Thursday, 7 May 2015

Cottage Point Inn

Over the years, Sydney has become internationally renowned for its growing restaurant scene, creativity and food innovation. Our seafood is rated as some of the best in the world and we have fabulous fresh seasonal produce at our doorstep. Add to that our spectacular harbour, coastal and bushland landscapes to the canvas and you have one of the most beautiful backdrops in the world for wining and dining.

Amongst the growing restaurant scene, a long time hidden gem has emerged, nestled at the junction of Cowan Creek and Coal & Candle Creek on the Hawkesbury River Cottage Point Inn dates back to before the 1950’s where it began as a boathouse and general store servicing the river communities eventually becoming a restaurant for the tourists. In the 1950’s two apartments were added to allow visitors an overnight stay. Over the years the restaurant has developed into the fine dining establishment it has become today.

Accessing the restaurant may seem ‘remote’ to some, however it is in fact only a short drive north of the city. Mode of transport is by car, ferry or boat and for an extra special occasion (or any occasion really) you could opt to arrive in style by seaplane! We have arrived by car, through the lovely Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park offering a bushland entrance.
Cottage Point Whaf
Can you tell that I am excited about today?

We make our way down the steep stairs and pathway to Cottage Point Wharf and along the boardwalk to Cottage Point Inn, a little weatherboard riverside restaurant, complete with boardwalk terrace and pontoon wharf. 

We are warmly greeted and seated at the most desirable al fresco table on the carpeted, enclosed terrace area. As we have inclement weather today one side of the canopy is down to protect us from the elements the front remains open to offer us sweeping views of the creek (in warmer weather all sides would be rolled up). The weather has not deterred us though. Clouds of mist hang amongst the treetops on the opposite bank, the water is a choppy grey/green from the mornings rain and lack of activity on the water makes it peaceful and serene but dramatic with storm clouds looming.
We start with a glass of the Bress Limited Release Brut, Macedon VIC NV, while we peruse the menu. The Bress lightly fizzes on the palate while imparting a slight fruity sweetness. It's versatile and harmonious. Definitely  an enjoyable glass of sparkles.  
The wine list is extensive with small boutique Australian wines and international wines, which come by the glass, half bottle or full bottle. There is also a selection of stickies and fortifieds and the Sommelier takes great pride in discussing the wine pairings.

We spend a few moments reading the delectable looking menu and out of the mist we eye a seaplane landing on the water and taxis in towards the pontoon. A waiter makes his way down to the waters edge to assist with the docking of the plane and to greet the guests arrival. All part of the service. Spectacular arrival I must say! 

The deep water floating pontoon can accommodate seaplanes and large boats
Bread and butter is served as our waiter takes our order and he is enthusiastic with suggestions.   The Sommelier makes a suggestion for wine, which just so happens to be the exact wine that Mr G had suggested.  He is proud as punch knowing that his wine pairing is spot on!

We share a bottle of Provenance Tarrington Pinot Gris.  Notes of honeysuckle and pear lace this crispy cold white.
We help ourselves to the still warm bread and butter, which is mixed in-house offering hints of lemon zest and salt. The butter is beautifully presented atop a Balinese lava rock.
A stunning amuse bouche is placed before us. A small bowl of gazpacho jelly, with a basil oil drizzle, salt and micro herbs. The first taste packs an intense tomato and cucumber pop on the palate. My taste buds come alive. It did everything an amuse bouche is supposed to do and I was excited about what was to come. 

gazpacho jelly
As our entrees arrived we took a few moments to admire the dishes and may have let out a delightful sigh. We have chosen dishes that we both would like knowing that we will share.

I love scallops and will usually choose them if on the menu and today is no different. Grilled scallops with fresh figs roasted in rosemary butter, with toasted macadamia milk and charred gem lettuce.

The dish is draped with dark green gem lettuce and slivers of hazelnut. Once unwrapped juicy and plump scallops hint of the briny sea. Roast figs are soft and tender with only a hint of buttery rosemary and the chopped hazelnuts add a nutty textural element to the dish…however, it is the charred gem lettuce draped over the top that bring this whole dish together.  
 grilled scallops with fresh figs roasted in rosemary butter, with toasted macadamia milk and charred gem lettuce
Mr G made a very last minute entrée change as he ordered and opted to go with the veal tartare. We are advised that this is Chef Zika’s signature dish. Veal tartare seasoned with oyster and lemon dressing, cucumber, tarragon and caper cracker. 
 veal tartare seasoned with oyster and lemon dressing, cucumber, tarragon and caper cracker 
This is picture perfect on the plate. Milky veal is finely cubed and delicately dressed with the lemon and oyster dressing with hints of tarragon. The tapioca crackers are laced with salty capers and are the perfect crunchy accompaniment.  

Mr G is not disappointed. I am in just as much awe. We are both blown away with it and agree that this is the standout dish of the day.  

There is enough time between courses to sit back and enjoy the view, the company and just generally enjoy a long leisurely lunch. We watch a wing-spread snake neck cormorant on the pontoon drying itself and eagles and other bird life swoop over the water, occasionally diving for their own tasty lunch. Its a shame that we miss out on the kookaburras that come down to perch on the railings awaiting the waiters to feed them meaty morsels due to he weather… I understand there is also a resident goanna that wanders around, however appears to be taking shelter elsewhere from the weather.
Our mains arrive and Mr G has the butter poached market fish, lemon caper and kale pan fried gnocchi and clam beurre blance. The market fish just happens to be Spanish mackerel. Its white flesh is robust, meaty and flavourful on its own, but it can withstand bold flavours. It’s a fantastic fillet to go with the sour, salty kale atop tiny pillows of gnocchi which are fried golden brown. The clam beurre blanc is subtle with a depth of flavour from the sea.

