A trip to Berowra Waters Inn is a journey, you might even call it a pilgrimage almost. It takes commitment and planning. Located along the Hawkesbury River, it’s a one hour drive north of Sydney leaving the confines of suburbia. Even when you get there, the journey is not quite over. The only way to get to the front door of this place is by boat, or if you have the cash to burn, by seaplane. And if its location doesn’t say ‘exclusive’ enough, to top it off, it’s only open for lunch on Friday-Saturday, and dinner for Friday and Saturday.
There’s a few routes that you can take by car – we decide to take a drive up the F3 Highway past Hornsby and arrive on the eastern side of Berowra Creek. Car parks here are scant here and we’re forced to squeeze between a ute and a signpost to a little parking area to the side of the main road. Confused about where we needed to go next, we walk up the road and lo-behold, a sign directs us to a private wharf where we find a boat waiting there to ferry us along the river to the restaurant for the last leg of our journey.
Upon arrival, we moor at a jetty leading straight up to the front door of the sandstone building. Heading up the stairs we enter a spacious wooden dining area with all the seating optimally positioned to take in the tranquillity of the restaurant’s surroundings viewable through it’s floor-to-ceiling louvred windows. As it is winter, they were all kept shut, but I would imagine that sitting in the middle of summer and being able to enjoy fresh air and the sounds of the bush and the occasional rumble of a passing boat would have been quite lovely.
Originally opened by Gay Bilson, the restaurant was taken over in 2007 by Dietmar Sawyere, who was once the owner and executive chef of the now closed Forty-One Restaurant. The food here focuses on local and organic produce with French and Italian influences. The twist at this restaurant however is that you’re completely kept in the dark on the menu. Instead, you’re given a price list and a choice between a 6 or 8 course degustation menu (8 for us of course!), asked if there are any food preferences or allergies and that’s it. I must say that it was a completely different but thoroughly an enjoyable experience to be completely unaware of what’s coming up next and to be constantly surprised with each course as they arrive. A word of warning though – be prepared for a very long meal if you choose the 8 course menu – we were there for over four and a half hours by the time we left!
Private Ferry to Berowra Waters Inn
The boat was right here waiting for us at the jetty when we arrived – perfect timing!
We have arrived!
Amuse Bouche : Potato Churros with a Truffle Mayonnaise & Sugar Cured Salmon with Guacamole and Salmon Caviar
Wow, what a start to the meal with such a generous amuse bouche. The potato churros was light and fluffy on the inside with a very delicate crunchy exterior while the truffle mayonnaise was earthy, rich and decadent. The sugar cured salmon on the other hand had a very subtle sweetness about it contrasted by the tiny burst of salt from the salmon caviar.
Chilled Vichyssoise, Oscietra & Salmon Caviars; Beignets of Hawkesbury Oysters
This appeared to be a regular appearance in the Berowra Waters Inn menu after looking at a few fellow food blogs. The deep-fried oysters were lightly crumbed while the spoonful of leek hidden underneath nice sweet and savoury accompaniment which was simple divine and nicely echoed the leek and potato in the vichyssoise. We definitely made full use of the teaspoons we were given to scrape out every last bit! The vichyssoise was the winner for me out of these two dish components though – it was thick and silky smooth contrasted by the occasional crunch of the croutons on top and the freshness afforded by the oscietra and salmon caviar abundantly hidden inside. Again, the spoon was used to its full advantage to ensure that every last bit of the vichyssoise was not wasted.
Local Hawkesbury Mud Crab, Celeriac, Sheeps Milk Yoghurt & Lemon Beurre Noisette
Sweet fibres of mud crab with a lightly fried potato round, smooth celeriac purée and very subtle lemon beurre noisette (brown butter sauce). The only let down of the dish though was the croutons – they were nicely crunchy on the outside, but once you bit through to the middle they were still a little chewy.
White & Wild Asparagus, Wood Mushrooms, Slow Cooked Organic Egg Yolk & Bacon Crumbs
I’m not a big fan of the powdery-ness of boiled and overcooked egg yolk so to me, the silky slow cooked egg yolk was the highlight of the dish here. The wood mushrooms were just lightly sautéed which left them with a decent amount of bite while the asparagus were lightly blanched and kept relatively simple with a light seasoning. Of course, you simply can’t go wrong with a liberal sprinkling of bacon crumbs which rounded up the dish with a savoury and textural contrast.
Western Australian Marron, Spinach & Fennel Puree, & Israeli Cous Cous
Who could say no to such a plump, juicy-looking piece of marron? This was served on a bed of Israeli cous cous which gave a nice bit of texture to the dish and a spinach and fennel purée which highlighted the sweetness of the fresh marron tail. It’s relatively simple, but it was definitely my favourite of the whole meal.
Fillet of John Dory, Jersualem Artichoke, Mussels, Salted Walnuts & Verjus
I’m not a big orderer of fish at restaurants – more often than not, the flesh is overcooked, dry and fibrous. In this case, the fillet of john dory was only lightly pan friend just enough to give the fish a very slight crispness to the skin without compromising the moist flesh below. The foamy crustacean veloute that it was served with was rich and packed full of flavour while the slightly bitter taste of the salted walnuts was a nice contrast.
Local Farmed Quail, Parsnips, Black Winter Truffle & Madeira Jus
Onto the heavier courses and this was a perfect winter type meal with it’s bed of winter vegetables and parsnips. The tender breast and leg meat of the roasted quail was nicely complemented by the sweet and rich Madeira jus.
Demi Tasse of Pumpkin & Amaretti Soup
In hindsight, it’s a bit strange that this was served just before the last savoury course. I would have thought that it would have been slotted between the john dory and quail dishes but who am I to argue with the chef? That aside, the pumpkin soup was light and frothy, and I must say that the sweet and nutty flavour of the crushed amaretti was a nice surprise.
Slow Braised Lamb Shank, Bone Marrow Dumpling, Sweet Green Peas & Roast Shallot
I’m not generally a lamb-fan having grown up in a Chinese family where more robust meats like beef, lamb, mutton and the like were often met with screwed up noses and a comment about it being too 臊 (sou). However, I make an exception for this dish. The soft lamb was first wrapped in a layer of spinach and then by a steamed bone marrow dumpling. As we were getting close to the four-hour-mark at this point of the meal, this dish, especially the dense bone marrow dumpling, was a bit on the heavy side for me. No complaints from Felix though, who happily polished off my dish once I’d had a taste of everything.
Lemon & Goats Cheesecake, Quince & Hazelnuts
A beautifully light cheesecake with a very subtle lemon and goats cheese flavour. It was paired with a rich hazelnut ice cream and the slightly tart and sweet quince purée and an additional crunch given by the crushed hazelnuts and toffee.
Rhum Baba, Roast Pear & Caramel Mousse
This was served on a single plate but seemed more like two bite-sized desserts to me. The rhum baba was a bit heavy and stodgy for me probably because it was soaked in a liberal amount of rum. I much preferred the roast pear which was nicely paired with a sweet caramel mousse.
|Berowra Waters Inn
Berowra Waters, Sydney, Australia
P: 612 9456 1027 F: 612 9456 2027