Berowra Waters Inn | Sydney North

Hat trick (n, sporting context): success achieved three times in the same game. In the cutthroat sport of restauranteering, three rounds of excellent results over multiple years of visits is something rarely achieved. But that’s exactly what Berowra Waters Inn has accomplished under Brian Geraghty in his stewardship of this remote restaurant. Sydney’s hidden gem remains as polished as ever.


Date
Last Visited: 22/10/2016 7/12/2014
Address: Public Wharves Berowra Waters, NSW
Price Guide: $165 plus drinks

For this latest visit, I was invited to Berowra Waters Inn by Victoria Zwierzynski (partner to head chef Brian Geraghty) herself, so The Usual Disclaimer applies. Having said that, as my third visit here, there’s really no denying my near-unconditional affection for Berowra Waters Inn.

The Inn is about 50km from the Sydney CBD, so convenience isn’t exactly going to be on the “pros” column. However, remoteness is very much the allure of the restaurant. It starts with the private ferry, which takes around 2-3 minutes and deposits you at the beautiful Glenn Murcutt-designed limestone building that dates back over 85 years. You can also get here by seaplane, but given that it’s 2-3x the price of your $165pp meal here, you may want to save that one for the most special of occasions for that most special someone.

Berowra Waters Inn – 2016 Visit

Berowra Waters Inn
Just like old times

The restaurant is always full of light due to the wall-sized, windowed frontage – you can’t take a bad photo here. The tranquil, serene setting of Berorwa Waters Creek is what diners at the Inn are privy to – the occasional paddling of ducks lazing about on the jetty would agree. Few restaurants offer incredible food with a panorama & atmosphere like this one, and the very patchy reception (for non-Telstra customers) is almost a blessing in disguise.

Berowra Waters Inn
Decor’s changed up a bit, but still white on white on white. Love it!

Berowra Waters Inn runs a 6-course menu with no a la carte option. Getting here is an experience in and of itself, this is strictly long lunch territory.

Berowra Waters Inn
Coconut mocktail

While the menu can be supplemented with a $85 wine pairing, I had a bit of a big night the previous night (haha) and was driving anyway. Fortunately, we were introduced to Victoria’s mocktail-making skills – starting with a coconut-based number that was “bloody refreshing as heck” (as I kept remarking while sipping on it), with strong hints of coconut and avoiding the trap of cloying sweetness.

Berowra Waters Inn
Pineapple & limonata mocktail

Later in the meal, a second mocktail (we never intended to get more than one but they were so good!) of pineapple & limonata was fruity, spritzy and oh so very tropical.

Teetotalers fret not – the Inn has you covered.

Berowra Waters Inn
Cucumber sandwiches w/roe, chorizo & onion

Our meal properly started off with an amuse bouche of sandwiches of cucumber w/roe, and chorizo onion & raisins

I’m glad I picked the crispy, clean-tasting cucumber & roe bites to eat first, as this juicy nibble paved the way to the literal box of intensely flavourful chorizo powder, onion jam(?) with sweet and rather plump raisins. This latter morsel was ensconsed in a much more friable pastry container (as opposed to the biscuit-like crunchiness of the cucumber sandwich) and was a much more decadent flavour experience.

Berowra Waters Inn
Okay, it was better from above

Both were great starts to the meal!

Berowra Waters Inn
House-made sourdough w/salted treacle butter

Bread came as housemade sourdough and salted treacle butter. In prior visits, I was able to choose from more than one variety of bread, so this was technically a regression. Not that I minded all that much – the sourdough was crusty where it should be, and chewy where it should be. It was served at room temperature which didn’t align with my preference for warm bread, but that’s about the only item on my wishlist.

Berowra Waters Inn
One more, please

What did give the bread at Berowra Waters Inn the edge was the salted treacle butter. Easily spreadable, and with a sweet and tingly burnt aftertaste, it easily creams most competition.

Berowra Waters Inn
Confit & tartare of ocean trout, smoked milk gel, lemon foam & dashi gel

Our first course was ocean trout two ways – tartare & confit. Putting halos aside, it’s not too far of a stretch to compare the confit trout to the spiritually-similar dish that elevated Tetsuya Wakuda to stardom. It really was that good – perfect consistency in texture throughout, retaining the freshness of the fish without the common surfeit of saltiness. The tartare was a similar story, cut up in daringly large chunks that actually worked really well given trout’s softer texture compared with say, a steak.

