Eschalot

http://www.eschalot.com.au

24 Old Hume Highway, Berrima, NSW

A weekend in NSW was started with the Friday night dash out of Sydney. This of course presented an opportunity to have a pleasant meal out of the big smoke. Bowral & Berrima are in easy striking distance and Eschalot looked to be the named restaurant in the area.

Having recently lost it’s hat after 3 consecutive years, it was hard to gauge what the meal would be like, but we decided to give it a go and it was nice to seek refuge in such a lovely building with the weather so dire.

The restaurant itself is divided up into several small rooms which doesn’t do a lot for the ambience or give the place a buzz. Instead the atmosphere is relatively hushed, but the friendly and approachable service sort of makes up for it.

A litte amuse-bouche was proffered:

Rather unusually it was pork terrine with apple, a bit of departure from norm of cauliflower soup. It was decent enough, but didn’t exactly wow the taste-buds.

The meal got off to a better start with an entree of seared scallops, duck neck sausage with a fennel & orange salad:

The scallops were fat, succulent and well cooked. I also liked the duck sausage as a riff on the normal black pudding. It came together well with the orange providing necessary sweetness. It was a competent dish.

My wife plumbed for a special of stuffed courgette flowers with a simple salad of diced tomatoes & cucumber.

It had a fresh garden feel, but to be honest the flavours were a little muted.

The main courses followed a meaty theme. My wife will order anything that features something resembling potato dauphinoise. So she opted for loin and shoulder of lamb with leeks & pommes sarladaise.

The loin was a beautiful colour and consistency, probably as a result of sous-vide. She wasn’t such a huge fan of the slow cooked shoulder, since it’s a more fiberous cut of meat, but it didn’t matter with the carbs proving a hit – heavily layered sliced potato baked in the oven.

I decided to stick with more duck and with roasted breast and confit leg with poached pear and juniper jus.

Again the two style of meat cuts provided the contrast and interest. The pear was a welcome counterpoint and at least something different to potato accompaniement, though I suspect this was a ruse to get the customer to spend another $9 on a side dish. And considering the mains were nudging $40 it was taking the mickey a little bit… Anyway the dish went down well.

We decided against ordering dessert. I think it was getting late and the hearty dishes made pudding a little unnecessary.

We thought this an OK meal. The cooking as mentioned was competent, but lacked all important subtlety and a bit of wow, especially considering the price. This is a fine restaurant for the diner seeking comforting cooking with quality food, but it would need something a little extra to get me back. But you could do far worse.

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