Set in the misty, rolling pastures of the Southern Highlands, Berrima is a village so picturesque that it seems to exist in another century altogether. In one of these quaint and unassuming heritage buildings you’ll find Eschalot, a restaurant famed for its stunning modern regional cuisine.
The historic 19th century sandstone cottage has been beautifully furnished in neutral tones: a luxurious mix of timber, textured fabrics and minimal artworks set the ideal backdrop for the elegant dishes. Each room offers an intimate atmosphere – nestle by the open fire in winter or soak up the beauty of the flourishing garden in the spring and summer.
Owner and Chef, Richard Kemp, draws inspiration from European regional cuisines to deliver delicacies that focus on flavour, texture and colour. The quality may be on par with the top city restaurants, but each dish has a distinctive nod to the Southern Highlands.
Richard’s emphasis on high quality local produce led him to establish the kitchen garden nine years ago. Now fully established, it provides the chefs with most of their seasonal vegetables, greens and herbs. Two greenhouses help shield seedlings and delicate produce from the chilly Southern Highlands winter, ensuring that the plants thrive all year round. The waste from the kitchen is composted to enrich the gardens, and water is supplied by an underground well on the property.
This produce is carefully prepared to showcase its quality and characteristic flavours. Start with one of the seasonal entrees, such as the roasted quail breast paired with a quail scotch egg and brassicas from the garden; or the delicate tea-smoked mackerel with clam chowder, corn and pickled pearl onions. For an indulgent dining experience, it’s hard to look past the sumptuous seared foie gras with orange-spiked chestnuts and rye bread slathered in smoked butter.
Move on to the mains menu, and you’ll find the confit mushrooms, native thyme cream, shiitake mushrooms and toasted pine, and the rare venison loin matched with Jerusalem artichoke, roasted witlof and a persimmon preserve. If you’re looking to sample the signature dishes, you’ll find that Eschalot’s loyal customers have fought to keep their long time favourites on the menu. The twice-baked goat’s cheese souffle with aerated fig leaf, roasted figs, truffle honey and pear is a highlight, while the confit leg and roasted breast of Thirlmere duck, served with turnip puree, egg and turnip ravioli, and lavender has stood the test of time. The dark chocolate brûlée with zesty mandarin and grapefruit is irreplaceable – you’ll see why after just one bite.
Over the last 13 years, Eschalot has curated a spectacular cellar, encompassing both internationally renowned wines as well as the work of small and local winemakers. The selection has been critically recognised, earning a two-glass rating in both the 2015 Gourmet Traveller Australian Wine List of the Year Awards and the 2015 Fine Wine Partners Awards. Eschalot also offers BYO wine from Wednesday to Friday so you can bring your favourite drop with you.
Combining the finesse of city cuisine with the charming atmosphere and outstanding produce of Berrima, Eschalot is the perfect expression of Southern Highlands dining.