Berowra Waters Inn
Ah-may-zing

Topping the dish was a surprisingly acidic lemon foam, and dotted around the sides of the plate were various gels that added either smokiness, umami, or creaminess to the fish. A firecracker of a flavour bomb, tightly and neatly executed – the best dish in the meal.

Berowra Waters Inn
Queensland spanner crab Bavarois

If there was to be a dish that didn’t quite do it for me, it would be the QLD spanner crap bavarois. Despite it being my least favourite, I still somewhat liked it. In particular, the tomato consomme was a hit with its thicker-than-water viscosity and tempered, fruity sweetness. The crab itself had the texture of fish paste, and tasted a bit like tofu – it was these aspects that weren’t quite to my palate.

Berowra Waters Inn
This was okay…

I couldn’t help but picture the crab bavarois as the filling for a steamed dumpling – that would be interesting to try!

Berowra Waters Inn
Hokkaido scallops w/smoked eel puree & textures of peas

The greenest dish we’ve seen (apart from perhaps one of Berowra Waters Inn’s own dishes last year) were the Hokkaido scallops w/smoked eel puree & textures of peas.

Once again, my summary of this dish is almost too boring to read because there’s effectively nothing to criticise. The scallops were cooked perfectly – charred just right on top, fleshy and sweet throughout. There are crunchy shoots, powder, crispy leaves, savoury and earthy puree all derived from peas that each showcased the vegetable in a singularly unique and tasty way.

Berowra Waters Inn
Hokkaido? I do!

For that bit of an edge, the eel puree added just the right amount of smokiness and breaks the green theme just a little bit – it was most welcome to do so. A stunning dish in visuals and taste.

Berowra Waters Inn
12hr slow-cooked lamb w/anchovy shallot puree, broad beans & turnips

Bringing things back to Australia-land was a cut of 12hr slow-cooked lamb w/anchovy & shallot puree. The lamb was the chewy and moreish highlight – slow and steady was clearly the way to win the race here. Tender and consistently so, it was yet again difficult to complain about the lamb. Well, unless you don’t like the taste of lamb in the first place – then you’ll have a problem.

Berowra Waters Inn
An Aussie tradition

While the lamb was nothing short of excellent, what made the dish more interesting was the fishy and briny anchovy puree – I’m not so sure this was the perfect accompaniment to the meat, but it tasted pretty dandy when paired with the sweet & crunchy turnips and broad beans dotted around the plate.

Berowra Waters Inn
Lemon aspen & mango

To cleanse the palate of the heavy savoury finish, a beautiful pre-dessert of lemon aspen & mango was crafted to hit the spot. The lemon aspen came in a curd that was cream-like in texture (or do we just call it a “cream” at that point?), and the mango layer on top was akin to a jelly.

Berowra Waters Inn
So creamy, so good

Sharp, acidic, refreshing, and very pretty = the hallmarks of a great pre-dessert were substantively satisfied.

Berowra Waters Inn
Raspberry bavarois, tarragon sherbert & tarragon ice cream

Our first main dessert was a raspberry bavarois w/tarragon sherbet
& ice cream
. Tarragon is a bit liquorice-like in flavour, so I was surprised to find myself enjoying it in the form of an ice cream. It’s still not really my thing, but I liked it for what it was. The sherbert was a little bit disappointing – it wasn’t acidic at all, tasting more like a neutral milk powder.

Berowra Waters Inn

The raspberry bavarois was a mousse-like hit of raspberry. It was a bit rich for my liking, but with a small portion it didn’t build up.

Berowra Waters Inn
Chocolate, matcha & lavender

The final dessert (whoa, so many sweets!) was a chocolate gelato on top of a pillow of aerated lavendar yoghurt, which itself sat on a bed of chocolate mousse. Impossibly thin candied chocolate was perched on top and the whole thing was sprinkled with matcha crumb.

