Biota and Eshalot awarded hats in the 2013 Good Good Guide


My taste buds always get excited when The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide comes out. The 2013 list has just been released this week with Biota Dining (Bowral) receiving two hats and Eschalot (Berrima) receiving one hat. Biota also received an award for sustainability.

The Good Food Guide reviewers also dished on their favourite finds, with two mentions for the Southern Highlands.

Longest drive for great French food

To Berrima for Eschalot’s parisienne gnocchi made on choux pastry dough sauced with beurre noisette.

Most surprising (and best regional, for me)

”Lon” John Dory and steamed pandanus leaf with lime-flavoured tapioca jelly at Classical Thai Cravings, Mittagong.

Sadly, Classical Thai Cravings closed its doors suddenly a few months ago, with the owners returning to Thailand for family reasons. It was a regular favourite of mine.


Prince Albert Inn – a pleasant evening out in Braemar


A gorgeous old sandstone building and friendly staff made for a pleasant trip to the Prince Albert Inn in Braemar on Saturday night.

Built during the early Victorian period, its architecture is an excellent example of a highly intact two storey early Colonial Georgian Inn. You can’t miss it as you exit the freeway into the Southern Highlands.

After a major restoration, it recently opened back up with a restaurant and accommodation. We have been wanting to eat there since …… and now we have!

I started with the vodka and lime cured salmon with enoki mushrooms, blue swimmer crab and cucumber – a really fresh entree with lots of yummy flavours. I didn’t really notice the flavour of the crab, but it didn’t matter as it was a great way to start a meal.

My husband tried the twice baked goat cheese soufflé with fennel and hazelnut, which had lots of nice flavours too.

For my main meal, I was tempted by the Mittagong tunnel mushroom risotto with truffle oil. It was a simple, but hearty dish to fill me up for a winter’s evening. My husband chose the 12 hour braised shoulder of lamb with creamed celeriac and mustard fruits. The meat was cooked to perfection, but the dish itself was lacking a few flavours.

While I wouldn’t put the food into the outstanding category, it was certainly lovely and we enjoyed all of our dishes. It is fully licensed so no BYO, but the wine list seems reasonable and a good selection.

It is also opened for breakfast and lunch as well, so check out the website for further details.

You can even pop in for a drink on the balcony without dining as well, so plenty of options available.

Biota Dining in Bowral – I’ll be visiting you very soon


I am dying to try Biota Dining in Bowral ……… there I said it!

I read the menu yesterday and have been hungry ever since. My parents tried it a week ago and loved it – and now I am deeply jealous.

Biota Dining is the creation of well respected restaurateur from Sydney, James Viles. Recently opened in Bowral next to the Manning Hotel, Biota Dining offers two dining options – tapas in a lounge environment or a gastronomy menu in the dining area. Both I am sure are amazing!

What impresses me is that Biota Dining uses mainly local produce, as well as growing their own fresh produce in an onsite glasshouse.

Biota Dining is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner most days and is closed on Tuesdays. Check the website for trading hours on each day as it does vary.

Can’t wait to try it! Will let you know when I eventually get there.

Berrima’s Eschalot – sadly didn’t live up to high expectations


After hearing so many wonderful things about Eschalot in Berrima and waiting over two years to eat there, my husband and I finally dined there last Friday night for our 6th wedding anniversary.

Sadly though we were rather disappointed, as we had such high expectations. The food was “nice” but not “wow”. With the built up expectation and the price tag, we were expecting “wow”.

Perhaps it was an off night or the head chef not there, who knows? My parents eat there often and were also disappointed that our experience hadn’t matched theirs as they love it there.

On paper the food lived up to expectations, with lobster, seared scollops, foie gras and the like on the menu to tempt the taste buds. Presentation wise the food looked amazing, but each dish lacked flavour and punch. As I said, it was nice but nothing special. We have eaten at many fine dining restaurants in Sydney and were expecting a similar quality.

The creme brulee was amazing though – yummo! It was certainly the highlight for me and won my heart.

The waiters were lovely and very attentive. Of course you can’t beat the venue in an old sandstone cottage in the heart of historic Berrima.

It is also BYO Wednesday-Friday – always a plus for the cost conscious!

I am glad I can now tick it off my dining list, but unfortunately it won’t be one restaurant we will be rushing back to. Please don’t let it deter you though as it may have just been an off night. It does have all the makings to be a top restaurant, just not the night we visited.

Olive Leaf Cafe in Bowral – kid friendly and yummy food!


The Olive Leaf Cafe is a secret little gem in the heart of Bowral, with yummy food, friendly staff and very kid friendly.

We have been there a few times now and the food has always been delicious, ranging from homemade duck pies to a variety of soups to prawn and leek risottos and much more.

Recently introduced is a kids eat free policy with a menu for the littles including steak, sausages or chicken schnitzel – all with chips. The portions are very generous and the chips are amazing.

To find the Olive Leaf Cafe, it is off the carpark behind Springetts Arcade, located up near Gloria Jeans. Call: (02) 4861 5560.

Well worth checking out – we haven’t been disappointed yet.

Saturday night fun with friends and kids at Mittagong RSL


For any parents looking to get out on a Saturday night with some friends, but have no where to leave the kids. Well I have a solution for you!

Mittagong RSL ……….. OK I hear your saying strange place to take the kids on a Saturday night, but never fear it has a kids club that runs from 5.30-10pm for 2+years. The club is fully secured so our little munchkins can’t get out and no strangers can get in without the help of the club supervisor.

The kids room has games, climbing equipment, TV and toys, along with fun activities like musical chairs. The hard thing is actually getting the kids out of there.

For us to put four kids in for half an hour it was $8. Not sure how much it is for longer, but it isn’t expensive.

So pop into the bistro for a bite to eat with the kids beforehand (keep your expectations purely at an RSL level on the food!), drop the kids into the club and off to the bar for a drink, game of pool and much needed adult conversation.

The Mittagong RSL bar was recently renovated transforming into a modern lounge haven, which will be fabulous in winter with its big fireplaces. Very swish for an RSL indeed! I believe the bistro is next in their sights.

Just another option for some fun on a Saturday night in the Southern Highlands!


Letter to Editor sparks great debate in the Southern Highlands


Well you may have heard, seen on Today Tonight, or read a Letter to the Editor to the Southern Highlands News this week that has sparked great debate in and out of the Southern Highlands.

Mrs J Killington (not real name) wrote an anti-child letter calling for parents to keep kids out of cafes, stating among other points: “Having small humans ruins our social life. We should understand that and stay at home with our friends for coffee/food or we can take them through the drive-through at McDonald’s.”

Let’s just say she has not found too much support – thankfully there are not many small minded people like Mrs Killington in our society. I like to think we live in a progressive society!

** Also read “Anti kids campaigner has an opinion on many things it seems