In Short: Bistro on Bettington delivers a fine dining experience that is delicious to the last morsel and extremely good value. Our tip is to definitely try their pork belly to start, a main of their rib eye, and finish off with a soufflé.
Quite often, we food bloggers are consumed in the bubble of what’s new and happening, whether it be on Instagram, Zomato, Broadsheet, or the Good Food Guide, we miss amazing little restaurants and eateries doing sublime food, without the hype of overflowing fairy floss milkshakes or burgers so big and packed with cheese that it just might be the diner’s undoing. For this author, a passion for food is only matched by the love of cycling. I have made some great friendships out on the road, and it is one of those friendships which led to an invite to dine at Bistro at Bettington.
Before the bike, there was golf! I spent many years (without success) out on golf courses trying to improve my handicap. Most weeks were spent trying to obtain precious tee off time on a Sunday afternoon, packing the cart and clubs and traveling all over Sydney for 18 holes. On the food front, the best I could expect were sausage rolls or a pie from the warming oven. On the other hand, a visit to Singapore and the opportunity to play with my father-in-law at a private golf club, opened up a whole new world. You see, in South East Asia, food and golf are on equal standing. Each round was preceded with lunch, a good competitive round of golf, drinks, a shower, and then finally a gourmet dinner. It was the whole social aspect that was so endearing and enjoyable.
While it may never reach that level here in Australia, private golf clubs like Oatlands, are investing in bringing in cooking talent to lure their members to stay on post-round and enjoy a fine dining experience, along with a view of their beautifully groomed fairways and immaculately manicured greens.
At Bistro on Bettington, Head Chef Paul Bacon and Sous Chef Dirk Podro are delivering plates of food that could only be described as exquisite! In 2018, Bacon and Pedro competed at the Clubs NSW Chef’s Table. A gruelling 3-day cook off resulted in the pair from Oatlands capturing a top 10 placing overall and the top golf kitchen in NSW!
The Sydney Coco and Vine team spent Valentine’s evening dining with 40 other diners at Bistro on Bettington. Each month, guests are invited to try a fine dining menu, consisting of an amuse-bouché and three courses. It’s a carefully curated menu where the emphasis is on quality and seasonality of ingredients. The menu is made up of three entrees, four mains, and four desserts to choose from.
What I loved about our experience was the efficiency of the kitchen. There was a nice pace to the evening, and while we were there for a little longer because of all the photos I was taking, I could see that some diners were in and out of the restaurant in just over an hour having gone through their three courses. To start off our experience, our amuse bouché was a shot glass filled with a soup of Potato, Leek, and Lemongrass. It was just the shot to bring the palate alive. I loved the prominent flavour of lemongrass which reminded me of a Thai green curry.
From the flavours of Thailand, we came hurtling back to Australia with a beautifully presented plate of Pork Belly and Panko Crumbed Scallop. I sliced into the glorious pork belly which was soft and tender. It was buttery and rich, and I appreciated how well it had been cooked with the belly being rendered perfectly. The crackling was so crispy that the crunch could be heard from across the room! If the perfect pork belly was a great entree, it was followed by a perfectly cooked scallop which was sweet and supple with a thin crust of the panko crumb.
If my entree was an exercise in restraint and minimalism, Mavis’s choice of the Seafood Assiette was all about a pretty beach of seafood. It began with an oyster sitting on a bed of rock salt. A classic Kilpatrick preparation meant the oyster was grilled in its brine with crispy bacon bits and the tang of Worcestershire sauce. A large juicy tiger prawn was next to be devoured. Gently poached and served with a zingy citrus and avocado mousse, it was light with the sweet prawn flavour coming through. The definite star of the dish had to be the Singapore Soft Shell crab. Anything that has Singapore in its title or description, has Mavis intrigued. She still steadfastly holds onto that red passport of her home country, and loves the opportunity to try anything that would bring back food memories of home; after-all, chilli crab is Singapore’s national dish! By all accounts she must have approved, as I did not even get a taste. She conveyed that the crab had superbly crispy batter, and the sauce was divine with hints of chilli and sweetness.
