Discover an under-the-radar dining destination that stands out among the stellar line-up of Launceston restaurants and Tamar Valley wineries thanks to its seriously good food.
It’s no secret that Launceston sits in a chunk of superb wine country; the pinot noirs and chardonnays produced in the Tamar Valley region are exceptional, and the cool climate sparklings rival almost anything that has French on the label. But there’s one winery that stands out – not simply because of its wines (they’re certainly worth stowing in your hand luggage too) but because of its food.
Vélo Wines is a 15-minute drive out of town on the West Tamar Highway and it shares its space with one of Launceston’s best-kept food-o-phile secrets: Timbre Kitchen. The two businesses are entirely separate but worth visiting in tandem. Pop into the cellar door for a tasting of Velo’s sparkling rosé, chardonnay and pinot noir then step sideways onto the pale timber flooring that’s complimented by abstract perspex artwork by local printmaker Lex Palmer Bull, for one of the most interesting, and charmingly cosy share meals you’ll find anywhere.
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Dinner is the optimum time to try the restaurant’s $55 or $75 banquet menus, which are driven by whatever’s burst into season in the neighbours’ backyards that week. You read that right. “When we opened in 2016, I put something up on Facebook asking people to bring in whatever they have, and we’d give them a food voucher,” explains owner and head chef Matt Adams. “But these days I don’t really have to post about it; we’ve cemented ourselves enough in the community that people just bring things in.”
A typical haul might be corn, tomatoes or zucchinis in summer, or apples, quinces and Jerusalem artichokes coming into autumn. Matt and his team touch almost everything they make with smoke and fire, turning their bounty into dishes that have a sense of retro comfort about them, like something your grandma used to make (if you were lucky enough to have a grandma who had a deft hand with seasoning and a knack with a wood-fired oven). One night it could be lamb neck in a dark and sultry curry sauce, another might feature diced calamari on a bed of Mexican-style salsa macha and cucumber. There are also regular collaborations with chefs and winemakers from the region and interstate.
The menus change weekly and the décor’s always being tweaked and updated – Matt’s in the process of bringing in more weathered wooden picnic-style tables to accommodate larger groups. But one thing never changes: communality and community always sit at Timbre’s heart.