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DESTINATION: NSW Southern Highlands

By JOHN ROZENTALS

TRAVEL: 06 FEBRUARY 2017

JOHN ROZENTALS discovers a cerebral, gastronomic and aesthetic combination in the NSW Southern Highlands

So, why is Bendooley Estate, on the once-hectic, these days quite relaxed Old Hume Hume Highway, just north-east of historic Berrima in the NSW Southern Highlands, so popular?

The answer, I guess, is that it appeals to several major sections of the population — sections which are quite important in themselves and, quite often, have sizeable overlaps. You shouldn’t need any knowledge of boolean algebra to appreciate the significance of that.

Firstly, its centrepiece is the Berkelouw Book Barn, the headquarters and major showcase for one of Australia’s major book retailers.

Secondly, that barn contains a very fine restaurant and a tasting area which offers a pretty good range of cool-climate wines made mostly from estate-grown fruit and grapes purchased from nearby Southern Highlands sites.

Thirdly, its hugely picturesque setting and ability to provide fine food and wine make it one of Australia most eagerly sought wedding locations.

The patriarch of the business is Leo Berkelouw, a highly successful Sydney book retailer who purchased Bendooley Estate in 1977 and established it as his business and family headquarters. Leo still lives on the estate.

These days, customers browse through and sit among the many shelves of books as they enjoy the delights of chef Benn Troy’s menu, which features many items celebrating Southern Highlands producers.

The heart of my particular dish is hardly local, but on my last couple of visits I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the linguine served with blue-swimmer crab, chilli, garlic, lemon and gremolata.

The linguini has been al dente as ideally required, the crab both delicious and adequate in proportion, and the sauce beautifully led by the bite of fresh chilli. I’m hardly surprised that it’s one of Troy’s most popular dishes.

Other offerings include slow-braised lamb shoulder and a 250g black angus eye fillet, with plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options options also available.

Wood-fired pizzas also feature prominently on the menu, including a combination of slow-cooked pork belly, radicchio, coriander and chipotle sauce.

The Woman with Altitude’s asparagus-and-jamon version was also topped with truffle oil and shaved grana padano — an altogether delicious combination sitting on a thin, crisply delivered base.

All up, a visit to Bendooley Estate is a well spent few hours combining the cerebral, the gastronomic and the purely aesthetic. If that doesn’t add up to to a delightful day out I’m not sure what does.

What it's all about ... a combination of a vast array of books, good food and fine wine ... that's what Bendooley Estate is all about. All images: John Rozentals

IF YOU GO

Bendooley Estate, 3020 Old Hume Highway, Berrima NSW 2577

Phone: 02 4877 2231 (cellar door); 02 4877 2235 (restaurant); 02 4877 1370 (book barn)

Web: http://www.bendooleyestate.com.au

The original John Olsen painting above the bar in the Bendooley tasting room.