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Berowra Waters Inn

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Contact info

Via Bay Rd2082 Berowra Waters
T+61 294561027




Chef's personal info

Name: Dietmar Sawyere
Date of birth: Unknown
Origin: Switzerland
Savoy Hotel1 weekGekko restaurant at Park Lane Hotel Sidney The Chifley Tower Five city road restaurant 
Table by the riverEnglish New Holland

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Articles - Simon Thomas
After a decade of ups and downs, Berowra Waters looks to have been saved for fine dining.

After a decade of ups and downs, Berowra Waters looks to have been saved for fine dining.

Berowra Waters Inn is Australian dining's MCG. Or perhaps, since it is hallowed ground, St Peter's. Indigenous people dined here for at least 10,000 years.

Then, in 1975, along came Tony and Gay Bilson and, soon after, Janni Kyritsis. Over 20 years a steady stream of talented people made it one of the world's greatest dining destinations. When a young Swiss chef named Dietmar Sawyere visited Australia for the first time in 1988 he went straight from the airport to Berowra Waters Inn to eat. The magical combination of remarkable food and setting seduced him like so many others. Who'd have guessed where it would lead 19 years down the track?

Berowra Waters Inn Article Lead - wide

This Glenn Murcutt-designed building - with its distinctive Australian vernacular style, corrugated tin roof over glass louvre windows on a Sydney sandstone base, set among eucalypts and angophoras - is also a folly in an impossible but sublimely serene antipodean setting. The Inn demands a pilgrimage. It's an hour's drive from Sydney, then a punt arrives, with its R.M. Williams-clad boatman, to ferry you across the river. The experience rises like a slow crescendo in a magnificent symphony. (Alternatively, you can always fly from Rose Bay or moor out front.) It's a daydream come true.

Can you tell I'm in love with this place? It's been a long affair, with its ups and downs. Over the past decade, I've experienced plenty of the latter in a staccato period that almost saw the site lost to dining. Thankfully, Forty One's Sawyere has arrived to elevate the food to the standard of the setting and restore this place to its rightful position in the pantheon.

He has given the building the TLC and polish it needed, from blackbutt timber floors to white leather Arne Jacobsen chairs, to a new outdoor balcony for the contented lunch crowd still lingering as dinner begins, as well as cherry-picking the more personable members of Forty One's front of house team for his new "weekender".

Hallowed ground ... Berowra Waters Inn

Photo: Marco Del Grande

The menu borrows from his sky-high city restaurant's style too. Sawyere weds French technique to contemporary flavours in a dozen pretty and elegant savoury dishes that change each week. They're listed from lightest to heaviest in a DIY mini-degustation menu. There are by-the-glass wine suggestions for each dish. For $120, you'll also get a complimentary plate of nutty reggiano parmesan wedges, luxuriously sweet acorn-fed Iberico jamon and olives as a welcome. There are other small amuses along the way but I'd skip the shrill balsamic yoghurt sorbet palate cleanser.

As we gaze across the water, the meal sets off in full stride with a cloud-like cup of chilled oyster vichyssoise, the oyster scent and flavour like an elusive perfume, beside a duet of poached oysters and Oscietra caviar on small blinis with a sweet shallot confit. There's the tongue-in-cheek description of a guacamole - dissembled avocado cubes and lime with a filigree of baby coriander leaves, plus tiny croutons for crunch - beside poached yabby tails and a raviolo made from citrus-cured salmon with a plush yabby, avocado and tabasco filling. It's a harmonious chorus of delightfully light, yet creamy and citrus flavours, that shimmers like sunlight on the water.

Murray cod probably doesn't need to be wrapped in brik pastry on sauteed spinach, with two small grilled leeks on top, beside a sweetly smoky Spanish tomato and garlic sauce. OK, it's for texture, but it distracts from the silken fish.

I could simply eat a bowl of grilled alinghi mushrooms and go home happy. With corpulent gnocchi, crisply battered sage leaves, a nip of burnt sage butter and tiny celery leaves, it's not only pretty, it's one of the loveliest, most deftly balanced vegetarian dishes I've enjoyed for some time.

Brined quail breasts, scented with thyme, on white asparagus and gnocchi with morels and creamy, frothy mushroom sauce, are washed down with the '05 Domain Phillip Jones pinot noir from Gippsland. The memory fills the idle moments of subsequent days with longing.

A rare venison medallion, feisty from a cap of spicy native pepper paste, is soothed by spinach puree over a bed of fat balls of Israeli couscous.