Don’t be too surprised to hear that the matcha crumb had essentially no matcha flavour. It’s really there as crunch. On the other hand, chocolate? That’s everywhere. From the crunchy pieces on top to the rich and velvety gelato, all the way down to the creamy dark mousse below – it’s very much a plate of debauched, chocolatey goodness. Mmmm mmmm. If you weren’t getting full from the previous courses, you’ll feel it soon enough.

Berowra Waters Inn
Raspberry financier, apple lemon jelly, brulee tart

But Berowra Waters Inn had one final gift for us. Well, three rather: raspberry financiers, apple lemon jellies & brulee tarts.

All very good, though by this point my palate was knackered. That said, the crunch and browned brulee tart with zesty custard was particularly memorable. All in all, a great finish – but if I were to be a little picky, a little too rich with which to end the meal.

Berowra Waters Inn
Not actually edible

Three very impressive visits to Berowra Waters Inn. If Brian Geraghty’s culinary skills were transferred to football, he’d be playing at the World Cup.

The Good:

  • Berowra Waters Inn has plugged essentially every gap since my previous visit and improved across the board – the food’s never been better. Flavour, plating, execution – it’s all there.
  • Really good non-alcoholic drinks selection

The Bad:

  • The spanner crab could use a little bit of rework.
  • Some of the desserts build up to a slightly uncomfortable level of richness by the end

The Ugly:

  • Be prepared to drive lots or fork out lots for a seaplane.
  • Still unsure about whether diners in summer will be scorched or not (see previous post down below)

I have a new scoring system! Read all about it here.

Most important takeaway – three separate scores for food, service and ambiance to give the final score. The new system is not compatible with any score given prior to 11/11/2014.

F8 | S4 | A3
8/10 Caesars

Berowra Waters Inn – 2014 Visit

In the summer of 2013, I was invited by the lovely folks from Impressions Marketing to Berowra Waters Inn to sample Brian Geraghty’s summer menu – new at the time. As you can read in that particular post, the meal was more or less worthy of the term “exceptional”. Yes, in the sense that it was definitely above the norm, there was a finesse to each dish that impressed both visually, as well as living up to the rarely-given accolade – tastes as good as it looks.

I’ve always said I would return on an independently paid visit, despite the arduous 60km drive up north. Then again, that’s part of the attraction – it’s really an experience in and of itself. It was pure coincidence that it happened to be the summer menu once more – one year onwards.

Has the charm that was such an integral part of the initial experience worn off, or is successful innovation still at the forefront of chef Geraghty’s menu?

Berowra Waters Inn
I love this boat ride, I really do.

Unless you opt to visit Berowra Waters Inn via seaplane – an experience that’s more than double the price of the meal itself – you will be able to enjoy the short, five-minute boat ride to the restaurant and take in the scenery of Berowra Waters. It always strikes me how you can find such class-leading food in a place like this – but it goes to show that all it takes is passion, and a whole lot of skill and you can succeed anywhere.

Berowra Waters Inn
Impeccable

I still vouch that this restaurant is one of, if not the prettiest restaurants I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining in. It’s prettier than any of Sydney CBD’s fine dining fare, but that’s just me – I’m a big fan of beauty in simplicity.

Berowra Waters Inn menu
Today’s menu. I prefer detailed descriptions, but minimalism has its place

As usual, BWI’s menu is degustation-only, at $180pp. That said, we were informed that an a la carte menu will begin to be served beginning this year (2015). I’m very curious about this, so I think a third visit is definitely in order.

Oops, perhaps I’ve already given away the outcome of this review?

Berowra Waters Inn
Pumpkin ginger mousse, orange gel, liquorice soil

The amuse for today is a pumpkin ginger mousse w/orange gel & liquorice soil. As far as starters go, this fulfills my expectations of something akin to a palate-opener. The airiness of the mousse complement the orange gel’s citrus flavours, while the pumpkin and liquorice impart a savouriness to the dish that whets the appetite for what’s to come.

Berowra Waters Inn bread
The bread platter, I want to have it all

Naturally, in the course of things to come, bread is as sure as the setting sun. The bread basket presentation is a fantastic idea – I love how it invokes the feel of a bakery, a touch of homeliness that’s most welcome in the often artificiality and rigidity of a fine dining service.

