There are hardly any places more remote in Sydney than the little historic suburb of Cottage Point. Situated at the tip of a point right in the middle of Ku-Ringai Chase National Park it is almost easier to access this little settlement of holiday homes and permanent dwellings by boat rather than by car. But of course the road to Cottage Point is sealed these days and this makes it a rewarding destination for a trip away from it all.
In this idyllic location, surrounded by rugged bushland and the calm waters of the Cowan Creek, you will find the top-end restaurant Cottage Point Inn. Located right on the water it is perfectly positioned to take in the beauty of this untouched Australian landscape; only occasionally your mind will be brought back to the ‘here and now’ when a seaplane touches down in front of your very eyes to offload a group of diners. That, and the regularly commuting Palm Beach ferry or private yachts will be the only things to take your mind off the sheer peacefulness and tranquility of this place. Oh, and there is a good chance that there is no mobile phone reception either, so don’t even bother checking your emails while you are there.
In short, thanks to its perfectly secluded location the Cottage Point Inn is the best choice for a romantic, quiet lunch or dinner by the water’s edge. Food here is modern French, provided by Chef Guillaume Zika, who despite his young age already has four years of work experience at London’s 2 Michelin star Hibiscus Restaurant to show for.
We enjoy our sunny Sunday lunch on the waterside deck with views to all sides and at just the right temperature on this sun kissed winter’s day. Bread, butter and water come to our table promptly, and we enjoy our really fresh dark chunks of bread with a nice thick crust as well as the lemony butter that must also follow a house recipe. The tangy aroma of lemon is something that will accompany us today through our meal like a weaving thread – an uplifting, refreshing flavour that works so well in all sorts of dishes.
Our starters are selected based on the waiter’s recommendation. First the fresh veal tartare with oyster & lemon dressing (there it is again!), cucumber and tarragon and caper crackers. The veal tartare, finely chopped and flavourful is so surprisingly soft, it just feels like silk on our tongues, not like the raw meat it actually is. The crackers offer a nice contrast in terms of texture, they are puffed up and crispy and balance the dish just perfectly.
Our other starter is a dish made from locally grown portobello mushrooms, served with a cream of coffee and brown butter, a sprinkle of crispy shallots, and little hazelnut morsels for added crunch. How fantastic to enjoy produce that is sourced so close to home, literally coming from the same neighbourhood? And look at the lovely plate, provided by the very same producer’s wife who supplied the Cottage Point Inn with some lovely handmade pottery. The colours of these handmade plates just blend in perfectly with the whole experience.
The fresh and juicy mushrooms are extremely fragrant when served, you will not be able to hold back for long when these lovely scents invade your senses. The creamy sauce is a wonderful way of enhancing the earthy mushroom flavours, and the rustic hazelnuts are of course a wonderful addition for a crunchy texture and deep aromas.
For lunch we order two fish dishes, although I have to admit that the grilled wagyu rump cap marinated in black garlic sounds absolutely fantastic – cut from one of the most tender parts of the animal and slow-cooked for an impossibly long time it must be a dish made in heaven. Here’s my mental note that I need to come back to try this dish at my next visit.
The first main we sample is the market fish of the day, Spanish Mackerel, which is served on golden spätzle, little pasta or dumplings that seem to have been fried off quickly for extra flavour and some more substantial texture. The sauce is lemony (there it is again!), and there’s capers and kale to round off this tempting composition.
The other dish is grilled swordfish, probably one of the juiciest I ever had which happily rests on the plate next to a mix of tiny potatoes, partly boiled and partly crispy (their skin, actually) which are sharing the wonderfulness of a green olive and anchovy paste which is by nature a little bit tart and salty and just perfect with the sweetness of the potatoes. It’s a very clean plate without heavy, thick sauces, making it so deliciously light and simply tasty.
We are treated to both of the side dishes, and I can assure you that they make great additions to any dish if you feel like to you want to add something to the plate. The Dauphine Potatoes are in fact very smooth, super crispy and very attractive looking potato croquettes with just a tiny hint of lemon (and yes, here it is again!), just wonderful. You can also add a super crunchy fresh salad with your mains which has a lemon (yep) and mustard dressing and it really adding some refreshing flavours to the plate.
At Cottage Point in there is a good selection of desserts too – as you all know, a romantic lunch wouldn’t be complete without some sweet treat in the end, but if that’s not your thing you might want to have a closer look at the stunning cheese platter which is served with red onion and quince chutney, candied walnuts, fruit bread and oat and olive crackers.
But to be honest, if you decide to pass on the sweet desserts you will miss some of the most beautiful dishes that you can find in Sydney.
And while we are waiting for our desserts we are treated by the kitchen to a little surprise that comes in an ordinary tumbler but turns out to be one of the best dishes we get to enjoy this Sunday. (There are more little surprises like this during the course of the meal, but I don’t want to give too much away as I don’t to spoil your own experience).
The little glass that comes out of the kitchen holds a sweet jelly with some few crunchy apple pieces and is covered with a foam of Roquefort. As delicate and beautiful as it looks, this little dish requires you to dig right in, so as to mix both components, the sweet and the savoury, on your spoon. Only then will you be able to fully enjoy the fireworks of flavours that happen all at once – the strong, salty blue cheese flavour going on a heads-on-collision with the fruity apple. The more we eat the more we like it, until we are already scratching out the bottoms of the glasses with our spoons. A beautiful surprise dish that I hope will continue on the menu throughout the seasons.
Our two desserts couldn’t be more different from each other, yet both come with the absolute wow factor. The first is a buttermilk sorbet which is covered in a dark chocolate foam and comes with large pieces of poached pear. While the buttermilk is not very rich in flavour it does contribute a beautiful creaminess to the chocolate component, and the pear is of course a succulent addition to the creamy, rich chocolate which gives the flavours on the plate an additional lift. Just beautiful.
The second dessert is an absolute stunner – a delicate yet surprisingly strong shell of meringue which holds the secret to a tangy bitter orange sorbet. The crumbs of meringue on the plate, the sour sorbet, the core of frozen yoghurt (if I am not mistaken), is excitingly refreshing and naughtily delicious. This is one of these dishes that don’t just stun you with their beauty, but there is also texture and the ups and downs between pure sweetness and squeaky tartness that just make this one of the best dishes I’ve had this year.
Dining at Cottage Point Inn takes time. This is not a quick affair at all. It’s an experience that is all consuming, provoking your senses in so many ways, at first visually, then with with your tastebuds, but then also thanks to the smells of fresh seaweed, the native shrubs and the untouched earth. You can easily spend all afternoon here, not regretting a single second. With probably no mobile reception to call you back to civilisation this is the best place to be in great company, be it your lover, your family or a group of good friends.
Please note that dishes do change seasonally, so if you would like to check out any of the ones mentioned above you need to book yourself in now before new seasonal dishes are being introduced. If you’d rather wait for spring flavours such as asparagus give it another couple of days before you plan your visit. Check out the Cottage Point Inn website for the up-to-date menu.
Cottage Point Inn. 2 Anderson Place, Cottage Point. http://www.cottagepointinn.com.au/