This is part two of our NSW Dining Guide,
(See here if you missed Part One). We delve into the top picks from the Southern Highlands, located under two hours from Sydney. Famed for its village style eateries, wineries, and sprawling greenery. Get exploring with popular towns like Bowral, Berrima, and just on the edge – Kangaroo Valley.
Centennial Winery– 5 star vineyard and beautiful surrounding grounds
Did you know that wineries had star ratings? If you didn’t, it’s worth noting, because the team at Centennial are proud to say they are the only winery in the Southern Highlands to be awarded the prestigious 5 red star rating from James Halliday, the most respected wine critic in Australia. They have also won numerous wine show awards and accolades so needless to say, we were excited to cross this one off our bucket list. The grounds are – in a word – exquisite. With sprawling vines, manicured gardens full of lined hedges and a pebbled driveway leading up to the sandstone restaurant and cellar door. Inside the cellar door there are lines of golden barrels filled with award winning drops. We sit down for the tasting at a beautifully rustic wooden table adorned with Australian natives (cute touch!) as the effervescent Jenny takes us through their lip smacking selection – starting with the sparkling. The whites are a delight but the reds were All. Out. Showstoppers. The shiraz has a rich cherry flavour and the pinot noir is light and tantalisingly more-ish. The clear winner in our eyes however was the 2016 Rondinella. Light, but full of flavour with medium tannins and a smooth spicy finish – we couldn’t get enough (and subsequently purchased several bottles).
Address: 252 Centennial Road Bowral NSW 2576
Plantation Bowral – For great people watching and ambience
Plantation is located on the edge of “Green Lane” and just adjacent to the popular Dirty Janes Antiques (more on that below) in Bowral. Akin to a quaint English village square surrounded by gardens, gift shops, beautiful homewares and foodie havens, Green Lane as a whole is a must to add to your travel lists. Plantation and the neighbouring Harry’s offer rustic, european-esque alfresco and in-house dining. Plantation offers quality conserves, artisan crackers and coffees and their fit-out and displays are as yummy as the food they have on offer. With pastries, double roaster coffee, fresh baked goods and an intriguing fusion-style seasonal menus the lofty ceilinged venue was extremely welcoming (not to mention photogenic.) We tucked into a vegetarian frittata and a reuben sandwich and I don’t mind admitting – the reuben was one of the best this writer has had since New York City’s world famous reuben sandwiches (I’ve happily done the research – tough.. but someone has to right.) Green Lane as a whole is definitely the place for top-notch people watching! Sipping our coffees, we enjoyed taking in the greenery, design and fashionable visitors and locals alike as they perused the pretty precinct. The cherry on top? The table next to us had brought along their 5 week old lab-cross-colllie named Buddy who played with us as we ate our lunch (and lapped up the attention of the passers-by) whilst we took in the scenery. A lovely little corner of the world to spend a few happy hours.
Address: Green Lane, 21 Banyette Street, Bowral.
Bendooley Estate – Books, a winery and stunning grounds
Bendooley’s is a one-stop-shop – its got it all; Berkelouw Book Barn, restaurant, bar, cosy fireplaces, pristine grounds and delicious wines. With its high cathedral ceilings the estate is made up of golden sandstone that sits in the centre of the manicured vineyards and amber coloured tree lined grounds. The inside is also home to many a rare book, the walls are overflowing with their colourful covers. We stop to take in the beautiful hardbacks in the hallway and in the bar where many a coffee table book can be scouted for that stellar birthday or Christmas gift. The restaurant bustles with chattering patrons and the staff are kept busy aiding people’s requests whilst expertly pouring wines. The Bendooley’s Southern Highlands’ vines benefit highly due to the areas generally evenly distributed rainfall, the rich, red volcanic soil, high altitude, warm days and long colder evenings. The stand-out drop for us was their savoury and almost spicy pinot noir that – whilst being light – also had lasting tasty tannins and a bold finish. It’s dangerously easy to let the hours flow over you here whilst tasting a wine or two. The instagrammable Bendooley’s even has a huge corkscrew sculpture propped up in their entry – not quite, but almost big enough to join the ranks (and be in good company with) our Aussie wide ‘big’ list including the big prawn, banana and big potato?
