For the past few weeks, I’ve been touring my home country of China. Sure, the mid-semester break was only a week long but I was very…liberal with my holiday plans. As such, the trip lasted two whole weeks! Followers of my instagram account would have seen snippets of my trip – whenever I had access to wifi.
Unfortunately, that did mean a rather long hiatus with my blog, not to mention uni and its vengeful ways of catching up with you.
But dear readers, to appease you, I have a big doozy of a post today. One that I’ve been meaning to do for some time, but only had the opportunity to put up today. Berowra Waters Inn (BWI) is truly one of the few restaurants in Sydney that can be considered a destination dining experience. Dining at BWI is the event, not as the snack to fuel some other trip. People come here to propose. It’s that kind of a place.
Date Last Visited: 21/9/13
Address: public wharves, Berowra Waters, NSW (how to get there)
Recommended Dish(es): you have to get the deg, but my faves are the chicken lemon thyme, the dessert, and the oysters w/squid ink jelly
Disclaimer: I’m Still Hungry dined as guests of Berowra Waters Inn (opportunity provided by Impressions Marketing). Opinions are however, my own.
Getting to BWI is a rather unique process. Your two main options are by ferry and seaplane. When taking the ferry option, you have to drive up to Berowra Waters, locate the private pier where a special ferry that only serves the restaurant awaits. From there, it’s about a 5min ride to the restaurant jetty. As for the seaplane…well I’m told the flight isn’t particularly long. At nearly $400, it’s not cheap.
Since I live in the south, the drive to the ferry pier took around 2 hours, but that was due to school holiday traffic. Ordinarily I’d have made the trip in about 90 minutes or so. While we were waiting for others in the group to arrive, I took the above shot showing the ferry and its full-time driver.
The restaurant is a pretty sight from the outside – all yellow limestone brick and glass. Exuding a modern air on top of historic foundations, the inn’s 100+ year history reflects it.
BWI would not be what it is without a water alfresco view – as such, almost every table is a window table, with a clear view of the river outside.
It was quite idyllic on the weekend – people come and go on their boats as they please, and we even saw flocks of ducks at times. You could relax for hours here.
The degustation is all that BWI offers, which makes sense, considering the effort one makes to get to the restaurant. It comes in at $250pp with matching wines, or $180 without. We were offered the $250 option, but as I was a driver (and on green Ps at that), I was rather sad that I couldn’t partake.
Well…apart from a glass of champagne that was sure to be purged from my system in the many hours I knew I was going to be there. I’ve taken quite a liking to champagne over the past few years – the crispy dry notes of the fermentation is something I never tire of these days. Bring on the bubbly!
In 2013, BWI won a chef’s hat from the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, and from the very first amuse bouche I’m beginning to see why. The presentation floored me, there was something very zen-like in this smoked eel. The yellow is quite calming and pleasant, and the taste was delightful. Rich umami tones with soft textures everywhere has a similar effect to really good tuna – my appetite is primed for the courses to follow.
At this point, butter was given in preparation for the bread to follow. I do expect fine dining restaurants to provide house churned butters, often with their own spin. The BWI variant, with punchy olive shavings on a tomato-ey butter is one of the best and most unique butters I’ve had. I went through two serves. Oops.
But I wouldn’t just eat two scoops of butter – the bread had better be up to scratch. The black olive was the best tasting, while the sourdough was surprisingly flavoursome. The walnut took a backseat here.
Props for offering three choices of bread; At the moment I can’t think of a restaurant that offers this variety.
And this is it. The first proper dish, but it’s immediately the most unique one, all the way to the end. It’s also probably my second-most favourite. This is some serious gastronomy here. The oysters are not the black masses – that is squid ink jelly. The oysters are on the INSIDE.
Texturally, it was quite fascinating, as you really don’t think too much of the jelly – it tastes just like that. No weird side tastes or anything like that. Not that squid ink is meant to have any particularly strong flavour. The oysters themselves go very well with the cream, furthering the flavour profile introduced in the amuse bouche.
