TimmyC and I have been dating for over a decade now so it takes more than the usual to surprise me (although I am astounded when he washes the dishes), so when he said he heard about an amazing restaurant in NSW do I want to hear about it or should he surprise me, I told him to surprise me (although if it was in Canberra I would have wanted to know about it ASAP!).
While we were out having dinner one night I hear him say over the phone ‘oh yes we will be arriving by car’, ‘who was that?’ I asked ‘and how else would you arrive somewhere, by horse back?’ I said smugly, Tim smirked and replied ‘that was the mystery restaurant calling and you can only get there by ferry, boat or seaplane’. Hmmm, now you have me very intrigued.
The day of our booking arrived and down a steep windy road we went. I peered over the railing, there was so much thick bush down there that if we weren’t dating for that long I would think that this was where he was going to kill me and ditch my body in the shrubs (yes I have a wild imagination). The lower we went, a view of a beautiful body of water emerged filled with lots of keen fishing hobbyists and boats, but I still had no idea where we were headed.
Signs for the restaurant’s private ferry.A view of the Hawkesbury river from the carpark.We arrived at the private pier and the restaurant’s ‘ferry’ took us across the water and towards the Berowra Waters Inn. The whole journey on the boat wouldn’t have taken long (4 minutes one way, we timed him during out meal) but we had to wait for the seaplane to depart before we docked, as you do.
Waiting for the sea plane to depart.Approaching the dock.We are greeted with a friendly smile and shown to a table that faces the direction of the water and we sit side by side. For a food blogger, the lighting is perfect; natural sunlight streaming though, wide open spaces and beautiful white linen providing the perfect back drop.
We are left alone with the menu for a few minutes. It is $175 pp for the 7 course degustation and $250 pp with matching wines but because we both don’t drink wine, the decision was easy. I quickly check if any of the unfamiliar words equals offal (I’ve been burned before) but none of them were so we were good to go.
The seven course degustation menu.
Rock oyster wrapped in jelly, apple couscous with a daikon crisp. The amuse bouche intrigues me and I fall in love with the bowl instantly. When I peered inside the bowl, nothing looked like an oyster and I start to doubt if the waiter even mentioned oyster. I pop the black thing in my mouth and sure enough, it was an oyster wrapped in a thin layer of jelly, the flavour is intense and satisfying. Whatever that white foamy light liquid was on the bottom, I wanted more of it.
The couscous was incredibly crispy and granular, I really liked the texture.A close up of the sundried tomato butter with black olive.A selection of complimentary house made fresh warm bread – walnut bread, olive bread and sour dough. I was surprised when Tim chose the olive bread, he never has been fond of olives but I guess since there was black olive crumble on top of the butter, there was no way to escape it. The other breads were nice but didn’t compare to the very popular sour dough. The butter wasn’t intensely ‘tomato-y’ but provided enough salt to be addictive. The texture of the butter was so airy and light, it was as easy as to spread as cream cheese and despite the black olive being everywhere, the flavour wasn’t dominating.Most people are dining as couples, but there was a group of flamboyant gay friends who provided very entertaining foresight into the next dish as they were a course a head of us. The atmosphere is pretty casual with most people wearing trendy clothes bordering on smart casual.
Hamachi, squid and cucumber. The broth was poured at our table side. I had lot expectations that the mini roll was going to be rubbery, dry and hard to cut through but I was pleasantly surprised that it was very delicate and held intense flavours of seafood. What seemed to be avocado powder just disintegrates in your mouth leaving nothing but a flavour. I was a bit disappointed that my spoon couldn’t get every last drop, I contemplated licking the bowl, but then I thought to myself that there was still 6 courses to go.
Ocean trout, smoked milk and dashi. I have tasted many foams in my time (wow, how pompous does that sound!?) but nothing compares to the intense citrus flavours that were hidden amongst the bubbles. I effortlessly cut through the confit of trout and when it melted on my tongue, I turned to TimmyC with the biggest grin on my face. ‘That is sooo good’ is all I can manage to say.How do they get so much flavour in there?A close up of the melt in your mouth ocean trout.There is a constant change of cutlery between every second course.
Carrot and liquorice. I know a lot more people who dislike licorice than people who like it, so I thought this dish was a very bold choice from the chef. The taste of licorice isn’t overwhelming but it is definitely there. TimmyC isn’t fond of licorice but even he still managed to eat most of his plate. This dish was probably the most visually appealing out of all the dishes and the odd combination of flavours actually works, I particularly liked the crisp fried carrot top. There was a large variety of textures on the plate ranging from al dente carrots to soft puree and to the other extreme of granular licorice soil.
Chicken, soubise and macadamia. At a restaurant I never order chicken as a main, it easily disappoints and can be made dry and tasteless with little effort, but this, this was something else! It was super moist and this ended up being TimmyC’s favourite dish of the day. I fell in love with the flavours of the chicken and soubise. Wow it was so good!When something tastes so good, I hate it when the portions are so small, but I guess that leaves more room for variety. I can’t wait to taste the next course.
Short rib, anchovy and cracked wheat. The beef rib was so tender, I’m pretty sure if I sneezed on it, it would have broken into pieces on my plate. It had a cake of intense salt from the anchovy on top but it went very well together and each bite was perfection. For me, this was my favourite dish (although it was a very hard choice).
Goat cheese, honey, hazelnut and corella pear. This course reminded me of breakfast and it was what eased us from savoury to sweet in a slow transition. I thought the hazelnut sauce was too much and steered clear of it but for someone who doesn’t like goat’s cheese, I ate a lot of it. It didn’t have that gritty ‘dirty’ after taste that most goat cheeses have.
Lime custard and passionfruit mousse. We were really surprised by the serving size, the glass was a bit bigger than a normal shot glass. This could have been the actual dessert based on fine dining sizing! The two flavours are both intense but work well together. The refreshing fruit flavours make it a fabulous palette cleanser.
Tropicana No2. Coconut mango mousse, coriander popcorn, mango sorbet, a sphere of lemongrass jelly, coconut cream bottom, yoghurt bavarois covered in a mango gel. The mango sorbet is the most intense flavour of the dish and I thought with all the different elements on the plate made it a bit ‘busy’. I was really disappointed to not really taste much coriander in the so-called ‘coriander popcorn’ but I love how the colours of Summer really ‘popped’ against the beautiful colour of the plate.
The ferry awaits to take us back to reality.The lunch goes for 4 hours but you’re made to forget the chaotic world and take time to breathe in the fresh air, admire the serene surroundings and enjoy some really fantastic food.
I’ve eaten at many places up and down the east coast of Australia and some fabulous places overseas, but I can say hands down this was the best meal I have ever eaten and I don’t say that lightly. I was seriously considering have my wedding reception here but they only sit 60 to 80 people and the venue wouldn’t be big enough *sigh*. I gotta start working on culling my list!
Venue: Berowra Waters Inn
Address: Public Wharves, Berowra Waters, NSW
Phone: (02) 9456 1027