Biota – bio-ta, noun meaning “animals and plant life of a particular region”.
As soon as I saw the name of the restaurant, BIOTA Dining, I thought it had my name all over it! Now this was a restaurant that I wanted to try out …. in fact, I NEEDED to try it out (well that’s what I told my husband after I promptly booked a place for us both and a couple of foodie friends who I knew would love it too). I figured that it was time for me to do a restaurant review of a place that strives to serve only seasonal, local food at restaurant quality.
If you’re like me, then you’ll love the philosophy of Biota Dining in the Southern Highlands town of Bowral, about a 40 minute drive from home for me …. which is closer than driving in towards Sydney for other over-priced, disappointing cafe meals with less heart behind them.
I was hoping that my excitement and expectation wouldn’t over-ride the reality of the restaurant itself, much like the disappointment of seeing a movie that has been so often talked about that when you finally see it it becomes a let down. The anticipation was heightened by the fact that I had to book months in advance because the “Celebration Lunch” was only celebrated on the final Sunday of the month and busy work schedules between me and my friends made it a little tricky.
But, let me tell you, the wait was definitely worth it!! The restaurant, grounds and food matched every expectation I had for them.
We arrived on a beautiful sunny Sunday around noon, a short time before others so I could check out their veggie garden and take a few photos.
Hubby and I wandered cheerfully around the formal designed courtyard for alfresco dining and then leisurely headed down to the pond and veggie patch on the grounds of the restaurant …. with in-house geese patrolling the area to keep us in line and remind us who was boss around here! This is also where the local food and farmers market is held. How’s that for supporting your local area.
The Vegetable Garden
It’s great to see any restaurant with their own garden to supply the menu. This is the ultimate local food supply. There were a range of veggies, herbs and berries growing, some coming to the end of their season and others protected from birds, possums and other marauders.
It was lovely to view the vegetable garden from the outdoor dining areas and even better watching the chefs collecting and harvesting as required. (I have seen other restaurants with their own vegetable garden that is planted purely as a display and not serviced by the restaurant at all, but that’s another story).
Our meal was served at a shared table and proved to be a lovely chance to chat with strangers who enjoyed the same experience as us. We even exchanged numbers at the end. The food is a representation of what is local and seasonal so it changes all the time. It was exceptional value at $55 per person when we went and included a shared appetiser melt-in-your-mouth roasted pork accompanied with seasonal veggies and a glass of local wine. A shared dessert tasting plate was delicious. All meals had been scattered with edible flowers to add extra interest and flavour. The meal was completed with a coffee and truffle chocolate. Divine …. I could have stayed all day!
The Farmers Market
I had arranged the lunch booking through Food Path Tours With A Difference because it included the farmers market tour as well. Local fod producers are encouraged to come along and sell their produce on the grounds and people are welcome to picnic on the grass. Unfortunately for us, the farmers market was sabotaged by some bureaucratic red tape and local complainants so we missed out this time. Sanity has since prevailed and approval for the farmers market has been reassigned, so it’s now back on again. I guess that’s a good excuse for us to go again for another visit and restaurant review.
Bookings for the restaurant and farmers market tour can be made through Food Path Tour (facebook) or directly with Biota Dining (facebook).
Photo credits: Toni Salter, Biota dining, Food Path Tours