Berowra Waters Inn
Rye bread + walnut bread, house butter

There are two types of bread on offer on my visit – rye bread and walnut. While rye is usually my preference, the nuttiness of the walnut won me over completely. You can bet I got myself more than one of those.

Berowra Waters Inn
Compressed cucumber, poached scampi, finger lime gel

Our first dish of the meal is something green and something from the sea – compressed cucumber w/poached scampi & finger lime gel.

This dish is fantastic, and that’s actually an overarching sentiment applicable to the entire meal. I just can’t help but continue to spoil the outcome, eh?

Berowra Waters Inn
Amazing

But yes, from this first dish, I was already sold. The scampi, perfectly poached, tender and delicious. A dash of finger lime gel is all that’s needed to let this juicy morsel glisten.

I’m less sold on the cucumber, but I always thought of compressed vegetables as a bit of a gimmick. Still, I like cucumber, so its presence does not offend – and the dish’s looks very much benefits from the green – green is good!

Berowra Waters Inn
Kipfler tortellini, French onion consomme

Up next is something a bit heavier, in the guise of a “potato dumpling” as I’d call it. AKA kipfler tortellini in French onion consomme, this dish appeals to all that is good about heartiness. Indeed, tucking into one of the bite-sized parcels gives that familiar burst of delicious starchiness that ensures the longevity of potatoes as a staple crop.

While I could enjoy the tortellini all by themselves, immersing them in the French onion consomme is most welcome. A great pairing, actually – the dish makes no pretenses about its savoury goodness, nothing is held back. This dish is all about the flavour.

Berowra Waters Inn
Glacier 51 toothfish, pressed cos lettuce leaf, lemon thyme foam, peas, seaweed salt

A piece of art next arrives on our table – glacier 51 toothfish w/pressed cos, lemon thyme foam & seaweed salt.

The art of plating, right? A beautiful dish, and once again tasting as good as it looks. Toothfish is very expensive, and rightly so – its buttery textures make cod seem like rubber.

What, I like to exaggerate sometimes! But really, it’s great stuff, and I’m chuffed whenever I see toothfish on the menu.

Berowra Waters Inn
I think I’m going to print this picture and frame it…

What I do find a little bit odd is the progression of the meal – a light seafood dish, followed by a heavy, starchy dish, then followed once again by another light seafood dish? I didn’t quite understand this, but perhaps Berowra Waters Inn’s approach is more of an ebb and flow, rather than a buildup to a crescendo. Something to think about.

Berowra Waters Inn
Heavy wallets incoming!

On my last visit, a couple visited BWI by means of seaplane – with what I’m sure ended up in a proposal! I didn’t expect another proposal-impending couple to fly down this time, but a seaplane did indeed land. A grand entrance – all yours for just $500+!

Berowra Waters Inn
Poached chicken, garlic puree, deep fried garlic, grilled leek, chicken mince wrapped in leek, parmesan crumble

The first main – poached chicken w/garlic puree & leek-wrapped chicken mince steals our attention away from the seaplane with its aromas before its looks. This is the most fragrant dish on the menu, thanks to that lovely garlic puree.

Berowra Waters Inn
Ananas, you’ve been outdone

Remember when I said in my post on Ananas that its Bresse chicken was quite possibly my favourite chicken dish of 2014? Looks like I shouldn’t have said that. Yep, Berowra Waters Inn has pulled a last-minute victory.

I loved almost every aspect of this dish, from the perfected texture of the chicken, to savouriness of the mince, to the potently aromatic garlic, and the light tang of the parmesan.

If anything, the chicken mince was a little bit salty, but that’s about as much of an issue as I can find with this otherwise exemplary plate.

Berowra Waters Inn
Lamb provencal, labneh, red peppers, sweetbreads, grilled aubergine

Bringing up the rear of the mains is the lamb provencal w/grilled aubergine. At this point, I thought I would be used to the array of plates used to plate up each dish (and especially considering the plating I got on my last visit!), but I should probably give that a rest, since I’m constantly being surprised by the quality levels achieved here.

Berowra Waters Inn
Get in my belly

As far as this menu goes, it’s probably the least impressive dish on the menu outside of the amuse bouche. While textures were BWI-level impressive (perfectly cooked lamb, what can I say?), the flavours were less than stellar. In fact, the texture of BWI’s lamb is so good, it was a bit jarring not to find the accompanying flavour that I would expect of it.