The overall visual effect is like you’re eating stones, and boy, I could not help but compare it to the Japanese Stones had at Sepia.
That’s gastronomy for you – your eyes think one thing but you’re really eating something else.
The seafood keeps rolling out with the confit ocean trout. I have pretty much no complaints about this dish – the trout was cooked wonderfully, amongst the best I’ve had in texture and taste. The green olive mousse was very light and airy, though overall didn’t contribute /too/ much to the dish. I’d be happy with just the trout, but I appreciate the colour pairing here.
Ah marron. Every time I’ve been served marron, I’ve loved it. There’s something about these yabbies that’s just right – perhaps it’s the size that’s just right, and the texture. It comes in a consomme or some sort of dashi, poured by the waitress in front of your eyes.
And yes, it’s a great dish. Light on the palate, but the texture of the yabby is so fine, I’m all over it. As for the peas, they seem rather pedestrian paired with such a dish, but I think the green colour they impart works quite well.
You could expect this dish to just pack the flavour and it does not disappoint. There’s a reason why this was the favourite of many – the chicken was pretty much where it needed to be in texture, with delicious seasoning.
It’s a fairly complicated dish visually, but there’s not much to say – it just works. A classic.
By the way, the plate’s not broken – that’s how it’s meant to look
As gorgeous as this dish looks, it was actually my least favourite out of the degustation. It was mainly the fault of the lamb – it was more tepid than I’d have liked, and wasn’t well seasoned, despite the herb crust.
I think of the lamb was served at a higher temperature then this problem would be large rectified.
Absolutely gorgeous sweetbread though. That was almost good enough to carry the dish.
I’m never sure how to categorise goat’s cheese – it it a savoury or a sweet product? Is this dish a pre-pre dessert or is it a final savoury wrap up?
In any case, I’m a fan of goat’s cheese so this dish works well for me. I’m a little amused by the use of your run of the mill muesli, but textually they’re there to good effect. Can’t complain.
Strong, bold cheesy flavours are with this dish. You’ll love it that’s up your alley. Else, a dish to give to me to eat
This lovely little pre-dessert was two-layered. You’re seeing the melon foam, while below it lies a lemon posset which tastes a lot like lemon custard. The fancy version? I suppose. The combination of the two made for a surprisingly refreshing pre-dessert that didn’t have to rely on something that’s got too much citrus.
The first thing that took my attention was the deliberately off-centre plating. Having watched Masterchef AU just a few months ago, this was of particular interest. Perhaps it was all in my head, but this off centre plating makes quite the visual impact. Pair it with the colours of the dessert and you’re onto a strikingly presented dessert.
Does it have great taste to boot? Absolutely. Sichuan pepper ice cream is definitely a novelty I’ve rarely tried before. Tasting notes resemble your run of the mill ice cream, but more mastic, and with hints of numbing pepper – but not anywhere near enough to actually produce that effect. While delicious on its own, I found that eating it with the ruler-precision poached rhubarb to be a lovely combination. Red and red make a good team here.
On the lower side, the yoghurt bavarois is like a souped up froyo, and as always, goes excellently with crumble.
One of the better desserts I’ve tasted in my sweet tooth’s history.
Brian Geraghty (right) makes an appearance for us – he’s a great fellow, very easygoing and friendly. His wife, Victoria (left) was our sommelier for the lunch. A lovely couple running a lovely restaurant – some things just work out don’t they?
With these petit fours of macarons and something I could compare to a really good madeira cake, the food finally draws to a close.
Now, if only I could take the seaplane back…
Berowra Waters Inn is the restaurant of choice if you ever want to impress your significant other – the journey and method of access itself makes a story, while the food is what will keep you coming back for more. BWI definitely deserves its chef’s hat.
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three
Awesome: superb food, destination dining that rivals the three hats in Sydney city, very novel
Not so Awesome: novelty also gets in the way if you want to come here often