There are great places to eat and drink in the Tamar Valley - if you know where to look.
Below are the places we like to go, ranging from fine dining to something simpler but scrumptious. The Tamar Valley 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, we've played favourites.
Definitely book ahead, it's popular and rightly so. Owner Matt Adams is the former head chef of Josef Chromy's restaurant. His 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. Our top pick, by a country mile.
Find Timbre at Velo Winery, about twenty minutes south down the Tamar valley. Check opening hours, and book ahead.
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. This is the Moroccan lamb pie in filo pastry. OMG. So good we tried to replicate it at home. Be sure to do a tasting of the vineyard's 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 us 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. Top notch pub food, with different menus at lunch and dinner time. Ask for a window table for river views, and there's an art gallery up the back. You'll come away gladdened and sated. 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.
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. Good spot for morning or afternoon tea, or a light lunch. Think pasties and quiches, and great coffee. The cafe is dog friendly too.
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
Comparative new kid on the block, but owner Jeremy Kode has wasted no time in making his mark on the dining scene of Launceston with this uber-stylish bar and restaurant. An outstanding menu featuring local produce and un-surpassed 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 thrilled. See our blog post about Geronimo for further reading.