Sunday, February 26, 2006

Bathers Pavillion, The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach

Bathers Pavillion, The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach
Sunday 26 February, 2006

Today was a special occasion - my parent's 40th wedding anniversary. As one of their favourite restaurants is Bathers in Balmoral it seemed appropriate that we celebrate there. An intimate and important group of guests were invited and we were seated in the private dining area at the far end of the restaurant.

The temperature today was steamy & the restaurant just didn't have a good air flow - well, at least not enough to reach our room. That said, we had a fantastic long lunch - the food was outstanding, the service good and the company was excellent.

I've had some hits and misses at Bathers previously but today the food really delivered. I enjoyed the Goat cheese cappelletto (similiar to ravioli) with witlof. olives, parmesan, asparagus and anchovy butter for entree. There were three large cappelletto's on the plate and they melted in your mouth. Several of the other guests ordered the Sélection de fruit de mer with scampi, prawn, kingfish, tuna, scallop and eel with the other popular dish being the Sweet corn soup with sautéed yabby tails, baby leeks and basil oil. The presentation was very good and everyone devoured their meals.

We had a good break between entrees and mains and I can't write this without acknowledging there were some areas the service could have improved e.g. asking twice for a napkin, refill of water and the length of time between the meals etc - these little things might seem insignificant but they contribute to the overall experience.

The wine was excellent, in particular the red from Freychinet in Tasmania. One of our waiters was from Tasmania so this generated an animated discussion about Tasmanian wine. The decor in Bathers embodies a beach theme however the painting above our table by Fran Allen was quite striking. It was a series of forks in random order painted across the canvas.

The mains arrived with great fanfare as several dishes required the sauce poured at the table. I was very impressed with the Murray cod with crab, tomato
lentil, celery ragoût, champagne and chervil sauce. The cod had a beautiful crisp outer layer and the champagne & chervil sauce was a lovely accompaniment. Some of the other dishes ordered were the Barramundi wrapped in pancetta with Asian oxtail ravioli & celeriac purée; Loin and rump of lamb shank pithivier with small vegetable & tarragon sauce; and the Assiette of farmed Macleay Valley rabbit potée of rabbit and vegetables & liquorice sauce. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their meals.

With another significant break between courses many guests decided to order dessert and tea/ coffee. Whilst I declined (I am eating out again tonight...I know) the desserts did look very appealing - largely fruit based with raspberry, apricot and peach standing out along with creme fraiche and ice cream.

The general consensus was that the food was outstanding but the service did not match the experience.

Bathers Pavillion - 4 The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach - (02) 9969 5050


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