Archive for March, 2011

Roasts I have known & loved (part 1)

March 27, 2011

Mum’s Cooking

No-one does it better.

1) Rare roast beef & jacket potatoes

2) The best pudding in the world – bananas in rum.

3) The Xmas Dinner:

Makes me miss home.

Berowra Waters Inn, Berowra Waters

March 14, 2011

http://www.berowrawatersinn.com

Berowra Waters

A weekend in early February mucking about on the river. We’d hired a river boat from Brooklyn on Friday evening with plans to return it on Monday morning and so maximising our weekend. We were in the midst of a mini heatwave and it was a great time to be on the Hawkesbury, navigating the bays with a couple of friends. We’d planned our meals ahead – a bit of BBQ’ing etc. But of course we had to have a decent Sunday lunch and a visit to Berowra Waters Inn was the perfect excuse. This is one of the few restaurants I’ve been hankering to visit, principally because of its location. It’s not a place you just drop into, being only accessible by boat.

We’d spent the morning swimming and lazing in a bay 10 mins away. It was a perfect Sunday morning. After a sneaky bottle of Veuve we made our way to the restaurant. We had reserved a buoy outside the venue and managed to make a meal of our ‘parking’. Confusion between forward and reverse led to raised voices and a bent boat hook before an audience of our soon-to-be fellow diners. Recovering our compsure we got another boat to take us the 6 metres or so to the restaurant door.

Walking up the stairs you come to a long room in white, stone and pale green with tables. Without airconditioning, this would be a sweltering restaurant due the heat of the summer day, but we were lucky that the weather had just broken and pleasing breeze came through the room.

The view is lovely across the river and there’s a pleasant sense of escapement with Sydney a distant memory. We are handed the menu and it’s a build your own mini degustation of five courses. Choosing from light to heavy one can build themselves a menu of summer dishes or start with steak. It’s a good idea, but it requires discipline….

While we wait we are proffered cured salmon with capers.

It’s a good start. The salmon has a fine meaty texture and capers (according to my wife) are always a welcome addition. Our menu choices are made and we sit back and wait for the meal to begin.

We have to wait a while, but eventually warm rolls arrive.

A choice of wholemeal and sourdough. We choose both because of the wait. The bread is excellent, but it’s just a vessel for the butter – Echire. It’s not often we come across this in Australia and it’s excellent. We are given a choice of salted and unsalted. We are happy and wolf it down….

My wife starts with braised white asparagus, goats cheese fondue and quail egg:

A mini cheese souffle with deep fried quails egg and toothsome asparagus. It’s a great combination and a winner. A simple dish that is elevated with a bit of imagination and smart execution.

I begin with a signature dish – oyster beignets with vichyssoise with salmon and oscietra caviar.

It lives up to its reputation. The oysters are perfectly cooked – the batter protecting the meat well. The vichyssoise is a standout and especially suited to the weather – leeks, potatoes, onion pureed, but served chilled. The oscietra caviar makes the whole dish luxurious and something to savour.

My next dish is another memorable one – razor clams, spaghettini, mud crab with chilli and lemon beurre noisette.

I am a sucker for crab. It’s beautifully served with excellent seasoning – the mearest hint of chilli and a comforting slick of butter that brings it all together. A lovely pasta dish.

A few of us opt for the fish – barramundi fillet with peas, samphire and lemon myrtle.

Again this is a very well executed dish, but lacking a little pizazz. It showcases the fish, but barramundi is not exactly a fish to get excited about if truth be told. No complaints really.

My wife, not one to much around has the wagyu minute steak as her third course, principally because it comes with boulangere potatoes. She loves any potato that can be stacked.

The minute steak is cute, but a full blood example of highly scored wagyu. It satisfies the meat craving. Job done.

I stay a little off-piste: sweetbread, langoustine croustillant with spinach and fennel puree.

It’s a sizeable piece of gland (a lovely description). A favourite of mine. It certainly compliments the langoustine in a left-field surf and turf. The croustillant provides necessary crunch and the whole dish comes together rather nicely.

It sets the scene for the main course, that we all order, to share between two: terracotta baked squab with foie gras cromesquis, wild mushrooms and potato gnocchi. It comes with added theatre:

You are handed a mallet to break the clay before it’s whisked away to be fried off for added colour and flavour.

We’re given a pumpkin veloute while we wait.

It’s as expected silky and smooth, but nothing to write home about.

The main event arrives.

It does not disappoint. The baby pigeon is silky, mild and pairs nicely with a liquid foie gras bolstered by mushroom and the cliched pillow soft gnocchi. It’s a killer plate and memorable.

It brings to close our main course and we’re offered a pre-dessert of pineapple and cream. It’s pleasant and sweet.

The piece-de-resistance is the dessert plate – a combination of the four options – dark chocolate tart with raspberries, lemon and lime custard with aubergine crisp and strawberries, semifreddo of white chocolate and roasted peaches and finally mango souffle, mango ice cream with passionfruit ripple ice cream.

All are quite delectable. The lemon & lime custard has the curious touch with aubergine. the chocolate tart has a great dense cocoa hit while the stand-out is the souffle with great ice-cream. It brings to close an excellent and enjoyable menu, which is almost ruined by the nespresso coffee. Nespresso in a two hat restaurant…. After the evident effort in the rest of the meal it’s like throwing in the towel. I have Nespresso at home and shouldn’t have to drink it here. Calm down…

Petit fours almost rescue the situation.

So, all in all an excellent meal, with only a couple of minor quibbles. It’s an interesting and evolving menu with very good technique in a truly memorable location. The service however was certainly on the lackadaisical side. The waitresses were young and seemed more interested in flirting with the next door table. I expected more from this kind of restaurant and it did serve to make our meal not as perfect as it could have been. Still that aside, would love to go back.