A few months ago I picked up a Cudo voucher for the new Gilbraltar Hotel (more on that experience later). Obviously a popular voucher as we had to wait a few months before we could book. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it meant we arrived in Bowral post opening of Biota Dining, the new venture from James Viles. I spied a review of Biota on Gastronomous Anonymous just before our long weekend, and thankfully Michael agreed that it was a must visit.
“Biota is a dining experience supporting both local farmers and growers, focusing on artisan produce incorporating seasonal botanicals in all aspects of its menus and environment.. Our onsite automated glasshouse grows over 40 varietels of seed imported from france, netherlands and local suppliers which gives us a constant seasonal harvest of shoots, cresses and seedlings getting put to into gastronomic practice on a daily basis.” - biotadining.com
We book for a Saturday night and upon entering the restaurant we find that we’ve scored the premier table – right in front of the kitchen! We have an amazing view of the servery and can see/hear every movement from within the bowels of the kitchen. Around the opposite side of the building is the lounge. Comfortably decked out and featuring a separate menu of tapas style food. Watching the working of the kitchen all night makes me realise my job is mundane in comparison.
The wine list is extensive and features a few local wines. I choose a sauvignon blanc from Centennial Vineyards, which is right next to our hotel, only to discover that they are all out. The waitress recommends another local wine and I am horrified to discover that I’ve just agreed to a chardonnay. It wasn’t too bad and the glass size was overly generous (I hear chardonnay is making a comeback, though?).
We start off with warm bread and smoked butter, followed by an amuse-bouche of apple, tomato and Chamomile. The tomato is overly acidic on its own but is palatable with the apple pure.
For entrée I opt for the banana prawns in cured scallop broth with cucumber, green tea and dill seeds ($19). The severing was huge, with a whopping six large banana prawns on my plate. The prawns were perfectly cooked and the broth was tasty, however I did find it to be a tad salty.
Michael ordered the barbecued calamari, dressed with sugar snap peas and celery ($22). I managed to wrangle a small mouth full from him and again, the calamari was perfectly cooked. I despise rubbery, overcooked calamari!