Monday, 19 November 2012


Went to another of those absolutely wonderful little hidden treasures in Tasmania on Friday.

We spent four days at Swansea, which, by the way, is preparing for a bumper tourist season with a good start. Some new eating businesses and some old ones with new owners make for an exciting summer up the coast – making Swansea an excellent watering hole for us eaters! Felicity’s, just along from Banc towards the water, is highly recommended for both its vintage wares and food. Browse and eat – what more could you want? Banc has a new owner, and a newly installed wood fired pizza oven. Where Ci Simon was is now a gallery/café, and the former Trellis is now Onyx Providore. The former Ebb is about to commence trading mid-December with two partners from Launceston who already operate a restaurant there. They are expanding to Swansea, and it looks promising. Best spot in town for a restaurant, I reckon.

Anyway, all that aside, I had heard snippets about Tombolo at Coles Bay, but it was uncharted waters as far as I was concerned, and I instinctively knew it had all the earmarks of a great place, given that one of the people involved in it is Shannon, who previously worked front of house at Saffire, and in fact looked after us extremely well when Rita and friends dined there after they first opened.

Shannon was serving morning teas at Tombolo when we arrived in Coles Bay, and we popped in to make a reservation for lunch and check out the menu (in order to salivate for a while!). They start lunches at 12.00, so this gave us time to walk the dog, and ourselves, along the beach.

I was surprised at how busy they were, for such a small establishment, during the period we were there. Lots of tourists, as well as locals popping in for a coffee, or a meal, and I now understand exactly why!

The food was absolutely superb. I could not fault a thing, and nor could Bec. The menu is simple and straightforward. Only about six or seven items on it, and catering for those with a vegetarian desire as well. For such a small space, this is obviously the most sensible and practical way to go when you have a café like that, but I have seen many places of similar size trying to cram appetizers, entrees, mains and desserts onto a menu which must be a nightmare for poor old chef in the kitchen trying to order, prep and cook for such a large variety of food.

Bec selected a steak sandwich with chips – which may well sound mundane to you, good reader, but the difference between this model and others was a world away! For a start it was contained in a lovely crusty white bread roll. The steak contained therein was fillet steak, thus making it the most tender (ergo chewable!) steak sanger ever. It was topped with caramelized onion, a fried egg, tomato, cheese and lettuce. All were top notch ingredients, and not the usual shitty pap which cafes usually fob you off with when you order something like that. From memory it was $14, with the chips, and Bec declared it the best steak sandwich she had ever eaten (mind you, anyone would triumph when she mostly devours Mykonos steak sangers!!). I had a bite and totally agreed with her anyway.

I was torn between a few great sounding menu items but ended up, strangely, deciding on the Beef Curry. I use the word ‘strangely’ because I assumed that at one of Tasmania’s top coastal towns I would elect to eat some form of fish, but in this instance didn’t. It was superb. Mild enough for anyone’s palate (but not too mild): the meat slow cooked so not at all chewy, the sauce a beautiful foil for the rice and poppodums. At $18, the amount on the plate was enough for anyone to feel they were getting value for money, but not too much that you didn’t feel like going off to do some afternoon rambling along a beach, or to Freycinet’s Wineglass Bay.

We drove back to Swansea with a few stopovers en route: firstly at Freycinet Oyster Farm to buy fresh scallops ($11 per 250 gms) and a freshly caught and cooked crayfish at $68! Then at Gala Vineyard for a tasting, leaving with a Reisling and Pinot, then another stop at Milton Vineyard for another tasting, and an Iced Reisling and Pinot! The two women doing the tastings at both vineyards were delightful, mega-friendly and sold their product knowledgeably and well. None of that superior attitude I have observed at some vineyards whilst the tastings are conducted.

We were delighted that on that very day last Friday, the Tasmanian Government had finally declared the fish from the area (after much testing) able to be eaten again following the recall a few weeks ago of all the local products (notably Spring Bay Mussels) from the waters in that area.

On Saturday we whizzed up to Bicheno to check out the Wine and Food Festival – a mini version of Taste of Tasmania. It was great if you like that sort of thing, but I’m sure my regular readers are aware of my dislike of events like this, so I sat peacefully, on my own, in the shade with the dog, reading and enjoying the spectacle of others so happily engaged in eating, drinking and listening to live music. There is a place for all of us in this world, luckily!

Tombolo Cafe
6 Garnet Avenue
Coles Bay
Ph 6257 0124
Posted on by Rita


Anonymous said...

Glad you can recommend this place Rita. Very happy that no-one has complained that you are being unfair to the other cafes in Coles bay as well

Anonymous said...

Hi Rita,

I passed through Coles Bay the other day. I was driving a tour group around he state and I only had a few minutes to find lunch for myself. Anyway, I was lucky enough to find Trombolo, and funnily enough, I also had the steak sandwich. I have to say it was the second best steak sandwich I have ever had, but since Knopwoods hasn't made their "eye fillet burger" for years, I guess it will have to do. It was a great surprise to find a properly good coffee in a place like Coles Bay though.