Wild duck – new menu

The good thing about a new menu is tasting new and delicious things, but the bad thing about a new menu is if you were looking forward to a particular dish, like the amazing short soup with a light clear broth for example, it might not be there any more (and it wasn’t ).

Choosing the dishes from Wild Duck‘s new menu was hard. We started off looking at the banquets, then looked at a la carte and then after seeing that most of the entrees come in serves of three, we went back to looking at banquets. I browsed the mains and the one I would like most were all clustered around was the ‘food travelers banquet’ for $59 a head. I couldn’t help myself but to also ask for a serve of Balmain bug dumplings (I asked for a serve of 4) and the essential mantou bread.

There were elements that were familiar to me- the pork and lotus root parcel, lemongrass chicken and the honey mustard fillet steak and as well made as they were, I was very much looking forward to the ones I hadn’t tried.

‘FOOD TRAVELERS’ BANQUET $59.00 per person

For 4 people or more, a great way to taste provincial street food from across Asia without ever getting on or off a plane!




Steamed delicate dumplings filled with Balmain Bug meat and bamboo shoots, served with a ginger rice vinegar (4 pieces $21. ish dollars). The Balmain bug dumplings were nice enough, expensive though. For a serve of four it was the equivalent of $5 something a dumpling. I couldn’t taste much of a difference between this Balmain bug filling and prawns. It was like a generous har gow filling inside a wonton wrapper that dried out a bit around the edges.20140708-222204-80524181.jpgTaking a look at the generous portion of filling inside each dumpling.20140708-222206-80526055.jpgRoast duck rice paper rolls Chinese roast duck, cucumber, spring onion in Vietnamese style rice paper roll served with Hoi Sin sauce. I didn’t think I would like this because of how thick the cut of duck meat was but it was surprisingly really nice and moist, while the skin had a lot of roast duck flavour.20140708-222200-80520816.jpg

20140708-222202-80522395.jpgLotus root and pork parcels sliced young lotus root with lean pork mince in between, crispy fried in a light tempura batter with a vinegar ginger dipping sauce and Edamame. Upon reading this description did I notice that we didn’t get any vinegar ginger dipping sauce and Edamame. This was really crispy and not oily at all. Hard to describe the taste but everyone really enjoyed it.20140708-222411-80651544.jpgXin Jiang lamb skewers Famous street food from China, tender lamb skewers char-grilled with a sprinkle of cumin, chilli and Asian spices, served with a crunchy cucumber, onion and capsicum salsa and honey yoghurt. There was a bit of spice on the coating of the lamb which was really nice but the chilli surprise could be balanced out by the honey yoghurt as well as the salsa if you don’t like hot food. The meat was also incredibly tender, but I wouldn’t have picked this as a ‘Chinese’ dish.20140708-222339-80619477.jpgThe lamb skewer condiments, honey yoghurt and a salsa.20140708-222341-80621056.jpgHoney mustard fillet steak diced beef eye fillet stir-fried in mild chilli, honey and mustard sauce, with sugar snap peas, King Brown mushrooms, Gingko nuts and red onion. Tender as always although I think I would have preferred a black pepper sauce than the sweeter taste of honey mustard.20140708-222342-80622455.jpgLemongrass infused chicken tender free range chicken marinated overnight in lemongrass, rosemary and garlic then char-grilled and served with sautéed green beans and carrot. This was a little dryer than I’m used to although there was still a good kick of lemongrass in the dish.20140708-222416-80656190.jpgSingapore Chilli prawns King prawns in our chef’s Singapore chilli sauce, served on crispy rice noodle cake. Not much of a chilli kick to the prawns but they were cooked well and the sauce was nice to dip the mantou bread into (oops forgot to take a photo!). 20140708-222414-80654554.jpgSince the business boom on Kingston foreshore, it is now much harder to park around Wild Duck. We eventually parked on a perpendicular street which might not sound that far away, but on a cold windy Canberra night, you can definitely feel each extra step.

