A few months back, as we were reminiscing our most memorable meals, M.’s parents mentioned how much they had enjoyed their visit at Lochiel House, recently named “Best regional restaurant” and awarded Two Hats by the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2011. They had in fact enjoyed it so much that they decided to take us there a few weeks after that… which we accepted without much resistance.
Thus, on a beautiful Saturday morning, we made our way to Kurrajong Heights, a little town about 80km North-West of Sydney in the Hawkesbury. We arrived about an hour and half later to find a lovely old cottage surrounded by a fragrant garden with flowers, plants and herbs. We were warmly greeted by Monique, who owns the restaurant together with the Chef Tony and were invited to sit at our table, next to an old fireplace. Clumsy as I can be, I succeeded in knocking down a few old fire pokers, resulting in my getting classy sooty hands! All the rooms were decorated with local artists paintings and antique objects.
We were first served some freshly baked home-made bread, still warm from the oven and delicious with the butter.
The entree of Crab salad M’s Dad and I chose was delicious, very fresh and beautiful to look at. I tried to savour it but finished it in no time!
I could just as easily have cleaned off my neighbour’s plate: the little piece of Gnocchi I got to taste was just to die for.
M’s mum was very pleased with the soufflé, very light and full of flavour.
The Pork neck dish she chose for main was also very satisfying, Thai inspired, with a shredded mango salad atop the pork piece and a sweet and spicy accompanying sauce.
M’s Dad chose the fish dish, with which he was very happy.
M. also enjoyed his Okonomiyaki, a Japanese vegetable pancake, even though he would have preferred it a bit crispier.
Meanwhile I was pretty darn ecstatic about my choice of main: a Beef sirloin, cooked perfectly, medium-rare. The Celeriac cake reminded me a bit of a gratin dauphinois except that the layers of celeriac were much, much thinner and regular than a simple potato/celeriac bake, which gave it a great texture!
The Mauri Artavaggio cheese had to be the highlight of the meal for M.’s Dad. It was a bit similar to Taleggio, very creamy and strong in flavour, highlighted by all the sweet little accompaniments in the shape of flowers and fruity bits.
M.’ mum was happy with her dessert, fresh and fruity, with again an Asian influence.
My dessert was also very fresh and light: you can’t go wrong with strawberries and vanilla, it’s always a winning combination! I am also a big fan of meringue, so this dessert ticked all the boxes for me. The addition of a few Tarragon leaves gave it a nice little lift too.
M. was unlucky again as I found his dessert so good I tasted it several times and had to make a big effort on myself to leave him alone. Yum… that pudding!
We could see Monique through the window picking some fresh herbs to garnish the plates. It is quite comforting to see the ingredients being picked from the garden and find them straight after in your plate. You can’t go much fresher than that!
Monique, a native from the Hawkesbury, and Tony make a point of sourcing as many as possible of their ingredients locally and seasonally. Both chefs, trained under prestigious names such as Neil Perry and Kylie Kwong, have kept from their round-the-world travels a philosophy that is all about using local produce and being as self-sustainable as possible.
After we finished lingering with a nice little Cognac and an espresso, we went out the back through the outdoor dining area and have a look at the veggie garden, which looks nice and lush with more herbs and veggies, such as cavolo nero, snow peas, lettuces, broad beans.
To sum it up, an inspiring and delightful experience, which I hope to repeat not too far off in the future. Thank you M.’s parents for inviting us there!
2 courses $62, 3 courses $78 THURSDAY – SATURDAY
2 courses $70, 3 courses $86 SUNDAY & PUBLIC HOLIDAY MENU PRICE WITH SURCHARGE INCLUDED
1259 Bells Line Of Rd
Tel: (02) 4567 7754