TASTE9.5
ATMOSPHERE10
SERVICE9
9.5Overall Score

The Botanica Vaucluse
2 Laguna Street, Vaucluse NSW 2030
Wed-Fri: 12pm – 3pm | 5pm – 10pm
Sat: 8am – 11:30am | 12pm – 3pm | 5pm – 11pm
Sun: 8am – 11:30am | 12pm – 2pm
(02) 9191 8989
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Serving up seasonal produce and serious #interiorgoals

Entering The Botanica Vaucluse via its lush garden with whimsical copper archways, into the dining room fit out with millennial pink armchairs and botanic-themed wallpaper is basically like walking into an instagram dream.

Accompanying its lush interiors, the restaurant’s farm to fork philosophy ensures it serves up only the freshest seasonal produce sourced from the kitchen garden or its very own Jamberoo Valley Farm, a 65-acre property that uses organic and permaculture principles, two-hours south of Sydney in the Kiama Hinterlands.

Catching our first glimpse of this seasonal produce, we are greeted with a Lemon Myrtle Gimlet with Coopers Gin and house-made Lemon Myrtle Syrup ($18). Our libation of choice for the evening.

Just as we have settled into our luxe pink armchairs (which we have begged requested our boss to get for the office), and with a mouth full of still-hot-from-the-oven Botanica Teff & Quinoa Bread ($3.6 pp), Executive Chef Perry Hill emerges from the kitchen to introduce us to each dish.

Working with ingredients direct from the Valley to Vaucluse, Hill tells us he prefers to show off his produce rather than hide it behind complicated techniques, focusing on fewer ingredients that resemble a snapshot of the season. “We’re responding to the seasons in a really immediate and natural way,” he says. “We’re not overthinking or complicating things.” No fuss here, just fresh artisanal dishes done well.

As if a witness to his testimony, entrées then arrive in front of us. For this vegetarian it is Slow Roast Butternut Pumpkin with Tahini, Sunflower Seeds & Sumac ($18). Hill’s commitment to simplicity really shines through in this dish. The tahini, sunflower seeds and sumac give just the right balance of flavour and crunch whilst letting the real star, the slow roasted pumpkin – thickly cut and with its skin still on – show off. The perfect autumn entrée.

There’s also Warm Spanner Crab Salad with Pomelo, Lemon Olive Oil & Plantain Chips ($22), Wagyu Beef Bresaola with Pickled Beetroot & Horseradish ($24), Crisp Fried Octopus with Coriander Mojo Verde Dressing & Finger Lime ($22) and a last minute addition of Rock Oyster’s much to diners delight. If I needed any sort of confirmation that these dishes impressed, it was the teasing from those around me about how much I was missing out, that said it all.

Next up is mains. I have the Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Soft Goats Cheese, Pesto & Baby Leeks ($34). If there’s one vegetarian dish that will satisfy even the most committed meat-eater, it’s got to be pasta. And this one does not disappoint. This is the kind of soft-pillowy gnocchi you usually only dream of, a lovely change from the slightly-hard or a-little-too-gooey packet kind we always end up with at home (or is that just us?)

Sweet Potato Gnocchi. Image: Lauren Geyer

Other mains on offer are Grilled Quail with Late Season Figs, Baby Gem Lettuce & Almonds ($36), Seared Kingfish with Grilled Capsicum & Romesco Dressing ($38) and Roast Duck Breast with Radicchio & Fennel and Preserved Orange Salad ($38). Fellow meat-eating Hunter and Bligh-er in attendance assures me the kingfish is not one to be missed. But if you ask me, order the gnocchi.

Then comes the one course that doesn’t discriminate between meat and non-meat eaters; dessert. Finally, it is my time to shine.

First up is a Dark Chocolate and Date Cake with Orange Crème Fraiche ($16) which unsurprisingly goes down an absolute treat. Chocolate and orange = ingenious, always. Next the Strawberry Gelato with Champagne Jelly & Raspberry ($16) provides a refreshing break, but it is the Blueberry, Rhubarb & Goats Cheese Meringue Tart ($16) that has me picking my jaw up off the floor. The meringue is light and fluffy, the blueberries and rhubarb perfectly tart and the subtle addition of creamy goats cheese entirely unexpected but perfectly comforting.

If there’s a downside to The Botanica Vaucluse, it’s really only that it’s not closer to my house.

What to Eat and Drink:

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Soft Goats Cheese, Pesto & Baby Leeks

Lemon Myrtle Gimlet with Coopers Gin and house-made Lemon Myrtle Syrup

Featured Image: Nikki To

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