I have chosen a little known fish to me. The lightly charred cobia with, hazelnut anchoiade hollandaise, persimmon, confit leek and rainbow chard.
charred cobia with, hazelnut anchoiade hollandaise, persimmon, confit leek and rainbow chard
Cobia is rarely seen on a menu and as I understand it is a Black Kingfish. It is a sustainably farmed deep sea fish from Queensland and although a firm white filet it is delicate in flavour. The cobia is rolled in crushed hazelnuts and sits on a bed of soft confit leek and rainbow chard. I can taste the well balanced creamy anchoiade hollandaise.
fried balls of amazingness
The two sides on the menu are Dauphine potatoes and a salad of cos hearts, radicchio and iceberg lettuce with mustard and lemon dressing. The lettuce dish offers a crisp and crunchy freshness. First time tasting Dauphine potatoes and I’m in heaven. Fluffy balls of potato and choux pastry, deep fried. These are amazing!

Both mains are lovely fish dishes and I was left comparing the two fish, although they are incomparable. I like both! Paired with the dauphine potatoes and I am told that these are the best fish and chips, fine dining style ever!
Before dessert I take a wander around to lap up some of the gorgeous views and snap some photos.  It really is stunning scenery and I can only imagine what it would be like on a sunny day. The inside dining area is light and airy with light colour décor the upside down wooden row boat suspended above the bar catches my eye and the boatshed memorabilia placed on the mantle above the fireplace is a nice touch. Each table has a water view as does the kitchen with a window looking over the dining room and beyond. 
As the pre-dessert is served I think to myself ‘cheeseboard in a glass’. It is a small glass of tart green apply jelly layered with a warm Roquefort foam and candied walnuts folded through. It’s an unusual texture and flavour sensation. The apple jelly is crisp and sour (although it could have been more tart for my liking) and the blue cheese foam is a sensory overload on the taste buds. It’s a clever dish.
cheeseboard in a glass

Desserts arrive and I cannot help but drool a little. I have chosen the warm poached pear, crystallised dark chocolate served with almond milk ice cream and chocolate sauce. My fork slices through the soft pear easily which is drizzled with a glossy chocolate sauce and coated in toasted nutty almonds. The creaminess of the almond milk ice cream is smooth and gentle.
warm poached pear, crystallised dark chocolate served with almond milk ice cream and chocolate sauce

However, it’s Mr G’s raspberry salad that is the show stopper. Raspberry Salad, beetroot and raspberry sorbet, honeycomb and shiso gel.
raspberry salad, beetroot and raspberry sorbet, honeycomb and shiso gel

The vibrant, colourful red quenelle of punchy raspberry and beetroot sorbet sits atop the fresh raspberries, with shaved baby red and orange radish, shards of sweet honeycomb, shiso gel and microherbs. Culinary art on a plate (as has been the whole meal for that matter). This is spectacular.


We are revelling in the delight of such a wonderful meal and it’s at this point that Chef Zika pops out with one last dessert for us to sample. It’s the Chestnut Tartlet that has been put on the menu as of today. Chestnut jam, rum & chestnut cream, grated raw chestnuts and quince. This is autumn in a tart! The rum and chestnut cream is light but ‘warming’, the tart shell snaps as you bite into its biscuit like texture. A delicious seasonal dessert.

 chestnut tartlet - chestnut jam, rum & chestnut cream, grated raw chestnuts and quince
So who is the man behind todays dishes?
The classically trained Chef Guillaume Zika at the helm of the kitchen, brings his flair, creativity and French influence to the menu, joined early last year. Chef Zika’s career includes Paris’ Le Grand Vefour, New York’s Per Se with Thomas Keller and more recently with Claude Bosi at Hibiscus restaurant in London, all having Michelin stars. 

Chef sits with us for a few minutes discussing his move to Australia, his recent marriage and his excitement of being in a Sydney kitchen. His day starts a few hours before he even hits the kitchen. He makes the trek south from his home to select the days seafood, which he prefers to do rather than have it delivered, before returning to Cottage Point Inn.
after an afternoon in the kitchen, still full of smiles!
We discuss how Australian produce compares to the likes of London , Paris and New York and the challenges faced incorporating unfamiliar produce into his dishes. Zika's repertoire includes incorporating nuts and seasonal fruit into his exquisite creations and he discusses overcoming the struggle of acquiring the perfect ripe fruit (which he finds himself doing in his own kitchen). I am left with admiration and inspiration.
To round off the meal I decide on a glass of the 2014 Brachetto D’Soumah, a dessert wine from Yarra Valley while Mr G sips on a Macchiato.
The Brachetto is not sticky sweet but fruity with notes of rosewater. I like it a lot!  
What can only be referred to as a petit fours, a tree branch is presented to the table with two skewers inserted in holding squares of aerated milk chocolate with coconut. The perfect bite to end a memorable meal.

 It has been a fabulous meal.

As we depart, we say our goodbyes and make the trek up the steep stairs. Apart from feeling very unfit and breathless as I climb the stairs I am left feeling satisfied, delighted and grinning ear to ear knowing that Cottage Point Inn has just left its mark on me and definitely in my top 5 meals I have ever had….leaving me eager to return…I just won’t need to leave it for a ‘special occasion’….any day should be a special occasion!  

Hopefully one day I can arrive by the gantry way and pontoon rather than those steps!

*Roofood dined as a guest of Cottage Point Inn and PR Firm Cardinal Spin.  All opinions are expressly my own.

Cottage Point Inn
2 Anderson Place
Cottage Point  NSW 2084

Cottage Point Inn on Urbanspoon

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