“An avant-garde approach to food, showcasing some of the Southern Highlands and Australia’s best produce” and “Modernism mixed with a little orthodox”. These are the opening propositions of a menu that is intended to provide diners with unique local flavours of Bowral, a mere hour-and-a-half south west of Sydney.
Located a mere 5-minute drive from Bowral town centre, Centennial Vineyards is convenient for visitors who are keen to taste some wine and sample some fine local produce at their award-winning restaurant.
Centennial Vineyards range include the cool climate Bong Bong, Woodside and Centennial wines. Perched on a slightly elevated position, the restaurant and winery command a overview of its vineyards below and the beautiful colours of autumn greeted us during our visit this Easter.
The cellar door is a cosy room adorned with a whimsical art-piece to tease the palate of wine tasting enthusiasts.
The dining room of Centennial Vineyards Restaurant is a rustic with cosy, country charm. We booked our table early as previous attempts were futile as the restaurant was fully-booked on those occasions. The menu offers two and three courses for $60 and $70 respectively. We opted for the ala carte menu as the choices were wider and price range did not differ significantly from the fixed course offerings.
For entree, I chose the Pithivier of Burrawong quail. This dish came with a roasted quail wing sitting on a golden brown pastry of pancetta and black Tuscan cabbage. The soft lentils (not visible in the photo), celeriac cream were gently warm and complemented the root vegetables of baby carrot, baby chervil and onion dust. The pastry was crisp with pancetta aromas.
Mysaucepan ordered the pave of Thirlmere duck which came with compressed roasted pistachio and shredded leg confit, liver pate, green peppercorn jelly and a waffer of crispy duck scratching, crisp candy bacon and curly endive salad. The liver pate was soft, bold and flavoursome and the crispy duck scratching and candy bacon offered the much needed textural crunch. These were two outstanding entrees which whet our appetites for the mains which unfortunately took more than an hour later to arrive despite a lunch session where numerous empty tables remained so throughout.
Mysaucepan’s New England tablelands lamb was topped with spiced dukkah, Rosemary and thyme jus. The succulent meat was accompanied by smokey eggplant puree, roasted eggplant and pomegranate salad, crunch fennel seed, cous cous zucchini flower, Dauphnoise potato and candy sherry vinegar shallots.
I ordered the Highland Tova Platinum of beef fillet which was a thick medellion of pan fried southern highland grass-fed beef fillet that came with a light fluffy Welsh rare-bit crust, brown butter spinach with crispy pancetta, roasted carrots, kipfler potato planks, Yorkshire pudding and onion jam. Being an old-fashioned meat guy, I scrapped off the sweet onion jam and concentrated on the meat which was slightly overdone against my medium-rare request. The meat was nevertheless flavoursome and tender and the potato planks soaked up the beef jus.
We found both mains a little over-complicated with the flavours all its accompaniments despite their freshness. Beef and lamb of this quality can easily stand-alone but I understand the economics of country restaurants to justify their price points with perceived value.
Overall, the food was good but our experience was dampened by service which can be improved by a few notches.
Centennial Vineyards Restaurant
252 Centennial Road
Bowral, New South Wales 2576
(02) 4861 8701
I’ve been wanting to have afternoon tea here. The pithvier of Burrawong quail looks lovely. Don’t you hate it when the service affects your dining experience, it’s the worst.
The service was pretty poor and they weren’t even full as they claimed when we booked over the phone.
I am a grown-up, truly I am, and yet I can’t help but grin at a name like Bong Bong. One day I’ll actually grow up, I’m sure.
Anything that is served with a crispy duck scratching and candy bacon is alright by me, though I think I would have been doing some scratching around myself if I had to wait an hour for my main dish 😐
Yup, it’s true. It’s not a bad drop so try it and keep the bottle for laughs.
The food looks excellent, especially the pithivier as I always love a bit of pastry 😀
I love the picture of the Vineyard – so beautiful! 😀
The restaurant interior looks really nice! Also, the food looks great, but I can understand what you said about the overload with flavors. (When I read what an assortment of side dishes came your beef, I thought, woah, that’s a lot! ;)) I’m a very simple girl food-wise and like to just have a good steak with a salad. Good meat that it nicely done can really stand for itself.
I’m pretty simple too. Forget the salad, just give me the meat!
A beautiful place and a delightful meal! I love vineyards in fall.
The scenery is just gorgeous and I love that cozy dining room! The food sounds delicious too, espeically the New England tablelands lamb.
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What a warm and inviting dining room. Sorry the service wasn’t up to snuff, but that lamb definitely looks to die for. 😉
Thank you for stopping by the other day.You have a lovely space.This looks like a beautiful and fun place.The pictures are lovely.
You’ve visited so many good country restaurants in your travels. It’s interesting to compare the slightly ornate dishes here with the trendy city bistros that serve just a couple of ingredients on a wooden board 😉 And like everyone else, I think the pithiver looks great!
Our visits have given us some perspective as to how good and honest some country restaurants are. Some offer very innovative and cutting-edge menus without the big city price tag. I believe visitors to these beautiful places should try these local flavours and experience the talent of local chefs.
As food bloggers, our responsibility is to discover and highlight these special places for the benefit of food lovers.
what a pretty scenic place to lunch at :O)
One of my favorite things to do is enjoy a new restaurant with friends. Its unfortunate the service was lacking. Looks like the food was delicious though.
I love your descriptions of the food – I can almost taste it. It sounds like a good place to try even if the service could be improved.