If the entrees exhibited finesse and flavour, the mains took it up a notch. Hickory Smoked Rib Eye with Grilled Prawn, Mac ‘n’ Cheese Stuffed Mushroom and Green Peppercorn Jus was one of our mains. If that does not entice you, you are hard to please. It was a tour de force or the ultimate surf ‘n’ turf. First, about that rib eye. Oatlands has invested in a smoke room for their meats. Pre-smoking imparted a fragrant, sweet flavour into the meat. A spiced up rub was applied, and then it was slow cooked for most of the day at 60 degrees, and then carved up. The result is supremely tender meat, cooked medium rare. It’s immensely satisfying with a combination of smoky plus sweet flavours, and finally a slow burn from the spiced rub kicks in towards the end of each mouthful. I would have been satisfied with that steak alone, but there was more. A lightly grilled prawn with a garlic and parsley sauce was soft, sweet, and delicious. A surprise mac ‘n’ cheese stuffed mushroom was creamy and earthy. A spectacular main, that I could hear being ordered continually through the evening.
A second main we sampled was a Seared Duck Breast with King Brown Mushroom, Pumpkin Puree, Crushed New Potato and Broccoli. Served with a pink blush on each slice of meat, I knew that it had been cooked to perfection. Each forkful revealed that characteristic sweet taste of duck, with an added bonus of a smoky flavour, reminiscent of the hickory smoked rib eye. The king brown mushroom was soft and velvety in its texture. I loved its delicate flavour which, while savoury, was more akin to seafood rather than the earthy flavours of traditional mushrooms. The way that Bistro on Bettington cooked and served its crushed new potatoes was new to me, and it won me over with its play between two textures; crispy bits dispersed between a soft mashed-up centre. Finally, I cannot forget the pumpkin puree; it was quite special. Most pumpkin purees are too sweet for my liking but this one had a delicious savoury intensity, that I wish I could bottle and take home!
After epic mains, we were ready to roll out. I would have settled for a few holes on the immaculate looking course outside, but there were desserts. By now, I was expecting big things after four stunning plates earlier on in the evening, and the kitchen continued to deliver. Belgian Chocolate Semifreddo with Chocolate Sponge, White Chocolate Crumb, and Raspberry Sorbet. Beautiful to the eye, delicious in my mouth. If you have not tried a semifreddo, you will have stop in at Bistro on Bettington to try this dessert. A cool mousse-type texture with rich chocolate flavour comes through. Then, there was more chocolate with the whimsical chocolate sponge element. It was light and airy, and yum! The raspberry sorbet was refreshing, and a beautiful palate cleansing finish.
A fitting finale was a Passionfruit Soufflé with Coconut Ice-Cream. It was funny, the previous night we had been watching a cooking show where an amateur cook tried to present a soufflé that ended up resembling a muffin. Leave it to the pros at Bistro on Bettington to produce the perfect soufflé that stood tall, rising out of its ramekin. Our soufflé was light, soft, and a cloud of goodness. A surprise was in store with warm pieces of passionfruit stewed in its juices sitting at the bottom. Mavis loves her baking and even she was amazed as to how the chef managed to incorporate this element and still get that majestic rise of the soufflé. Equally outstanding was the coconut ice-cream. It was not too sweet, with textures of coconut flesh through the smooth cream. It sits on a bed of chocolate soil and well…chocolate and ice-cream, who doesn’t love that?!
I will remember Valentine’s Day in 2019 for a delightful food discovery. If you are a member of Oatlands Golf Club and reading this, you need to book a table at the next monthly Fine Dining evening. If you are a non-member, Oatlands Golf Club welcomes to you come and dine at their monthly dining event. If it is anything like the food we sampled, you are in for a real treat. Friendly service, a well oiled kitchen, and an amazing menu all points to a thoroughly enjoyable evening at Bistro on Bettington.