The service is always attentive and helpful and I really like the food here (I also love their eggplant btw!). See my other Wild duck posts here and here, although I have been many times I don’t blog about it every time, so who knows how many times I’ve actually been hehehe. Thanks!


Don’t forget to use the Entertainment book card!


Berowra Waters Inn

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.20131228-085119.jpgA view of the Hawkesbury river from the carpark.20131228-085108.jpgWe 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.20131228-085159.jpgApproaching the dock.20131228-085211.jpgWe 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.20131228-085227.jpg

20131228-085245.jpgWe 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.


Amuse bouche~

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.

20131228-090024.jpgThe couscous was incredibly crispy and granular, I really liked the texture.20131228-090038.jpgA close up of the sundried tomato butter with black olive.20131228-090048.jpgA 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.20131228-090057.jpgMost 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.

First Course~

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.20131228-090117.jpg

Second course~

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.20131228-090142.jpgHow do they get so much flavour in there?20131228-090156.jpgA close up of the melt in your mouth ocean trout.20131228-090207.jpgThere is a constant change of cutlery between every second course.20131228-090216.jpg

Third 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.20131228-090228.jpg


Fourth course~

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!20131228-090301.jpgWhen 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.20131228-090310.jpg

Fifth 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).

20131228-090331.jpgThe meat disintegrating away as I cut through it.


Sixth course~

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.


Palette cleanser~

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.


Seventh course~

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.

20131228-090422.jpgThe ferry awaits to take us back to reality.20131228-090435.jpgThe 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


It has been a while since I’ve been to Courgette but they now no longer have an a la carte menu, no more amuse bouche or petits fours with teas/coffee or palette cleansers. What they still do have is fabulous food, a romantic setting and attentive wait staff.

I had looked at my calendar well in advance before Valentine’s day and when I realised that it was a Friday and I had shopping plans with girlfriends, I asked TimmyC if we could celebrate fabulous food over a romantic evening on the Saturday instead. When he asked me where I’d like to go, my first thought was Courgette.

Four course set menu ($80.00 pp).20140216-085242.jpgThey have new cutlery since I’ve last been, I love their knives.20140216-085253.jpgComplimentary bread~ 

They serve beautiful warm bread with smoky butter.20140216-085314.jpgWhipped smoked butter – It was amazingly light and airy but with great smoky flavour.20140216-085303.jpgFirst course~

Alaskan king crab tortellini, oyster sauce creme, cucumber, baby radish, chilli straw, black salt and parmesan crumble. I absolutely adored the oyster sauce creme! A beautiful stunning dish; I had complete dish envy.IMG_9224A cross-section of the tortellini.20140216-085357.jpgLightly smoked duck breast, corn and polenta croquette, cucumber, apple and pomegranate salad. Punctuation matters! I thought the duck would be inside the croquette rather than the thin cold slices that were placed under it.  Overall I wasn’t impressed with this dish, I found the croquette filling a bit dry and all the plate elements seemed disconnected from each other. IMG_9219 A crisp croquette on top of thinly sliced duck.IMG_9221Second course~

Wagyu beef (8pt score) with fried eggplant, sherry marinated pimento, chilled potato and leek foam, guinness scratchings, herb salad. This was a tad over seasoned with salt but the beef was fabulous and tender.                             IMG_9226 I love this plate.IMG_9227Roast quail breast and twice cooked golden plains pork belly, asian slaw, soy pearls, mint and coriander. I’m not the keenest on quail and I expected more flavour from the skin and tender breast meat (I have to remember it isn’t like duck meat). My favourite part to this dish was the juicy fatty pork but the skin was not crispy, although it did have a little crackling ‘hat’.IMG_9228 The fat in the pork belly was so delicate and soft that if I sneezed, I’m sure it would have blown away.IMG_9231Third course~

