When you think of the Hills you don’t immediately think of fine dining. Sure, there are a few great spots that have sprung up lately and you can enjoy a nice dinner out, but actual fine dining is rare. Well we’re pleased that we can now add this string to our area’s bow with the opening of Rawsons at The Epping Club. And yes, while technically not ‘the Hills’ we’re always partial to claiming something as our own if it’s good!
The restaurant at The Epping Club has seen numerous incarnations, but we like this new one the best! Under the management of acclaimed Executive Chef Nick Whitehouse the newly launched restaurant claims honest, seasonal food with a whimsical twist. And we think this is an excellent summary.
Chef Whitehouse boasts a prestigious career working in Europe, Asia and Australia as well as appearing on Channel Ten’s Masterchef ‘The Professionals’. His experience includes a number of Hatted and Michelin Star restaurants around the world. Here at Rawsons, his style incorporates traditional cooking techniques and a passion for quality, local ingredients in line with the seasons.
We dined with a large group which was a bonus on two fronts: 1) We were able to make use of the divine private dining room, feeling slightly like celebrities, even if we had a bit of the kids’ mac n cheese dinner on our top. And 2) This enables you to check out, and possibly sample depending on how generous your dining neighbour is, a wide array of dishes.
While we were spoilt in our own dining room, it’s worth noting that the other areas of the restaurant are also very pleasant to spend time in – yes, this is fine dining but in a relaxed setting which always makes for a more comfortable and enjoyable evening.
The staff was attentive and knowledgeable and ran through the menu and specials, explaining the ingredients and cooking techniques.
We were treated to a little amuse bouche of pumpkin soup – a classic that when done well, like in this instance, is always so tasty and enjoyable. There was a bit of a jostle and some negotiating to determine who would have the special scallops for entree as there were only two serves remaining. The lucky scallop consumers agreed they were delicious – plump, juicy and generous, complemented perfectly by the Asian style dressing.
Another entree that was very well received was the whipped goats curd ricotta with scorched tomatoes, basil and aged balsamic. These seemingly simple dishes are usually anything but. The recipient of this dish at our table said the tomatoes were divine – firm and sweet. They paired beautifully with the rich creaminess of the ricotta. And we will add that they were also just plain pretty!
As far as mains go, we always like to check out the fish and the steak on a menu – two things we feel we can’t cook as well at home. We were pleased to see that there were a couple of options of each on the Rawsons menu. First up was the flat iron steak with roasted onion, mushroom, watercress and a proper red wine sauce. Because we were sitting across the large table from this meaty morsel we didn’t get to sample it, but Helena described it as “Delicious! The meat was succulent, cooked to perfection and melted in your mouth. The mushroom and onion were a great match of course.”
The 42 degree Huon salmon was accompanied by cauliflower, red chard and puffed grains. It looked stunning on the plate and Karen said after she’d polished it off that “it really was a delicious piece of fish… fresh and light tasting. The flavour of the puffed grains went well with the fish although I did feel like I was eating from the cereal box a bit!” Slightly Heston which is a bit of fun!
Dessert, as is often the case, was highly anticipated and there were a couple of stand outs. The chocolate marquise with cherry sorbet and coconut was rich and decadent while not overly sweet. It was also the perfect size, enabling Karen to totally polish it off and lick the plate clean before we managed to snap a pic, so we had to raid Instagram to get you a good photo of it – thanks @willxia1 for this great shot of a great dessert.
And we figure it’s only right to finish off with the raspberry souffle. A souffle on any menu is always a drawcard – maybe because of the extra 15 minutes it demands. Claire, the fortunate consumer of this raspberry laced version, declared it was “to die for. Very fluffy and not too sweet.” Sounds like souffle perfection.
We thoroughly enjoyed our evening. The dishes were a pleasure to see and an even greater pleasure to eat. The private dining room (or chef’s table for that matter) would make for a great civilised hen’s party, baby shower celebration or a special girls’ night out. The restaurant is lovely if you’re celebrating an anniversary or birthday for example. Rawsons is definitely one to keep in mind next time you’re looking for somewhere a little bit special in the area.
The Epping Club, 45 Rawson St, Epping
02 9876 4357
Rawsons is open Wednesday – Sunday and has both a Private Dining Room seating 14 and Chef’s Table seating 10.
Thanks to Rawsons for hosting us.