At the heart of the philosophy of Berowra Waters Inn restaurant is the notion of providing an ‘experience’. Nestled deep into the bushland of Sydney’s North-West on the banks of the Hawksebury River, it is an escape from daily life like no other. Our boatman, who has been driving the boat for eleven years, has seen the restaurant change hands several times, with each successor bringing something different to the glass-fronted, sandstone-bricked venue.
The restaurant is currently headed by Brian Geraghty, who boasts a resume including stints overseas in London’s Pied a Terre with Shane Osborn, as well as at Quay and three-hatted Bilson’s.
“Everywhere you go, you develop a small bit of the story. As time goes on, that becomes your story…it all becomes a tapestry of your own skill,” Geraghty says, of his past work experiences.
Berowra Waters Inn’s cuisine is a culmination of the myriad of influences on Geraghty, featuring modern Australian cuisine with a fusion of French and Japanese cuisine, delivered in a 6 course degustation menu.
It’s certainly a challenging place to run a restaurant – not many places deliver produce to such an isolated venue and rogue goannas have been known to drop in the kitchen from time to time – but there’s an isolated serenity about the venue that is meditative, and gives you a true sense of escape. The kitchen staff are clearly a very tight-knit team who work closely and efficiently together, along with a serving staff who were extremely friendly and mindful of fine detail. We really enjoyed watching people arrive glamorously by seaplane – if you’re looking to go all out for something special, it definitely looked like a fun way to get to the restaurant.
Berowra Waters Inn also caters for vegetarians, with an entirely vegetarian alternative to the standard degustation menu available upon request. According to my dining companion, it was also very good.
We began with the amuse bouche, which was the chicken liver parfait, served in a delicately crumbly shortbread tart shell. The filling was quite neutral in flavour, mostly as a base for the fried garlic slivers and the sweet sultanas. There were two gigantic sultanas for such a tiny bite, and overpowered the balance a little.
I have to say one of the biggest surprises was the treacle butter, which I would happily buy in bulk AND eat raw. The texture of the butter is so light and fluffy that it’s almost mousse-like and the incredibly subtle sweetness and creaminess of the butter comes out the longer it lingers in your mouth.
For those who have to drive or simply prefer the non-alcoholic option to the extensive drinks menu, Berowra Waters Inn serves a range of excellent mocktails – we had a very refreshing mango, coconut and blood orange soda cocktail and another cocktail that incorporates lime and citrus flavours.
The beautifully presented cured trout had dense texture, offset by dots of avocado cream and a dark sauce that tasted like a very concentrated katsu sauce, full of sweet and smoky barbecue flavours. I’m usually staunchly anti-coriander but the coriander stems in this case undercut the richness of the trout and added a fresh note to the flavour profile, playing against the sweetness of the sauce. In a way, I almost wish the trout was slightly colder than room temperature so the sauces could have a chance to shine.
The scallops were definitely the highlight of the degustation for me and absolutely worth the trip. Beautifully tender with a crisp, seated top, the flavour profile of the dish was truly unique and complimented the scallop so well – the smoky notes in the milk and dashi broth and the creamy white smoked cream enhanced the natural taste of the meat. The sweet, acidic tang of clear gel added some variety to the flavours, and seafood notes of the dish were reinforced by the crispy, smoky prawn chip used as a garnish.
You wouldn’t think pairing smoky bacon flavours with peas and cod would be a thing but it is as the French do; the cod is a dish based on the petit pois a la francaise. It helps that the cod was incredibly well cooked – succulent and fresh, with no hint of fishiness – it that acted as a sort of canvas for the competing flavours of a slightly sweet, dense pea purée and the smoky bacon purée, with the textural contrast of the crust ovr the top. The overall impression of flavour is that of fresh vegetable flavours
If you’re a fan of aged beef, the beef main in the degustation is the dish for you. It almost had a cheese-like flavour, with a very dense, meaty umami and a slow-cooked texture that just falls apart with a bit of a fork poke. If that’s not enough of a flavour explosion, the dish also incorporates vivid acidic flavours through the clear tarragon vinegar gel and the pickled radish that added a tangy crunch.
Our palate cleanser before dessert was a coconut posset with coconut cream and cucumber, which is essentially a panacotta but created with citrus and not cream. This was honestly one of my favourite dishes, almost like a mousse instead of cream and full of light, summery and refreshing flavours.
The goats cheese and beetroot dessert is definitely an acquired taste, almost experimental in nature. The beetroot sorbet and goats cheese, wrapped in a beetroot gel, grounded the dessert in flavours that were vaguely savoury with slight vegetable notes. I usually can’t stand liquorice so I was very apprehensive about the chewy liquorice soil peppering the dish but, surprisingly, it grew on me the more I ate – the rhubarb puree helped bring out the sharp, sweet, slightly fruity notes to the soil. This is still one of those desserts you may either love or hate but I will give it a plus for actually allowing me to stomach liquorice.
The chocolate dessert is definitely the more conservative dessert, and is a study in the consistencies of chocolate: the dense hazelnut cream log encased in a delicate chocolate case, the cold quenelle of chocolate ice cream on a lightly crunchy chocolate soil with a hint of dark chocolate bitterness, and the rich and creamy chocolate mousse encased in a burnt caramel tuille. The only thing that didn’t quite work for me was the apricot jam, which was a little too sweet to cut through the chocolate.
Our petit fours were a sugared fruit jelly, a lemon curd tart and berry cupcake, which were all bursting with sweet and tart flavours. Definitely get this with non-sweetened tea or coffee to balance out the sweetness.
We managed to catch the tail end of Berowra Waters’ Spring menu but the summer menu at Berowra Waters Inn looks just as promising – full of light flavours that capitalise on the flavours of the season, including pear, coconut and Thai-inspired flavours.
If you have a special occasion coming up or want a weekend getaway to disconnect and soak up the beauty of nature, Berowra Waters Inn is a fine dining experience like no other.
Berowra Waters Inn
Public Wharves, Berowra Waters, Berowra, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9456 1027
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of Berowra Waters Inn