Fresh on Charles has been serving up vegetarian fare to Launceston locals since 1999! It is described as a ‘retro vegetarian café, venue and accommodation’. On our recent trip to Tasmania, we dropped in on a Friday afternoon for some lunch. Before even sitting down to order, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the size of the venue. There’s two large dining areas inside the restaurant, as well as tables outside. There is also a back bar and event space. The décor is ultra-hip without being over the top or pretentious. Think retro lounge settees, kitsch Mexican features, and old-school action figurines.
This place is buzzing with customers, and attracts a real diverse clientele. According to the owner, the number of non-vegetarians/vegans dining there is about 80% of the total.
The menu is extensive, but unfortunately for me, most of the dishes are vegetarian, not vegan. There are two marked vegan options on the breakfast menu and two marked vegan options on the lunch/dinner menu. My eyes move straight to the shared vegan mixed plate, it looks amazing! It consists of lentil burger with satay sauce, cous cous with ratatouille, raw pad thai, roast vegetable salad with beetroot relish, 2 potsticker dumplings, hummus and harissa, served with fresh flat bread. I’m sold. It’s not offered as a single dish though, so I need to get Travis on board as well. He’s keen, as long as we can get it without onion. We’re informed that most of the included dishes come with onion in them. In an instant my hopes are crushed. I instead go with the sweet potato and zucchini hash browns with scrambled tofu.
For $20 I admit I found the serving size rather small. (This was our first meal in Tasmania, but I soon found out that meals are surprisingly more expensive than what you would expect to pay in Sydney.) The food was carefully prepared and considered, but I felt like I had not made the best choice from the menu. I couldn’t help but get food envy as I saw one of the tasting plates go out to a nearby table. I vowed that next time I visited Fresh, I would either take on the plate for two by myself, or go with someone who wasn’t onion intolerant (sorry T).
Overall this place has an amazing vibe and great service. As the owner describes it, Fresh is not just a restaurant, but more of a community hub. Fresh runs regular events, including workshops, live music, and comedy nights. They also have boutique accommodation available, with fully equipped serviced apartments upstairs. So whether you’re looking for food, entertainment, or accommodation in Launceston, check out Fresh on Charles!
Fresh on Charles 178 Charles Street, Launceston www.freshoncharles.com.au