The best meal of 2020 so far. Possibly the most underrated restaurant in Sydney. Contemporary Australian with a set menu and a personal boatman.
MENU HIGHLIGHTS Every single dish…but especially the crab steamed custard; Geraldton wax and lemon myrtle ice cream; and the Toohey’s dessert
AMBIANCE Water-access-only romantics and city escapees
WOULD I GO BACK? Absolutely
A visit to Berowra Waters Inn is one of those experiences you will not easily forget. It’s a destination restaurant, which you need to plan your day around. I went for dinner in winter, and there’s no doubt you’ll need a coat and an umbrella for the journey across the water.
The pass peers out at the centre of the room so, like the fringe seats at the opera, you can see into the kitchen from different angles depending on where you’re sitting along the line of window tables.
The restaurant can only be accessed by taking the restaurant’s own dingy (complimentary boat transfer) from either the Berowra Water East or West Wharf. Or by seaplane. Your call.
The winter menu at Berowra Waters Inn is the best $165 you will spend on a meal almost anywhere in Sydney. You get so much more than the six courses you pay for. Ticking all the boxes of anything you’ve ever asked for in a high-end restaurant: complimentary snacks, palate cleansers and petit fours.
A harpsichord plays softly in the background as though we were in a British parlour of the 1800s. It’s delightfully unobtrusive.
An important part of everything you want at a special restaurant is a special beginning.
We paid an extra $20 for these amazing oysters, dressed up fashionably with pepperberry. This is a trend I haven’t got sick of yet.
The complimentary parts of the meal were highlights. The first palate cleanser was a smoked sea urchin crème fraîche with Tasmanian sorrel granita and topped with trout roe.
The mini brioche buns are warm and served with whipped treacle butter that was aerated and not too rich. I could have eaten ten of these.
The Kingfish was a fresh way to start, sliced into thin slivers but deceptively (and cleverly) presented as a consolidated prism. The fish was surrounded by pink finger lime and Geraldton wax. The latter is such an under-utilised ingredient and it’s full of flavour that’s hard to describe. Perhaps halfway between lemon myrtle and rosemary.
The second course sends buttery pleasure through your veins. Crab custard and roasted onion is a luxurious chawanmushi. The yellow sauce isn’t all butter but the custard is so soft and topped with stock and crab and miso…it’s warm, rich and sweet from the crab. This was the best savoury course of the evening and even beats the chawanmushi at Quay.
Blue Nose Whiting with broccoli and pine nuts is one of the two main dishes. It’s got all the elements to tick your boxes – crispy skin, a flavoursome and green sauce with some crunch from the toasted pine nuts.
Beef, potato and nettle is a plate constituting Rangers Valley rump cap fat purée, stinging nettle sauce and eucalyptus butter.
Australian blue cheese with green tomato chutney and roasted honey turned out to be a semi-hard cheese that was nice, but probably not worth the $22 add-on fee.
Thin ribbons of melon and a clean mint sorbet, with a bergamot gel and ‘jus’, was the freshest of all the courses. I have opened my mind to green desserts, which are delightful when done well like this, spotted with caraway seeds on a bed of sour yoghurt.
I am devastated to have forgotten to take a photo of another pre-dessert palate cleanser. It was a Geraldton wax lemon myrtle ice cream, smoked with paperbark. It was one of the most delicious spoonfuls of ice cream I have ever tasted.
Tooheys Old & Malt is an intriguing name for a dessert and, to be honest, one of the few combinations I do not like in the world of food is alcohol in desserts. (I even make my tiramisu using coffee and no Marsala.) This is the first dessert I have ever eaten to change my mind. In fact, it was one of the highlights of the meal. A decadent and clever way to round off the degustation.