The two-hatted Biota Dining has put Bowral on the map as a foodie destination, just a 90 minute drive away from Sydney in the gorgeously green hills of the Southern Highlands. If you’re like us and want to enjoy Biota’s 5 or 7 course degustation dinner to the max and not have to worry about driving home, Biota has a good value Dine and Stay package which gives you one of their rooms in their adjoining lodge to roll home to after your meal, for just a little bit more than the cost of their degustation (more on this later).
From the moment we step onto their rustic, Scandinavian chic grounds, which includes a mini-farm operation out the back (think clucking chickens and all sorts of edible plants), we know that we’re in for a meal like no other.
We’re happy to report that the chefs at Biota live up to their stated modus operandi, which is to craft menus using whatever is at hand to showcase the region’s fresh produce. Their modern dining room is airy and unpretentious, with a gap in the wall at the end of the room which serves as the kitchen’s pass and gives you a first-hand glimpse into their bustling kitchen as they plate up everything.
We started off with their amuse bouche, which was a dainty dollop of emulsified roe with spring flowers sprinkled on top to make it a rather pretty start to the meal – it was incredibly flavoursome, with a creamy salt cod-like flavour that really got our tastebuds going.
Our waiter then brought out an impressively solid rock and expertly slathered some smoked butter onto it. The close encounters with nature then continued with the arrival of our bread, stored in a fluffy kangaroo skin pouch “to keep it warm” (which it really did!)
A little platter of farm-fresh snacks then followed – the delicate slivers of goose ham were very flavoursome and chewy, while the intriguing berry roll-ups were fruity fresh and were filled with a light, fluffy haloumi cheese.
Goose Ham and Berry Roll-ups with Haloumi Cheese
The journey around the “farm” then continued with an interesting acacia eclair, which was airy and crispy on its own, but took on a whole new salty dimension when dunked into the fresh, warm hens yolk “dip” and swirled around.
Acacia Eclair with Warm Hens Yolk
The first official course was a pretty interpretation of “spring in a bowl” with peas, celery and a dollop of fresh sour cream, which all tasted very “green” together – we have never had peas quite as fresh as these ones and bursting with flavour.
Sour Cream with Peas and Celery
Next up, we had the Murray cod which was cooked over fruit pits in a smoker with a delicate slice of leek resting over it. The cooking process infused the cod with an incredible smokiness and actually ended up making the fish taste quite earthy in a way.
Murray Cod with Leek
The following dish was all about the humble chicken. It looked deceptively simple, but was executed perfectly so that each element was packed full of flavour – from the cured egg yolk with its intriguing gelatinous texture, to the tasty rooster stock, chewy spaghetti, slivers of chicken and the puffed hand milled wheat kernels on top for extra crunch.
Cured Egg Yolk, Rooster Stock and Spaghetti
The last savoury dish of the night was a lamb cooked in carrots and mulberries. The lamb was tender, going well with the sweet, juicy mulberries which were placed on top for garnish.
Lamb with Carrots and Mulberries
The palate cleanser continued the playful theme of the evening, featuring an addictive, creamy cereal flavoured soft serve sprinkled with dried mulberries on top – I could easily eat a whole bowl of this!
Cereal soft serve with dried mulberries
Dessert itself was a very pretty creation called “Mum’s Roses” which came served in a gorgeous stone bowl with dry ice creating an impressive amount of smoke from underneath the lid. Once you open it up, it’s a fruity fresh wonderland showcasing peach in all forms (including peach icecream) and also a refreshing mango gel, bound together by their creme fraiche.
We absolutely loved the decor, aesthetic and philosophy of Biota, which really shone through in their innovative dishes – although a couple of their dishes were quite experimental and tested the limits of our palates. It’s definitely worth the drive down from Sydney, although if you’re planning to stay the night at their lodgings (like we did), their rooms are not quite as high end as their restaurant fitout.
The lodgings are well-kept and have nice Scandi touches, keeping in with the theme of their restaurant, but their bathrooms are a bit basic and could do with a revamp (although they do have nice Aesop toiletries!)
18 Kangaloon Road, Bowral NSW 2576
Phone: (02) 4862 2005