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Update: The Kitchen is now called Bendooley Bar & Grill. I have left the name “The Kitchen” in this article, because that’s what it was when I visited.

Berkelouw Book Barn in Berrima has long been a fun place to visit.  The primary reason has been to get lost in the huge collection of antiquarian, rare, secondhand and selected new books. And then there was a cafe, serving light cafe food.  That was OK, but nothing marvellous.  Well all of that has changed following extensive renovations of the property.

The Book Barn has been there since about 1812.  In 2009 the Berkelouw family planted vineyards next to the Book Barn.  Over the last year or so there has been renovations of the Book Barn, and the surrounding property, including the cottage at the entrance to the property.  The Book Barn still retains its charm and character, but has been modified to allow it to be better used as a wedding and event location.  The cafe has been extended and completely upgraded to serve food which is more like a brasserie.  In the process of these changes, the property is now called Bendooley Estate, and the cafe is The Kitchen.

The drive off the Old Hume Highway onto the property is via an avenue of poplars.  And then these poplars below continue past the Book Barn back close to the dam further on back.

Berkelouw Kitchen - book barn

At the front of the Book Barn are these lush plane trees, and really green grass.  Beautiful greens.

Berkolouw Kitchen - trees

Food at The Kitchen

Tables for The Kitchen are scattered around the front entrance to the Book Barn, and then throughout the Book Barn.  It used to be rough rustic, and it still has the charm of the woodwork, but is much more refined.

Berkelouw Kitchen - tables

The lunch menu (the dinner one is similar):

Berkelouw Kitchen - menu

Watching all of the dishes appear in a new cafe / restaurant is always fun, as it was here, to get a feel for how the food all looked.  The wood-fired pizzas looked good, with fine pastry, and lots of good toppings.  All of the serves looked generous.

My choice was the duck confit with Toulouse sausage, white beans, cavalero nero and pickled grapes:

Berkelouw Kitchen - duck

It was everything I hoped it would be, with the rich duck and sausage flavours, the balance between textures in the beans and duck, and the sourness of the pickled grapes balancing against the rich flavours.  I’d have the dish all over again.

My friend ordered the chicken breast and maryland served with fennel and parmesan gratin and thyme jus:

Berkelouw Kitchen - chicken

It was good, but not as special as mine!

We got a bit carried away ordering potato side dishes, ordering both the steamed kipflers with sage butter and the hand cut chips with rosemary salt:

Berkelouw Kitchen - potatoes

Should have ordered one of the salads instead of one of the potato dishes!

The chips were crispy on the outside. Would certainly have those again.  They’re served with the burgers and the steak sandwich, both of which looked scrumptious, piled high on the plates.

My choice for dessert was “passionfruit and almond delicious”:

Berkelouw Kitchen - passionfruit

The dish was very much like a buttery friand texture and taste, with a hint of taste from the wood-fired oven, topped with passionfruit.  Accompanying that was an ice cream with fresh vanilla.  All truly delicious.

Berkelouw Kitchen - cafe

More from around the Book Barn

View from inside the Barn:

Berkelouw Kitchen - window view

Several old book-presses are dotted around the Book Barn, along with still plenty of old books:

Berkolouw Kitchen - views

The upper level which contained some book shelves previously has been removed, exposing the beautiful wood ceiling, opening up the space in the Barn.

Berkelouw Kitchen - inside

There are less bookshelves than previously, but still a good amount of interesting books.  Many of the bookshelves are on casters, to allow them to be rolled back and the space opened up for events.

A huge stone fireplace extends along one wall.  How wonderful would that be in winter!

Berkelouw Kitchen - fireplace

Along the back of the Barn a tasteful extension has been added, including some restrooms (the view from the women’s is expansive, looking across the fields), offices, and rooms for bridal parties.

I’ll certainly be back.  I used to go for the books, but now there is the added drawcard of good food to which to look forward (with good service).  The lush landscaping and the rustic feel of the Barn add to the warmth of the place.

Details

The Kitchen is now called Bendooley Bar & Grill.

Here are the details about The Bendooley Bar & Grill, correct at time of posting. Please check their web site for more current details.

Web site http://www.bendooleyestate.com.au/cafe-berrima
Address Bendooley Estate, 3020 Old Hume Highway, Berrima, NSW, 2577
Phone +612 4877 2235
Open Open 7 days from 10.00am
Lunch Monday – Friday 12:00pm to 2:30pm
Lunch Saturday & Sunday 11:30 to 3:00pm
Menu
The Kitchen, Bendooley Estate on Urbanspoon

This map is not accurate: Bendooley Estate is about 1km down the hill from here, north-east.

