Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog


Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog


Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Biota Dining, Bowral

This whole Noma movement has taken the world by storm. Who would have ever imagined to go along the road, dig out the first green thing you see and eat it. Sounds like what a two year old would do. Like a recipe to get a drug induced high more so than gastronomic enlightenment. And yet we have restaurants all over the world basing their entire concept on the art of foraging.

Biota Dining is one of these restaurants but its success is a testament that this concept works. Having won Regional Restaurant of the Year, Biota is treasured as a jewel of Bowral and is a destination in its own right. 

People can stay over night at their motels and wake up and kick back in one of their multiple beautifully ornate lounges. Located in the countryside of Bowral, botanical produce is the focus here. Ducks and geese frolic happily amongst their little garden patch but I doubt they know most of the wonder lies indoors.  

Spring Punch 9
Driving. Sober. Fun. Nah it's fine, it just means mocktails all the way. The waiter fixes me up with a cooling and invigorating combo of sweet apple, mint and elderflower which hits the spot on a warm day.

Trout Jerky
The orangey opaque trout jerky was a great way to start. Smoky. Chewy. Salty. Fishy. Fun. 

Wholemeal Sourdough and Smoked Butter
Bread arrives in a cool little pouch to keep it warm. It's not your typical sourdough as it's more of a whole meal in texture but we ending up going through multiple serves of gently smoked butter (typical) cause it was just plain delicious.

cucumber - native lime - oysters - bronze fennel
A beautifully presented cold dish starts off the degustation. You get the sweet saltiness of the raw oyster and the foamy oyster cream and marry it with the gentle coolness of various cucumber forms... then bam you're hit with the beach mustard. In a dish all about subtlety and quiet genius, it just feels like the clashing bitterness of beach mustard entirely throws the balance out.

Chickpea Shoots
We can't help but be a little intrigued when a pot of chickpea shoots lands on our table with not a word. Soon after, our dish arrives and we're told to garnish it with a few sprigs. Our eyes begin gleam with wonder over something so simple. 

egg yolk - cooked curds - rye - chickpea
A twirling layer of pasta sheet completely envelopes barely cooked curds which provides a nice creaminess but the real wizardry happens when you cut through the gooey egg yolk which then makes its way around the crooks and crannys of the bottarga and crunchy rye. One bite is enough to send one into utter foodie bliss.

smoked kingfish - veal tendons - kelp juices - radish
Yum. Probably my favourite dish of the day, you get slices of thin neutral radish which blanket raw snapper cubes and gelatinous sheets of veal tendon. I'm fixated on those green slivers of seaweed (next to the nasturtiums) on top which have this utterly fascinating saltiness with a grape like texture. It gives the dish seasoning as well as an sophisticated out-of-the-sea oomph.

hen wings - spruce - raw mushrooms - creamed corn
Next up is a similarly tantalizing trio of a sheet of raw mushroom, lucidly yellow sweet corn puree and a soft and buttery boned hens wing. Whilst the charred barley gave it a nice flavour, the needle-like stems were a little too prickly for my liking. 

beef - molasses - native berries - beach mustard
Urgh beach mustard again. You'd think the bolder meat pairing along with the toasty notes of leek might be able to stand up against it but we just ended up putting the leaves to the side. But then the dish is instantly brilliant. The beef is tender and flavoursome, the leek is smoky and charred but it's the addition of 'native berries' that's a revelation with its punctuations of sweet acidity that liven up the dish.

Pre-dessert does exactly what it says. It's ultra refreshing soft apple jellies, bolstered by the cool touch of yoghurt sorbet and earthy complex crunchiness of various seeds. 

blueberries - verbana sorbet - vanilla creme - iced chlorophyll
I'm loving this dessert with the whole approach to textures. Barely ripe and crisp blueberries and chantilly cream make magic on the plate, along with the perfumed floral sorbet and shards of meringue. Icy cool chlorophyll kisses this dish with a mellow herbatious note, lifting an already great dish. Still, I'm hit with a little envy as a giant pot of liquid nitrogen lands on the table next to us for their Mum's Roses dessert.

Cheese Board 32
Because we haven't had cheese in a long long a while and I sure aint never driving down to and from an hour and a half for a long long while, we finish our meal off with cheese. Favourite of the day has to be the manchego with the candied carrot marmalade. Honestly however, probably not the most exciting cheese plate I've had.

Service went by with smart elegance. The food isn't perfect with glaring texture and flavour balance issues. However, Biota cooking at its best represents a fusion of precision cooking, contemporary techniques and a respect for ingredients to meet intriguing results. You can easily conclude that being located away from the confines of the urban city liberates minds. 

Head chef James Viles clearly is a man who takes great pride in the countryside and it shows on the plate where he instinctively uses ingredients based on seasons and plates up with the best of them. Biota Dining is the sort of place that fascinates and delights travellers, one that brings the Southern Highlands to greater heights.

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Have always wanted to dine here! The trout jerky sounds delish!

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No, we aren't the most amazing gastronomes or chefs. Heck, half our team doesn't even know how to cook... well. However, what we really love is eating. And lots of it. We enjoy that occasional freebie, filling up that craving for a midnight snack and finding a 20 in our pockets that we thought we never had, and using that as an excuse to go out eating. As we battle the ongoing war on uni student poverty, we'll bring you the most swoon worthy recounts of our latest foodie adventures.

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