Hot and Bothered – Cottage Point Inn Review
Restaurant: Cottage Point Inn
Location: 2 Anderson Place, Cottage Point NSW 2084
Chef: Guillaume Zika
Hats: 2 (2015)
Mookie has been looking forward to trying the Cottage Point Inn for some time, so there was a deal of anticipation before the day arrived – rarely a good thing in my experience. We pick up our foodie friends on the way and try to find the address on the website. The ‘how to get here’ page says the restaurant is accessible by road but doesn’t given a map or directions, rather focusing on ferries and sea planes. This is probably because what little parking exists is roadside and not a terribly pleasant walk given the steepness of the road that drops from the escarpment to the riverside where the restaurant is located. Readers do yourself a favour and catch a ferry or treat yourself to the seaplane. Needless to say on a very warm steamy day, we arrived to the restaurant very hot thanks entirely to the parking situation.
Cottage Point Inn was traditionally a bistro style restaurant and having now visited I can say it would have been well suited to that purpose given the locality and outlook. Dan McKinnon began the journey that has seen the restaurant transformed to fine dining. The last couple of years has seen the arrival of restaurant manager Shane Olesen, sommelier Jim Sanders and Chef Guillaume Zika all of whom have contributed to the transformation. Zika spent time at three Michelin starred restaurants Per Se in New York and Le Grand Vefour in Paris before moving to Claude Bosi’s two Michelin starred restaurant Hibiscus where he spent his last 18 months as head chef. More recently was an international guest chef at Balmoral’s Public Dining Room.
The menu as initially presented has a decent diversity and the wine list has a good selection of Australian and International wines. The waiter notes that a dish on the degustation menu has been swapped out (the Scampi) due to the product not being in stock and it has been replaced with another dish featuring snapper. He fetches a new print. We decide to try the degustation despite the change because it hardly seems worth the long journey to not go all out – although 3 hours does seem quite long for the number of plates. We have done many more in lesser periods. We are told after voicing our selection that another primary ingredient (Swordfish) is also not available and will be swapped with Cobia. This change, coming shortly after the previous one bothers the entire table.
The meal is pleasant but only a single dish is considered standout – Golden Malt Parfait, Compressed Watermelon, Salted Pistachio Crumb. The Grilled Leaf & Cauliflower Salad, Goats Cheese, Mint and Toasted Walnut is favoured by a majority of the table also but not so myself. The Line Caught Snapper, Served Raw, Strawberry Vierge, Celery & Basil is more to my liking and a great choice for summer but perhaps should have been served before the Veal Tartare with Oyster & Lemon Dressing, Tarragon & Caper Crackers (the richness of the Oyster & Lemon Dressing and tarragon leaves tends to linger in the mouth which doesn’t do the very light flavoured snapper any favours). The tartare itself was, however, a very well executed dish which would have starred well just prior to the sweetness of scampi (or bug or lobster for that matter).
Unfortunately I don’t feel the restaurant was at its optimum on the day we visited. The stifling humidity and some service mishaps (the change out of plates/ingredients), plus the position of our table literally in front of the door, simply didn’t allow for the food to shine through. It’s such a long trip and a long meal that we, as an audience, were in an unforgiving mood. The food was good and well executed despite the slow pacing. Next time we visit (and we will revisit) we will catch a ferry from palm beach and be sure to choose a cooler day and ask specifically for a better table. We are sure things will be better.