Have you revisited a place lately which turned out to be way better than it used to be? Where?

Bistro Rivage, Palm Beach

February 12, 2013 — 4 Comments

By now I’m sure you know that I love French food. Recently at the OpenAir Cinema while waiting in the queue we got chatting to the people next to us in the queue. It turns out that that day they had gone to Palm Beach to Bistro Rivage for breakfast (a specially catered event), and I had gone to Palm Beach, to The Boat House. It’s funny that I have driven right past Bistro Rivage many times, on the bend just before the Palm Beach Golf Club / the park leading up to Barrenjoey. And so I just had to get to Bistro Rivage to see what it was like. How close was it to a French bistro? Was it just a restaurant with French-style food, but not really close to being a French bistro?

Bistro Rivage - outside 2

If you know Palm Beach, I’m sure you recognize this. About 5 months ago Bistro Rivage took over the premises from another restaurant.

Bistro Rivage - outside 1

I didn’t get to the previous restaurant, but I suspect the decor remains as it was.

Bistro Rivage - room

The Food

The meal had to begin with some kir royal. Also served were some baguette slices which were crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.

Bistro Rivage - table

The menu is traditional bistro fare, well balanced to be sure to provide something to suit all palates and levels of hunger.

Today I wanted to sample all three courses, so for Entrée chose the Tranche de Saumon avec Haricot Verts (salmon slice with green beans and sauce tartare).

Bistro Rivage - salmon

The salmon was so light and tender, melting in the mouth, served with a dill-based tartare. Lovely.

The Bistro Rivage mains includes classics Duck Confit and Steak Frites, plus others such as an organic chicken salad in light provencale spices.

Normally if there’s duck on the menu I’ll choose that, but the special dish today was coq au vin. I’ve cooked that and wondered how it would compare.

Bistro Rivage - Coq au Vin

The duck was served as a plate with 4 kipfler potatoes and then with a crock full of the chicken mixture. I spooned some of the chicken and mushrooms and eschallots onto the plate with the potatoes. The dish was as rich-flavoured and luscious as I was hoping. The serve was so generous that I could eat only half.

Now, what to choose for dessert? The tarte tatin was recommended, and I decided to go with that.

Bistro Rivage - tarte tatin

The tarte tatin, accompanied with a vanilla ice cream, was one of the best I’ve eaten in a long time. The apple melted in your mouth, and was wonderfully caramelized. I hesitate to use superlatives because they can set unrealistic expectations, so I’ll just say this: it was very good.

Bistro Rivage - dessert

A suggestion was made to try the RinQuinQuin peach liqueur with the dessert. And I’m so glad I did try it with the dessert and coffee. Sometimes liqueurs and dessert wines can be too sweet, but this was light and a perfect accompaniment to the tarte tatin. Apparently the RinQuinQuin is made by combining white wine with infusions and distillations of peaches and peach leaves, for six months to a year.

The coffee, too, was just what I wanted: good strength long black coffee, strong but not bitter.

Conclusion

Based on one visit only, Bistro Rivage provides traditional French bistro meals, with excellent service. Admittedly it was a quiet day, and so all patrons received plenty of attention. I overheard some people at another table commenting that it was the best meal they’d had in a long time, and these were people who had travelled over the years and knew what to expect in a French meal. I’d agree with them. Now I’d like to return and see what it’s like on a busier day, and to try more items on the menu, with every dish sounding tempting.

Cafe Lyon in Lindfield has bistro-styled food, modernised, also very good. At Bistro Rivage it’s more traditional bistro food.

I hope Bistro Rivage does well. It provides another option for good food on the Pittwater Peninsula, and worth travelling to for some scrumptious French food.

Details

Here are the details about Bistro Rivage at time of posting. Please check their web site for more current details.

Web site http://www.bistrorivage.com.au//
Address 1 Beach Road, Palm Beach, NSW, 2108
Phone +612 9974 1159
Open Friday-Monday: lunch and dinner
Live music Sundays 1-4pm
Menu Entrées: $18.50
Plats: $29.50
Desserts: $14.00
For the details, see the menu.
Bistro Rivage on Urbanspoon


Have you discovered any good French bistros / restaurants lately? Where?