A few weeks ago, some friends and I headed to Berrima in NSW (1.5 hour drive north of Canberra) for birthday lunch #3. Eschalot Restaurant has won multiple awards as you can see once walking into the reception area including retaining one chef’s hat in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide.
We were shown into a small dining room with a few other tables set up and a fireplace. We had this lovely view looking out the window onto the vegetable patch (can’t get fresher produce than that) and the Berrima Courthouse Museum.
We were all pleasantly surprised to receive an amuse bouche of a chilli fennel croquette with house smoked paprika mayonnaise. Served on a small plate of stones, the dish had a nice earthy look to it making the bright colour of the croquette really pop.
For my entree, I ordered the broad bean and green pea risotto, green tea parfait, aerated milk and tendrils ($22). The risotto was cooked perfectly and had so much flavour I could have just eaten it on its own. The beans and peas added colour and crunch to the dish. There was a lump of cheese sitting in the middle of the risotto which slowly melted as I stirred it through. A nice dish though I could not taste the green tea aspect.
For my main, I chose from Eschalot’s Favourites menu and ordered the thirlmere duck – confit duck leg, sous vide breast, prune, shallot and black pudding ($38). Some of my duck-loving friends did not choose this dish as the black pudding turned them off. I have recently come to like black pudding so I was happy to try it. I love the sous vide technique which meant that the duck breast was still soft, slightly pink and so easy to cut through and eat. Lots of concentrated flavour too. The duck leg was medium in size and easy to pull apart. It tasted a lot more gamey than the breast. Since I tried the duck breast first, I found the leg was not as good or melt-in-your-mouth soft. But there was a good contrast of both. Along with the black pudding, I found the dish was getting too ‘meaty’ for me. I was glad for the prunes which helped cut through the rich meat flavours but would have liked some solid vegetables with the dish.
Mr STTA ordered the gluten free beef wellington – tenderloin, shimeji mushroom, spinach, fillo and terrine de foie ($40). It usually comes with a large thin pastry covering the entire plate but this was the gluten free version.
For dessert, I ordered the the frozen mango slice with sesame brittle and lime sherbert ($16). This was basically a mango parfait that was accompanied by fresh mango and passion fruit pulp. The lime sherbert was in the foam on top and added extra zing to the dessert. The sesame brittle was a nice touch offering a different kind of sugary sweetness and a crunchy texture. The birthday candle and writing in chocolate was a lovely gesture.
I was curious to see what Mr STTA had ordered as it was my second choice dessert. The warm and frozen corn with meringue and caramel popcorn ice cream ($16). The ‘warm’ corn was a corn puree (the bright yellow part in the dish) that was sweet and yes, warm. The frozen corn was the yummy popcorn ice cream. Broken meringue is sprinkled throughout adding a touch more sweetness to balance the warm corn. Not a dessert I have ever come across, I thought this was a unique and clever dish.
Eschalot restaurant has a calmness and tranquility to it all set in a small historic country town. I can imagine how cosy it would be in winter with the fireplace lit up. Service was professional and friendly with a bit of chatter which was noticeably different to our experience at Tetsuya’s the day before. The pace of the food being served was good in that we didn’t wait too long or were rushed between courses.
Value for money 7.5/10
FPJ score 23.5/30
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