After lingering over properly ripened cheeses, we try two desserts. Evocatively summery slices of peach confit loll on a jewel-like sauternes jelly scattered with candied pistachios. An equally fragrant sauternes custard with peach coulis and biscotti partners it in a sophisticated pas de deux. I'd be happy with either on its own. Our second choice is kirsch-marinated cherries, which loiter beside a cone of white chocolate parfait wearing a necklace of dark chocolate. The parfait delivers a strong rebuttal of my prejudice towards white chocolate.

Four hours have passed in a blink. I don't want to wake from this dream. Alas, a bad macchiato slaps me with stark reality. A decent coffee is one good reason to head back to the city, if only to find that old Thermos.

Berowra Waters Inn

The Summary A legendary dining destination is once more worthy of the trip, thanks to Dietmar Sawyere's precise yet relaxed fine dining.
Value Reasonable.
Chef-owner Dietmar Sawyere.
Service Refined yet open.
Food Contemporary.
Wine Smart, pricey and modestly global with plenty of domestic marques; 20 by the glass.
Vegetarians Three decent savoury options.
Child friendly High chair.
Noise The buzz of tinnies zipping past.
Wheelchair access No.

Read more: - Simon Thomas - Tania McCartney
Cookbook Review: Table by the River by Dietmar Sawyere

Cookbook Review: Table by the River by Dietmar Sawyere

Table by the River

If the luscious cover complete with handsome man adorning Table by the River doesn’t immediately draw you in, the culinary story behind this internationally acclaimed chef will soon have you scrabbling to add his gorgeous book to your collection – for it’s not just an impressive array of recipes Dietmar Sawyere shares in this beautifully presented book.

Filled with musings on a lifetime of incredible culinary roles from Chef Saucier to an inaugural member of the Singapore Airlines International Culinary Panel, Sawyere’s impressive career spans an award-winning arc through some of the world’s best hotels and restaurants – from London through Asia and into the Antipodes, with some of his finest achievements being founded in both Australia and New Zealand.

In 2007, Sawyere had the opportunity to acquire renowned restaurant, the Berowra Waters Inn, an iconic Australian restaurant located on the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney. It’s from this base that Table by the River was created, drawing on the stunning cuisine served at the Inn but also showcasing a series of reminiscences and insights into the running of a restaurant, and the creation of recipes.

From amuse gueule (literally ‘mouth amuser’) – bite-sized portions perfect for parties, through the first course, crustaceans, vegetables, fish, soup, poultry and game birds, butcher’s meat, game and offal, cheese, desserts and petits four, Swiss-born Sawyere shamelessly floors us with his highly-trained expertise, trouncing us with specialised recipes that are remarkably simple in their instruction.

Despite the potentially intimidating depth of expertise, this is not a pretentious book. The recipes are written simply and are easy to follow, without the addition of superfluous flounce. Yes, the ingredients can mostly be found at Coles. Happily, there’s not much that will have you running for a French dictionary or to a specialist store on the other side of town, and the tone and essence of the recipes is one of warmth and deliciousness and lots of pretty. What we don’t have here is ostentatious 3 Hat Chef intimidation that will have you rolling your eyes and tossing the book aside while you reach for a can of baked beans. 

Despite being surprised by the relative ease of these recipes, what I love about this book is that it will extend you as a cook. You’ll learn something special and new. There are very do-able techniques and ideas that will intrigue any home cook – like the pistachio-coloured foam on the Roast Gippsland Lamb Rack, Sweet Green Peas, Wilted Lettuce and Lemon Myrtle. Yes, you can also make foam. Just use a stab blender. No bells and whistles here. You, too, can create pistachio-coloured foam at home.

Love it.

I also love how exquisitely the book has been done – with truly stunning photography, masterful layout and design, and luscious, large format pages with creamy paper and those fascinating snippets that make this book unique. Read about the history of the Berowra Waters Inn, learn about Sawyere’s take on fish, his musings on how to ‘use’ a good restaurant and master the reservation technique. My favourite musings are ‘on food as art’, ‘on the rise and fall of haute cuisine’ and of course – ‘on chocolate’. I also love the section at the back of the book specifically for superb basics like basil oil, beurre noisette and tapenade.

Part cookbook, part history book, part memoir, part visual splendour and all in good taste, you won’t need a river flowing through your kitchen to become entranced by this gorgeous culinary tome. Enjoy every tender bite. - Tania McCartney


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