the people in your restaurant this is how you are. A lot of tables around us knew each other and there was lots of stopping to chat and calling out to friends. Love a small town!
Xanders on Urbanspoon

 

While very different atmospheres, decors and food, we enjoyed both our dinners in Stanley and would recommend both the pub and Xanders.

 

We did a wander through town a bit later on so J could take some night photos and it was a bit eerie as the only living things we saw was one cat and a lot of pademelons, no people!

 

We both really liked Stanley, it is a great little town, and wouldn’t hesitate to go back.

 

We packed up the car the next morning and headed for our next destination, Strahan.

One Response to “A Tassie Break Part 1 – Stanley”

  1. What an excellent holiday recollection blog. Great pictures and a whole lot of food, experiences and stay memories.
    Very enjoyable.

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