The Restaurant at Blue Wren, Mudgee, NSW
Bringing fine dining to the country, its not hard to see why this restaurant has made a name for itself as one of Mudgee’s top restaurants, and owner and chef Kip Harris has it down to a fine art.
Passion, precision and creativity are prevalent in everything from the décor to the food in this understated, yet elegant restaurant, which seats just 12, plus four at the Chef’s Table – a next-level dining experience in its own right.
Watching Chef Kip and sous-chef Steven work in their uniquely customised, ever-changing kitchen (“everything is on wheels” Chef Kip tells us) is fascinating in itself –the creativity, the subtle nods and looks of approval between the two, the super-human attention to detail as Chef Kip meticulously assembles the elements on each and every plate, piece by piece, evoking a slight pang of guilt when its time to devour the art on a plate. Fluid and experimental in his approach, anything can change at any given moment – there’s no menu, adding a touch of suspense.
Quite the mad hatter in the kitchen, Chef Kip enjoys watching you play the guessing game as you experience the various textures, shapes, colours and flavours – things are not what they seem, and they certainly don’t taste how they look, turning your perception upside down.
Featuring seasonally-focused ingredients, and each dish finely matched to a Blue Wren wine, our imaginative five-course, tasting menu had a somewhat yin and yang theme – delicate, light, and feminine flavours harmoniously paired with stronger, sharper and moodier ones, with each dish plated on a black or white plate.
Highlights included the creamed pea puree with asparagus, peas, and broad beans – a thick, creamy broth taken up a notch with a 65-degree egg, truffle oil and parmesan, and a chateaubriand steak fillet with cacao, gold and silver black pudding, a green sponge bread made from spinach and the ultimate kicker, a marmite foam, with a delicate, bubbly texture, yet a sharp and salty flavour.
Almost three hours later, it was a taste journey, and a truly exceptional one at that – all you need is an open mind, a sense of adventure, and an appetite.
When I asked Chef Kip how he would describe his food, he simply said “memorable,” – and that, it certainly was.
Photography by For Foods Sake