Continuing on with the Blue Mountains reviews from last week…well, there’s only two actually; we only spent two evenings in the mountains – a short and sweet stay, just enough to fill our lungs with the refreshing mountain air and to feel a little more human after the buzz of the city.
Dinner for our first evening was actually in the dining room of our guesthouse: Restaurant Nineteen23 in the Silvermere guesthouse. It’s a bed and breakfast, self-contained accommodation and fine dining experience rolled into the one 1920’s themed country estate, perched on a hill a short while away from the idyllic peace of Wentworth Falls.
If you stay at the Silvermere Guesthouse on a Thursday, Friday or Sunday evening, they have a special dinner bed and breakfast package which includes the price of a two course a la carte meal that can be upgraded to a degustation or a three course meal on the night. While we originally had our eye on the degustation, it looked overwhelmingly generous and so we opted for the a la carte: 2 courses at $55 and 3 courses at $70.
We were seated in what you could call the “lounge room” of the guesthouse, where there was only one other family of four dining at the table next to us in the room. I’m not sure if it was because the dining room next door was already full (or maybe they were general public, rather than guests) but it seemed to be a little noisy and so we were thankful for a quieter, more peaceful dining setting.
The menu is specific to what’s available on that day – we checked in a couple of hours earlier and were told that a preview of the menu was not yet available as it was still being printed. That’s fresh for you!
We start with an amuse bouche – from memory, fried brioche with tomato chutney and anchovy. A classic combination, it’s quite salty and the bread has a deeply satisfying crunch that would scare your doctor.
We are then brought a slice of warm sourdough each with butter and a small dish of mixed olives.
The Sister’s entree arrives prettily presented, like a spring garden. She had ordered the Pine nut and raisin stuffed turkey leg ballantine with heirloom carrots, cranberry red currants, fennel and radish salad.
The turkey was lean yet juicy and flavoursome; the slightly gamey flavour lightened by the little tidbits of radish and fennel dotting the plate. The combination with the cranberry and the decoration gave it a very festive air.
I had the Pink salmon and green apple tartare, avocado, toasted sunflower kernels, sprouts, trout roe and soured dill cream.
While it might not look like much, this tasted extraordinary. Light, nutty, crunchy, soft, silken, savoury and sweet all at once. Silky, fresh snapper pieces chopped into miniscule little cubes, with zesty bits of green apple, the creamy-yet-lightweight avocado and dill cream, the pop and burst of trout roe and the glorious nuttiness from the sunflower kernels and sprouts.. It’s not a combination I’ve ever seen, and it was so unique.
Of course, this set a standard for the rest of our meal. I had originally been tempted by the 200g 9+ Blue Mountains Wagyu Sirloin, but there was a $40 supplement. For a small 200g of steak, that was pushing it for me. I decided to go with the Slow-roasted rack and shoulder of Cowra lamb, globe artichokes, peas, preserved tangelo, charred lettuce, potato mille feuille and Jannei Goats curd.
There’s a certain charm to eating a beast cooked in more than one way; for me, I believe it shows respect, gratitude and consideration – appreciating the different parts of the animal and the best ways in which you can showcase the various flavours and textures that can be evoked. So there was obviously a significant difference in texture and flavour between the slow-roasted rack and the shoulder. The rack was lean and juicy, with a bit of chewy bite; while the shoulder was tender, falling-apart on my fork and melt-in-the-mouth. Enjoy with the milk of its cousin, that luscious goats curd, and your healthy greens. Charred lettuce I can give or take, but potato mille feuille will always claim my heart. Nothing like translucent slices of potato sandwiched together with lashings of butter before being baked to a crisp.
I enjoyed my lamb with a glass of the Grove Estate “The Cellar Block” Shiraz Viognier from Young, NSW 2012 ($13). The wine list is full of local producers – something that is so good to see and taste.
The Sister chose the Pan-roasted Salmon with Prawn and Ginger Stuffed Eggplant, Gai Lan, Braised Pork Belly, Chilli Oil and Black Vinegar.
From the description, the plate sounded chock-a-block, almost like a surf and turf of sorts. The pork belly was only two slices though, tucked under the salmon – so don’t feel too overwhelmed. For me, the dish was predictable; probably because I’m Asian and so I wasn’t overly-impressed with the flavours of the chilli oil, black vinegar and soy. The salmon, while well-cooked and pink in the middle, I think would have been nicer with a crisp skin. The pork belly was also well-cooked, not oily on the tongue or chewy. But the both of us enjoyed the prawn and ginger stuffed eggplant – the centre of the braised eggplant hollowed out and stuffed with pieces of tender pieces of chopped prawn, the flavour lightened with ginger – that was something new to us.
Time for dessert – one of my favourite times in life. Our desserts arrive beautifully presented as has everything this evening. I couldn’t wait to taste my Zokoko Bitter Chocolate Sponge with Coffee Cream, Milk Chocolate Mousse, Caramelised Banana, Rhubarb Puree and Roasted Banana Ice Cream.
The chocolate sponge was as soft as a slice of pillowy chiffon cake. Everything around it was equally as wonderful, with a velvety smooth, lightweight chocolate mousse, slices of fresh banana with their surfaces crisply glazed like a mini-creme brulee, the rhubarb puree tangy and mouth-watering. The banana ice cream was nicely and subtly flavoured.
The Sister’s dessert didn’t have as many elements, but that didn’t make it any less lovely. The Vanilla bean parfait with raspberries, raspberry sorbet and lemon biscuit crumb looked like a lazy summer afternoon dream on a plate.
Raspberries and cream is one of the best sweet combinations of all-time. The vanilla bean parfait tasted like a raspberry ripple ice cream, albeit a sophisticated, adult version.
Nineteen23 is a beautiful, welcoming restaurant with an other-world charm and grace that you can only source in the Mountains. As their site states, their aim is to “use local and regional produce to deliver a wholesome, fine dining experience, without the Sydney price tag” – and I think they are doing extremely well at that.
1 Lake Street
Wentworth Falls NSW 2782
0488 361 923