Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Journeyman, Old Hume Highway, Berrima

The Journeyman, Old Hume Highway, Berrima

Saturday 21 July, 2007

I had heard wonderful things about this place and was really looking forward to our dinner tonight. Sometimes this works and sometimes it works against you - tonight I was disappointed and it's tough to follow Eschalot. Don't get me wrong the food was really lovely but the atmosphere and service were very average.

We arrived and found it difficult to navigate the uneven and badly lit entrance. That said, the great thing about dining out in the Southern Highlands is the parking - its free and there's plenty of it. There is an entrance well and front reception and we were directed to our table in the middle of the large open dining space. It felt stark and uninviting as opposed to the bar off the right of the entrance that had exposed sandstone walls and fairy lights - it looked like a Christmas in July haven.

After being seated we were left alone for over 15 mins. The staff didn't appear stretched so we must have been sitting in the service void. When we did receive some service it was disjointed and strained, except from our sommelier who was engaging, very knowledgeable and happy to discuss the local wines and her current studies towards a Master of Wine.

We were served a complimentary starter before we even ordered - artichoke soup - that came in a small tea cup and saucer - it was warm and rich and just the right amount to warm us up. After the cups were removed our waiter returned to take our orders. I found it very odd that they would serve us a starter without taking our order but we went with it. Shortly afterwards I ordered the blue swimmer crab pasta with chilli to start as did one of my dinner buddies - it was served in a large bowl and presented in a spiral bundle of spaghetti with a generous portion of blue swimmer crab and chilli - it was light and the pasta was al dente. Our other dinner buddies ordered the smoked salmon terrine and were very impressed.

For main I opted for the roast pork and pork belly. This was the standout for me. It was a generous serve and was delivered as two slices of roast pork with a slab of pork belly on the side. This was tender, slightly salty and very tasty - I enjoyed every mouthful. My dinner buddies had opted for the sirloin with pumpkin mash and 2 x blue swimmer crab pasta with chilli.

The other oddity with the service was getting our plates cleared - this seemed to take forever and at one point half the table was cleared and they forgot about the other plates. This wasn't realised by the staff until they delivered our next course. After the main meal we received another complimentary dish - quince jelly with brandy foam. I really loved this and was happy to forego dessert afterwards.

The atmosphere at the Journeyman was cold and the wait staff were poor - this is an important factor in the overall experience. If you remove it from the equation I would say it was a solid experience i.e. the food was really lovely but if you return the atmosphere and service to the equation it was disappointing.

I was expecting more and would like to return soon to give it another chance.

The Journeyman - Old Hume Highway, Berrima - (02) 4877 1911


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