Organic Inglewood chicken, smoked cauliflower puree, seared scallops, sugar cured speck, fermented black garlic. For someone who doesn’t eat that much chicken meat without a bone, I really appreciated the flavour and soft texture to the chicken. My favourite part of the dish (with the smoked cauliflower puree coming a close second) was the seared scallops, they were so sweet and juicy.IMG_9232 It was a very juicy scallop and huge may I add.IMG_9234Potato and parmesan gnocchi, asparagus, truffle, wild mushroom ragout, petite herbs. I’m not one to usually order vegetarian but I love love LOVE a good gnocchi and these were the softest pillows I have ever eaten. The parmesan could have been a smidge thinner but everything else was perfect, the asparagus was perfect, the mushroom was perfect, the gnocchi was… Perfect.


Asparagus with eschalot and ginger ($9.00). Cooked perfectly al dente and the subtle ginger flavour really infused through the whole dish.20140216-085336.jpgParis mash ($9.00). I don’t know if TimmyC’s mashed potato has been spoiling me, but I didn’t think this ‘wow’ed me as much as it used to.IMG_9237Fourth course~ I was surprised to see that no typical crowd pleasers with chocolate/salted caramel/panna cotta something for the fourth course. We naturally went with the last two remaining options on the menu as TimmyC does not enjoy the combination of chocolate and orange, nor would he indulge with me in some fromage.

Fresh watermelon and fetta melange pistachio brittle, pickled cucumber, pressed watermelon, marshmallow. I didn’t enjoy the pistachio brittle after eating sweet meringues from the other dessert as it left a taste of bi-carb soda in my mouth. The rest of the dish was exotic and refreshing, I wouldn’t think to put these flavours together.       IMG_9241 The light was escaping fast, lucky it was the last course.IMG_9243Sticky meringue and lemon curd chiboust, fresh raspberries, elderflower sponge, basil infused milk sorbet. The meringues were soft and chewy and went perfectly well with a delicate fresh raspberry. IMG_9245 I never understood why Courgette no longer gets a mention in ‘Canberra’s top restaurants’ while places like A.baker, Aubergine and Sage get more press. I could have eaten another meal after dining at Sage, the menu didn’t thrill me at A.baker or Aubergine, while at Courgette I’ve never been disappointed nor have I left hungry. The only reason why it didn’t make it into my list last year was because I didn’t dine there in the year of 2013 but it would definitely make it into my 2014 list.

Versace high tea re-run

A new year begins and I find myself sitting at the glamorous Versace Hotel at Main Beach QLD a year later. I don’t plan to make this an annual event, it was just a happy coincidence.

Couture High Tea (basic high tea with no alcohol) $48.00 pp. It was ok, better than your average high tea.It is mostly just novelty to sit on Versace chairs near the beautiful lobby, eat with Versace cutlery on Versace plates. The selection of sweets are definitely better than last year. $30 for valet parking if you just want to roll up and not worry about parking. See my previous experience here.

20140101-163712.jpgTop tier~

A selection of sweets including macarons, meringues, mysterious waffle cones, cake pops, mango (?) tart and a chocolate and passionfruit cake.20140101-163728.jpg

Middle tier~

Plain scones and fruit scones, double cream, savoury quiche, a jelly cream dessert, a variety of olives and a very indulgent salted caramel tart.


Bottom tier~

A selection of sandwiches and crisp bread with a sun-dried tomato dip.20140101-163744.jpg

Each High Tea set comes with a tea or a coffee. I chose ‘Prince of Wales’ tea to be a bit different from the norm, Russian Caravan was also supposed to be good.


I always end on savoury when I can help it, it doesn’t matter if I’m at an all you can eat restaurant, fine dining or high tea. It does get a little sweet towards the end and you might pass out due to a food coma with all the tea so I do suggest leaving a little sandwich or something for the end. Don’t be afraid to ask for more cream/jam/dip, the staff are friendly and are too willing to help.


You don’t need to book if there are less than 6 people. 11am – 5pm daily.