Lamb’s a hard one, isn’t it?

Berowra Waters Inn
Coconut mousse w/cucumber sorbet

On the palate cleanser side, we were presented with a coconut mousse w/cucumber sorbet. YES! I’m quite rightly excited as I love this type of palate cleanser – chilled, refreshing, and just a little bit fruity.

This is how I like to be sent off to dessert. Speaking of more artwork…

Berowra Waters Inn
Lavender mousse, peach sorbet, fennel

Our first dessert goes to the dark side of plating, on which sites a lavender mousse w/peach sorbet & fennel. I have mixed feelings about this dish – I liked how it tastes, but for some reason I’m not entirely sure it all works together. Lavender and fennel doesn’t seem to do it for me, even as each of the elements of the dessert are quite nice, if not exceptional.

Berowra Waters Inn
Jus me up!

There was also a bit of awkwardness in the plating of my mum’s version of this dessert – the sorbet collapsed. Risky! Don’t worry, if that happens to you, you can request a new one. We didn’t.

Berowra Waters Inn
An obligatory #fromabove

My overall conclusion about this particular sugar hit is that the peach sorbet would be quite nice, but nobody has only ice cream for dessert at a fine dining restaurant!

Berowra Waters Inn
Two-layer mousse: peanut topped w/chocolate, gold dust on top, caramel ice cream, lemon myrtle jelly

It didn’t really matter by the time the second dessert comes in. This is the real deal – chocolate & peanut double mousse, caramel ice cream, lemon myrtle jelly.

While chocolate traditionally not what I prefer in desserts (I know, that’s what’s known as pulling a “reader-alienating” move), my mind was definitely changed this rare time.

Berowra Waters Inn
This dessert deserves to show off all its chops.

What sells me are the two mousses. Their texture is remarkable, while flavour-wise, the chocolate is balanced just right – not going too heavy, which is what I usually find with chocolate desserts. The peanut is even better, with that distinct buttery nuttiness, which also serves as a nice foil to the chocolate.

Double mousse indeed.

Berowra Waters Inn
That spongy mousse mmm…

I haven’t forgotten about the caramel ice cream either – that’s just great stuff in general, so while it could be considered basic, it’s preferable to something that’s riskier but inferior.

Berowra Waters Inn
A third time? Definitely

There is one major problem with eating at Berowra Waters Inn in summer – the heat. It was a high-30s day and there’s no air-conditioning in the restaurant. You do the math. There is a bit of a breeze, but that doesn’t do it for me. If they implement aircon, things would be so much cooler. As usual, I went there.

Berowra Waters Inn has once again greatly impressed me with its revamped menu. Rarely does a second visit to a fine dining restaurant capture the magic of the first visit, but Gregharty has done it. Maybe just install some aircon next time.

Berowra Waters Inn
Can’t wait to go a la carte

This post is based on an independently paid visit

Have you been to Berowra Waters Inn? What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!

The Good:

  • An exceptional menu, both in plating and in execution

The Bad:

  • The starter and desserts were letdowns to an otherwise most impressive menu

The Ugly:

  • No air-conditioning is a serious buzzkill

I have a new scoring system! Read all about it here.

Most important takeaway – three separate scores for food, service and ambiance to give the final score. The new system is not compatible with any score given prior to 11/11/2014.

F8 | S4 | A1.5
7.5/10 Caesars

Berowra Waters Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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9 comments on “Berowra Waters Inn | Sydney North”

  1. Padaek Reply

    Literally works of art, and I’m certain they all taste as good as they look. Spectacular location too. Great post Michael!

  2. missklicious Reply

    such a gorgeous location! and the food looks spectacular. Must pay a visit for a special occasion – I’ve only gazed longingly across whilst doing bushwalks in the area haha

    • Michael Shen Reply

      This is possibly one of the most special venues I can think of in Sydney – as special, if not more so than Quay! Definitely for a once in a blue moon occasion – but no reason why you can’t go casually!

    • Michael Shen Reply

      Ooft, if you can’t take seafood, I can imagine most fine dining wouldn’t work out very well for you. Not even BWI would be able to save you there! That said, they may be able to do alternative options?

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