Vanessa: The Southern Highlands boasts beautiful scenery and surroundings, and being less than a two-hour drive from Sydney, is an appealing location for a day trip or getaway. We recently took the opportunity to explore Bowral, a quaint little town with many a boutique running along the main high street. I had lured Mr. M to Bowral for the day with the promise of a leisurely lunch overlooking the picturesque vineyard of Centennial Vineyards Restaurant.
Known to be a popular venue for weddings, I was confident that my location of choice would deliver on my promise and it did. The sandstone restaurant is set amongst the rolling, green vineyards making it an ideal location to settle in for the long haul, vino in hand.
The restaurant has a charming interior, with decor perfectly suited to the country location.
We settled in and perused the menu options. A number of dishes sounded appealing but being indecisive we chose the easy option of the Chefs Menu at $75 p.p, offering 3 courses and a glass of sparkling wine.
I am always a fan of a complimentary course, so was immediately impressed when the waitress arrived with espresso glasses filled with a creamy mushroom soup. A tiny morsel to get the taste buds moving in preparation for the entrée…always appreciated!
The chefs menu includes the centennial tasting slate as part of the offer. The slate features 6 different daily items from the entree options.
Our slate included bite size portions of bruschetta, dill & lime cured salmon, prosciutto and fig salad, arancini, ham and gruyère cheese and a pumpkin and cumin soup. Unfortunately the slate had more misses than hits on this occasion. The most disappointing element was the quiche which promised so much with two delicious components, but unfortunately was very dry with a base that was not cooked through. The hero of the slate was definitely the salmon which had a fresh, citrus flavour.
For mains I chose to stick with the festive theme and ordered the ballontine of free range turkey stuffed with macadamia & dried fruits, sage & onion puree, heirloom carrots, cranberry jus ($37).
This was a promising dish, that was thankfully supported by very strong flavours across the stuffing and the puree. The turkey itself was a little on the dry side, so the complementing elements did their part to elevate the dish.
Mr M opted for the trusty cider braised pork belly, caramelised apples, carrot puree, smoked ham hock croquette, crispy crackling ($38). Overall the dish was tasty and appealing, however Mr Mr found the large amount of liquid in the dish off-putting… especially given it resulted in half his crackling turning into a soggy mess.
In attempt to curb sugar after an over indulgent christmas period, we have sworn off dessert..for now. We instead opted to share the cheese board between us..and yes I am aware of the fat content in cheese :).
This was one of the most plentiful cheese boards I have had in a long while with a cracker-to-cheese ratio that was absolutely on point! We chose a creamy brie, a sharp blue and a bitey cheddar which was accompanied by walnuts, pear and truffle honey. This was the perfect way to end and made up for any short falls in the previous dishes.
We slowly made our way back to the car after our leisurely lunch but not before taking some obligatory touristy shots of the surrounds and vineyards.
Overall, despite some disappointing elements, we had an enjoyable lunch in a beautiful setting. Not convinced I would return for a full meal but one things for sure I would certainly stop in for a crisp glass of wine, picturesque view and that cheese board!