Sam’s triumphant return to the Tamar, at Iron Pot Bay’s cellar door

We’re loyal to good chefs in the West Tamar, to the point where we track them down if they move.

A case in point is Sam Adamson, who ran Ilk on Rosevears Drive for what seemed like the blink of an eye but was certainly too short a time.

Imagine our delight when we heard she has popped up again at Iron Pot Bay’s vineyard Cellar Door. Our delight and that of many others, it seems, because word has spread like wildfire and customers are flocking to the place, on word of mouth alone.

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Iron Pot’s new owner Julieanne has renovated the century old cottage on the property, adding a cellar door area and commercial kitchen. Diners are hosted in a series of lovely little original rooms complete with fireplaces, views over the gardens and lashings of period charm.

Time’s been hard for my husband and me recently. We seem rarely speak to each other of much apart from the micro businesses we run, which feels like raising extra children. It’s rare breed pigs, bacon production, building regulations and B2B clients requiring editorial services all the way.

We felt like we needed a nice lunch, so we could at least bore the pants off each other over a plate of good tucker and a glass of Pinot.

Iron Pot is down at the end of Rowella Road in a part of the Tamar we don’t know well. It’s like a little enclave down there, and evidently lots of other people do know it well, as the car park was full – on a Thursday lunchtime.

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Sam’s on her own in the kitchen and the place was humming quietly. We hadn’t been there too long when a long plate with four delectable little treats on it came out compliments of the chef – with apologies for the wait! A tiny toast with some ripe tomatoes and balsamic, and a little pie shell with a pumpkin puree, caramelised beetroot and a sour cream sauce. A few very satisfying and flavoursome mouthfuls to keep us and our palates busy while we waited for the main game. What a civilized way to start.

Despite a fulsome menu replete with choice, we both opted for the same main: slow cooked Moroccan lamb pie with crispy filo pastry, couscous and chickpea salad, sumac yoghurt and a rocket and dukkha salad.

It was cute as a button when it arrived. Evidently Sam is an accomplished origami master as well as a chef if that filo can be gone by. And what flavours there were, each component on the plate distinct and prettily presented.

It seemed what was on the menu and what was on the plate had parted ways slightly, but nobody was complaining. The chickpea and couscous salad was topped with rocket. I don’t know how to describe this kind of couscous other than to say it’s bigger balls than the normal sort and has a better bite. This is the second time I’ve met it and it makes for a great dish. Green beans in a mildly spiced paste were a lovely surprise, with a tiny sesame crunch, or perhaps those fell off my filo pie. Who knows, I was in a muddle of happy eating fairly early on.

The lamb pie was the prizewinner on the plate. Pull-apart tender shreds of lamb, delicately infused with Moroccan flavours, with a creamy top layer and the occasional tomatoey morsel. Filo is such a wonderful parcel material – not too heavy, but adding a pleasingly crisp and light carbo crunch.

Sam’s sister is my next door neighbour (this is Tasmania) and I’ve eaten a lentil salad by Sam over at theirs before and got the recipe, it was that good. I’ll be attempting this lamb pie at home as well, bet your shanks on it.

You can’t go out to eat without pudding, Paleo would be against our religion. As we get older and middle aged spread becomes a reality rather than a myth, however, we share one plate. Ours was a good choice, then, because the Belgian Chocolate Mousse Cake was veritably the size of a brick when it arrived – albeit a small and handsome wedge-shaped one.

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Luckily that’s where the similarities ended!  Top layers of mousse dusted with cacao squished  down into firmer spongy layers like so many chocolatey pillows of pleasure when cut into with a dessert fork, and shovelled into our eager mouths.

Out in the foyer we got acquainted with Julieanne and had a floury hug with Sam. Business owners all, we exchanged cards and compliments and agreed to send our visitors each other’s way.

It’s a treat to have Sam back at work in the valley again where she’s putting six days a week into making the Tamar a diner’s destination of choice. We’ll certainly be adding Iron Pot to our manual of delights available to guests at our AirBnB farmstay. And popping back for lunch ourselves on those days when we want to bore the pants off each other over something delicious, in delightful surroundings.

Iron Pot Bay’s cellar door restaurant is open seven days a week for lunch. Hint: Sam has Wednesdays off and leaves the staff with sandwiches to toast for diners. They would be magnificent sandwiches, but if you want the full monte menu, go other days. The menu will change seasonally.

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