It’s a gorgeous sunny Sydney Sunday in Autumn. We’re with four treasured friends, who we’ve known for fourteen odd years. Our collective offspring have been appropriately palmed off, the Bolly is chilled, and our driver, Ray, arrives. The cork is popped, giggles ensue, and we relax on the hour long drive up to Berowra Waters Inn. It doesn’t get much better than this. Ray wonders what he’s signed up for, these six laughing maniacs in the back.
We pull up to the restaurant’s private ferry wharf. More giggles now that we’re bubbled up. Tempted to take a bet that one of us falls in the water while trying to get on the boat. But we make it to the tranquil and serene restaurant, manned by Irishman Brian Geraghty, of Quay and Bilson’s pedigree. The room is simple, serene, tranquil, and the staff are similarly serene and welcome us warmly.
The menu is a 7 course degustation, priced at $175, and there is a wine matching option. But, in one of those rarities in fine dining land, they allow BYO (corkage is $30). Ploughing through cobwebs and dust in our basements, we’ve unearthed some smashing vintages. Appropriate, as we discover, for the meal soon to be placed before us. Though ‘meal’ doesn’t quite do it justice. Experience? Indulgence? Irish flight of fancy? Whatever you decide to go with, the standout for all of us was the flavour that is so cleverly packed into every dish. I also loved the beautiful dinnerware that was used, different for each course.
First up, an amuse bouche – tomato sorbet with a tomato jelly, pistachio and rice crumb, and parmesan custard. Start with the refreshing top, then the texture of the rice and pistachio, and then the devine parmesan custard (Brian, would you mind passing on the custard recipe?) – we scraped every bit out of our bowls.
Next the bread is offered – there is an onion brioche which we all love – absolutely gorgeous – and a white sourdough. Served with a tomato butter, which was mild in flavour, I think I would have preferred a top quality rich butter.
Scallop with brandade and cauliflower – a beautiful menagerie of texture
Confit of ocean trout, smoked milk, dashi and lemon foam. The trout itself didn’t measure up to Tetsuya’s (can anyone?) but combination of crunch and flavour was right up there.
Bacon and egg. Not quite the bacon and egg you’ll find at your local café (they really must get with the program), and so very clever. Those super crisp angel hair type fries with the smokey bacon flavour throughout. Pure yum. Breakfast will never be the same.
Sweetbread and pumpkin. Usually when I see sweetbread on the menu I run a million miles and it was time to face up to it. I figured that if I was going to try it anywhere it may as well be with by a chef who’s done the Michelin star restaurant thing. And turns out this was one of my favourite dishes. Again, the kitchen nails it on the flavour and texture front.
Duck, cabbage and pear – the duck piece was underseasoned and we all reached for the salt. But the cabbage salad with macadamia through it, and the cabbage roll with duck were both very tasty.
Prettier than a picture and delicious to boot, goat cheese, beetroot and liquorice. Check out the colour Mother Nature provides.
And to finish, apple and doughnut was what the menu said and another pretty picture arrives on the plate. Caramel sauce, yoghurt, crumble. More more more please!
The extravaganza takes us a leisurely four hours (let them know if you’re on a time constraint). Ray is wondering nervously what his passengers will be like on the return trip. We get the little boat back across the river and meander back to the car.
Clever, beautiful, food in such harmonious surrounds. I’ll be back.
Berowra Waters Inn, Via East and West Public Wharves Berowra Waters, ph +61 2 9456 1027