The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide has awarded Bowral's Biota Dining the prestigious La Maison du Regional Restaurant of the Year for NSW and ACT.
Every second chef is banging on about local, seasonal, and sustainable food these days. For Biota head chef James Viles, those concepts aren't just niceties to sprinkle on the menu. They inform every one of the stunningly plated and delicious dishes at Biota.
''We try to focus on less is more,'' says Viles, who can't stand the word ''garnish''.
''The team and I ask ourselves, 'Is this enough for us? Does this food tell the story of our region and is it perfect?' There's such beauty in a perfect piece of duck. Why add anything that doesn't need to be there?''
Viles has built solid relationships with the local farmers and producers who supply the kitchen. He regularly forages for wild food in the forests of the southern highlands and beaches of the south coast.
There's also Biota's own kitchen garden on-site, which expanded this year by way of a 40-metre polytunnel greenhouse.
A community-based project to grow plant shoots in the greenhouse is in development. In an exercise in soil recycling, Biota Seedlings will deliver and collect trays of live shoots in the soil to other kitchens. Viles says he has the resources to do 450 trays a month.
Viles and sommelier Ben Shephard also switched to a fully Australian wine list this year, with many drops sourced from local producers. ''It just wasn't making sense to have international bottles with our food, so we decided to go down the all-domestic road with the wine as well,'' Viles says.
Restaurants that fly the localism flag but feature little to no NSW or Australian wine should take note.
Biota also has 12 rooms available for overnight stays.
Traipsing straight to bed, instead of waiting for a cab, after a five-course meal and a couple of nightcaps?