There are great places to eat and drink in the Tamar Valley – if you know where to look. In a recent feature article in a national newspaper, a prominent chef shared his pick of the Tamar – including places on the central north coast. Bizarre.
Below are the places we like to go, and the ones we recommend to guests we have staying with us here at Langdale Farm. These places are definitely here in the valley – ranging from fine dining to simple but scrumptious, and quick bites. The Tamar is semi-rural, and we recommend you plan ahead, check opening hours, and make bookings to avoid disappointment, especially for dinner. The following spots are our favourites, in strict order of preference. Yes, I’ve played favourites.
Our top pick, by a country mile. Definitely book ahead, it’s popular and rightly so. Owner Matt Adams is the former head chef of Josef Chromy’s restaurant. His own restaurant Timbre is fine dining, with an ever changing menu of seasonal foods. Matt sources and buys ingredients locally, sometimes from backyard growers. There’s a brick oven, a fire pit out front, and it’s all very unpredictable, in the best possible way. Inventive, creative, delicious food that will just occasionally blow your socks off. Great wines from Velo to wash it all down with. Find Timbre at Velo Winery, about twenty minutes south down the Tamar valley. Check opening hours, and book ahead. Die regretting it if you don’t.
Iron Pot Bay Vineyard
Chef Sam Adamson is a local treasure and a genius at combining flavours. She and vineyard owner Julieanne offer a small but delicious menu, and it’s one of the best spots for lunch in the valley. The Moroccan lamb pie in filo pastry is the stuff of local legend, and so good we tried to replicate it at home. Be sure to do a tasting of the vineyard’s wines, all made by master winemaker Jeremy Dineen of Josef Chromy Wines. We like the sparkling. You’ll find Iron Pot Bay at Rowella, about 25 minutes north in pretty landscapes near the upper reaches of the river.
On the face of it, a modest cafe. But in-house chefs and an owner committed to using local produce make for a better class of laid back lunch. Everything’s made in house, from the cakes to the dukkha which makes for inventive dishes and everything from seafood platters to great salads. There are regional Tamar Valley wines to choose from too. Dog friendly on the deck and recommended for a long, lazy lunch overlooking the water. About 20 minutes north of Langdale Farm on the waterfront at Beauty Point.
Tamar Valley Wine Centre
This place opened at Christmas 2018 but the owner Adrian is a long-time local. He’s lived here for donkey’s years and he knows what the Tamar needed. And that’s a wine bar with a relaxed feel and great food. The place stocks wine from every one of the vineyards around the Tamar and some beyond. And the menu offers simple lunches for an agreeable price tag, and fancier fare for the evening. The platters are great, feature local produce, and every so often you’ll come across a tiny treasure – like the chef’s own pickled grapes. We don’t get out much but we’ve been there at least a half dozen times since this opened. Who knew we were that sociable?
Our local waterfront tavern with regional beers and wines, open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner. On a good day, it’s top notch pub food, with different menus at lunch and dinner time. On a bad day, they’ve changed chefs, the meals all come on different plates, tiles and boards, and your child will eat pasta sauce that taste like something from a tin. It’s Russian Roulette but if you don’t mind taking a chance, it could pay off. We’ve eaten really well here. The platters have been great, and the pork belly sumptuous. Ask for a window table for river views, and there’s an art gallery up the back. Twenty minutes drive away heading south at Rosevears.
Elmslie is in a lovely old homestead up on a rise overlooking the river. It’s an elegant position and they do elegant weddings – that gives you some idea of the style of the place. There’s a simple but nice menu for lunches, and they do scrumptious teas and desserts. Very nice tucker. Open for lunch and teas but not dinner, and about 20 minutes south down the Tamar highway at Legana. Be sure to check in for a wine tasting and a yarn or two from David at Beautiful Isle Wines – the cute and tiny cellar door in a chapel is to the right of Elmslie’s front door.
Riley’s on the River
At Paper Beach, fifteen minutes from us down on the river at Paper Beach, a popular local walking spot, dog friendly. It’s a tiny but cosy spot for morning or afternoon tea, or a light lunch. Think pasties and quiches, and great coffee. The cafe is dog friendly too with water bowls and dog treats.
Well worth the trip into town, this is one of Launceston’s landmark restaurants and winner of a major Renault fine dining prize the year after it opened in 2000. We had oyster shots there a few years back and we’re still talking about them. Chef and co-owner Craig Will is talented and trophied, sommelier James Welsh has won the Gourmet Traveller best wine list of Tasmania for three years in a row for Stillwater and showcases the best of the Tamar Valley and Tasmania’s wines. Our pork was cooked for a private function there and was to-die-for. These people are the best. Highly recommended.
Geronimo Aperitivo Bar & Restaurant
Owner Jeremy Kode wasted no time in making his mark on the dining scene of Launceston with this uber-stylish bar and restaurant when he returned from an international career in hospitality a few years back. An outstanding menu featuring local produce and unsurpassed bar serving cocktails and all manner of wines and spirits of premium quality, from the region and further afield. This is the place that brought share plates to little ol’ Lonnie, and we’re still thrilling now. See our blog post about Geronimo for further reading.