Quoi Dining: Hatted chef, Joshua Mason brings Parisian chic and fine wines to Baulkham Hills

Locals in the hills have long enjoyed Joshua Mason’s Quoi Dining. But, if you didn’t know to look out for the renowned chef’s restaurant, you could well miss it. 

Situated on Norwest Lake but nestled around the corner from a strip of other eateries, it’s somehow a hidden gem and a local legend all at once. As we arrive, we marvel at the extensive wine selection prominently displayed. Our waiter escorts us along the cosy restaurant to our table in the corner, surrounded by an impressive array of bottles stacked floor to ceiling.

Dark wooden panels and low lighting provide a warm and rustic feel while the contrasting black and white ceiling artwork and the lavish window drapes add a level of modern playfulness. It’s Parisian bistro meets wine bar and we’re here for it!

This corner table at Quoi Dining is a wine lover’s dream!

Let’s talk food!

Diners can choose between the A La Carte menu or two degustation experiences. ‘The Short Journey’ provides 12 dishes for $180, with wine pairings for $260. Meanwhile, ‘The Full Journey’ is 14 courses for $230 or $325 with wine. Today, we’re treated to a curated menu of Quoi’s most popular dishes – not too dissimilar to ‘The Full Journey’ but with some variations.

We start with canapés aplenty. The Gold Leaf Caviar Tart is light and smokey topped with golden flecks for extra pizzazz. Meanwhile, the Crab Cake is crunchy and crispy – a mix between traditional crab cakes and arancini. Quoi’s long-time menu staple, the Mornay Baked Oyster is cheesy, creamy, sharp, and full-flavoured. This is followed by the Potato Scallop and a Toasted Corn Tart which is gentle yet rich with lightly charred tips for added texture. 

The cheesy and creamy Mornay Baked Oysters are a local favourite.

Balancing tangy curd, a flakey crust, and just a hint of beetroot, The Beetroot and Goats Curd Tart puts the light in delightful. But, our favourite canapé is by far the Rosti, Egg, Pea. Served in a rectangular cube with whipped egg and lime on top, it’s zesty, crunchy, soft, and just the right density. If we didn’t have eight courses left, we could eat another!

Next up is the Kingfish Ceviche served with house-dried tomato and gazpacho. Raw fish is not usually my bag but the perfectly sliced kingfish combined with the acidity of the sauce and tartness of the tomato was a game-changer. This is followed by the Beetroot Goats Curd Salad. We assumed this would taste similar to the aforementioned tart but the pickled beetroot made for a stronger, more sour flavour which was beautifully complemented by gazpacho dressing, salted walnuts, and blackberries. 

The Beetroot Goats Curd Salad was among my favourite dishes of the night.

Now we move on to the hot dishes. The Tooth Fish is served under a buttery sauce with potato, peppers, radish, and olive. The light and flaky fish is contrasted by the rich and salty olive, capped off with edible flowers for a pop of colour.  This is followed by a Quoi classic – the Aged Duck. Locally sourced ducks are hung for nine days to achieve just the right meaty texture – the result is plump, juicy and slightly chewy (in a good way) with crispy skin for added texture. Served with plum, turnips, fondant onion, and red wine jus – it’s an excellent way to cap off our savoury journey.

But wait, there’s more…

The Strawberries and Champagne is a sizeable dessert – almost a snazzy twist on a trifle. The strawberries are juicy with a sour edge in a consistency comparable to a crunchy sorbet. This is accompanied by champagne jelly, small sponge cubes, white mousse, and fresh mint on top. And, just when you think the sourness might be a little much, there’s an underbelly of creamy goodness to bring it all together. 

Next up is the Cremé Caramel served with peach, vanilla, genoise, and chocolate. As you might expect, it’s wonderfully creamy and infused with distinct yet subtle caramel tones. It’s also perfectly balanced with the refreshing bursts of peach. And, finally, the Layered Chocolate Cake. Though it’s cake by name, it’s more dulce de leche by nature. Light, rich, and runny with ice cream for balance – what’s not to love?

When it comes to Strawberries and Champagne – what you see is just the tip of the iceberg!

Don’t forget the wine!

One thing that sets Quoi apart is that the owner is also a winemaker. With a vineyard – Ciel – in South Australia, he produces a range of wines across the Barossa and Eden valleys. There is an extensive global wine list to choose from as well as an option to go for wine pairings, but we decide to explore the Ciel offerings instead. When in Rome (or Baulkham Hills)!

We plan to start with the 2023 ‘Amuse Bouche’ Pinot Grigio. But, unfortunately, this Eden Valley white has proven so popular that it’s completely sold out! Moving swiftly on to the new vintage 2023 Rosé, ‘The Hostess’ – also in high demand. Made with a small amount of very old vine Grenache, it has a light and sweet quality akin to the Rosés of southern France (or so my plus one says!).

Unable to resist a heavier red – particularly those in the Shiraz family – we try the ‘Yes Chef’ Shiraz (dry and oaky with a hint of spice) before sampling the 2022 ‘Les Jus’ Grenache Shiraz which has a fruitier and smokier finish. 

The 2019 ‘Head Chef’ single vineyard Barossa Shiraz is powerful and oaky, yet a little fruity too – this is probably our favourite so far. We also briefly deviate from our Shiraz train to try the 2021 ‘Sous Chef’ Cabernet Sauvignon. Smooth and rich with fruity hints of blackberry and raspberry, it’s well worth the detour.

It would be a shame not to try at least one glass from the Ciel range at Quoi Dining!

Getting there

If you live in – or near – the Hills District, this should be on your list of top foodie spots to try. If you live further afield, it could be a bit of a schlep, so make sure you plan your journey carefully!

A five-minute walk from Norwest Metro Station, it’s reasonably accessible by public transport – especially if you live on the Lower North Shore. But, if you are travelling this way, make sure you check the schedule for your return journey as it could get tricky later at night. Better still, bring a designated driver so you can sit back and relax.

The verdict

With only 45 seats in the entire restaurant, Quoi offers a fine dining experience that’s intimate and classy without feeling pretentious. The food is of high quality and is exquisitely presented. And, with a passionate winemaker at the helm (who often comes out for a casual and friendly chat if you’re up for it), you’re in good hands. 

Whether you’re dining as a couple or as a large group, it’s an excellent spot for special occasions like anniversaries and birthdays. And, if you happen to have clients to impress in the area, it’s ideal for wining and dining.

Quoi Dining is located at Shop 6/8 Century Cct, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153
Opening Hours are Tues -Thur 5.30-10pm, Fri-Sat 12-3pm & 5.30-10pm, Sun 5.30-10pm
Booking ahead is highly recommended

About the author

Originally from Wales, Siri is a native Welsh speaker and bilingual writer living in Sydney. With a background in film and television production, particularly comedy, she loves to make people laugh - usually at her own expense. Siri writes about all sorts from film and restaurant reviews to marathon running and adventure travel. She loves pale ale and shiraz and is yet to meet a chocolate mousse she can’t devour in seconds. An intrepid adventurer trapped inside the body of a couch potato, there’s nothing Siri won’t try - but she can’t promise to be even remotely graceful while doing it.


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