“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