A 220km round trip is a long way to chase a meal, but Biota Dining in Bowral is not just a standard place to sit down for dinner. Giant rocks of pink Murray salt frame the open kitchen where renowned chefs James Viles and Shaun Quade transform empty plates into culinary wildcards. There’s a glasshouse in the garden that lushly grows over 40 ingredients – some from Europe, some from a much more walkable distance. A sprawling tree plays the role of sculptural attention-seeker in the restaurant’s centre.
And the food – from a “pre-teaser” that is shot out of a cream gun, Star-Trek-style, and served into a glass on your table (it’s a futuristic swoop of rhubarb cooked for 25 hours and elderflower) to a green tea cake with Pacojet roast coconut milk, pineapple “surprise”, pomegranate underneath and sprinkling of fennel pollen – it all fizzes, pops, snaps, tingles or just leaves a memorable medley of all-in-one sensations. Less tech-driven approaches also make an impact: mushrooms, slippery jack and pines, foraged by the chefs, are served with garlic crumbs and parsnip so fried and thin it’s like a cracker – delicious. At play is a simple trick that requires no fancy gadgetry: the chefs simply add lemon because a squeeze of citrus makes the mushrooms taste more “mushroomy”. It’s a flavour-charging effect.
Like any menu chasing high-thrill pursuits, a few dishes are more ambitious than successful – but you’re mainly glad that it’s going full-throttle and ignoring the middle of the road. Biota Dining’s still a worthwhile adventure.
Biota Dining, 18 Kangaloon Rd, Bowral NSW (02) 4862 2005, www.biotadining.com