Bendooley Winery and Estate – Berrima
Address: 3020 Old Hume Highway Berrima NSW 2577
Southern Highlands Taphouse and Brewery– For the best brews in town
Good vibes. Check. Quality pub grub. Check. Righteous selection of yummo beers and vino. Check check check. Made up of a collective team of owners Ben and Genevieve Twomey, and Co-owner and head brewer Cameron James (Camo) the Southern Highlands Taphouse and Brewery is a warm inviting watering hole to add to any road trip. ‘Camo’ states that brilliant beer needs to be ‘balanced’. He goes on to say that their selection pays homage to all beer styles yet “politely declines to be swayed by trends” believing that traditional Pilsners, Lagers and Blondes sit equally among the fashionable Pale Ales and IPAs. As they have a selection of their own multi-award winning brews we couldn’t wait to try what was on offer. We sampled a beer tasting selection and were delighted to see them displayed on an ornate gold edged wooden beer holder of 4 beers to sample. Foamy, rich golden beer – we were (literally) frothing. Their pizzas and pasta were filling and scrumptious with nice big portion sizes. The sticky date pudding was rich but just the sweet treat we were craving to finish off our meal. Their beer glassware is also just soooo cool – check their instagram here for more pics of the fun venue.
Southern Highlands Taphouse and Brewery
Address: 490-494 Argyle Street, MOSS VALE NSW
Kangaroo Valley Fudge House -for sweet treats (for little and big kids)
On the cusp of Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands Kangaroo Valley can happily fit into both. The charismatic and visually stunning town is a must visit for day road-trippers or holiday makers. The town is full of character and beautiful homes and the town boasts some of the best pies you will find anywhere and a ‘friendly inn’ pub that would rival any. The staff are indeed very friendly and the pub grub is superb. The real winner here however is the Kangaroo Valley Fudge house, ice creamery and lolly shop. As sweet as it sounds, this place in an institution. This writer has fond memories of her parents dropping in there on road trips (my mum is a big caramel fudge fan!) and happily when I’ve re-visited as an adult the place still hold the same wonder and joy. They offer not only the best authentic, hand made, gluten free fudges (created with local ingredients and no preservatives) but great local and international candy favourites and housemade ice-cream. With sweets like New Zealand Jersey Caramels, Aussie boiled candy, Aussie coconut rough, Sour straps, Aussie black liquorice and sour worms the list goes on. They also do wonderful wedding favours for guests gifts and cater to special events too. To top it off the incredible locally owned company has also created a Bushfire Recovery Hamper (tragically in Kangaroo Valley alone they lost over 40 homes and businesses) where proceeds go to directly supporting at least 5 bushfire affected South Coast small businesses! What’s sweeter than that?
Kangaroo Valley Fudge House
Address: Shop 1, 162 Moss Vale Road Kangaroo Valley NSW 2577
Royal Pub Bowral – For a charismatic country-styled pub
Exactly what you want from a small town pub, the Royal in Bowral has many a little corner to cosy up in that would suit a drink or dinner with friends (or the whole family.) With the pub and sports bar out front, the fire and seating in the middle, restaurant section in the back and an outdoor dining section, we were spoilt for choice. We first downed a delicious tap beer (oh my how we have missed you being poured for us!) and took in the happy punters whilst chatting to the friendly bar staff. We then wander to the back restaurant for a traditional pub feed. The specials board caught our eye with pork roast and crackling sounding just the ticket. The remainder of the menu was just what we would want – with classics like chicken schnitty, burgers and fresh winter salads. We happily ate our way through the burger and chips and roast pork (with a river of gravy just how we like it!) and ended on a sweet note with the delicious sticky date pudding.
Royal Pub Bowral
Address: 255 Bong Bong St, Bowral NSW 2576
Honorable mentions :-
From old furniture to vintage clothes, to ornate jewellery – Dirty Janes Antiques
In a word? TRUFFLES! (Also Patrick – the owner – is a legend!) – Robertson Truffles
For a lazy afternoon and some spiced wines – Artemis Winery Mittagong