Published on February 3rd, 2014 | by Ann Rickard0
Berardo’s Restaurant – Degustation Menu
IT had been a while since we’d indulged in the degustation menu at berardo’s, so to prepare for the big culinary occasion we let our stomachs empty throughout the day and sat down to six courses of fine dining prepared by executive chef Tim Montgomery.
Actually, it was seven courses if you count the amuse bouche, eight if take into consideration the soupcon of gelati to clear the palate before dessert.
Many regard berardo’s as a place for special occasions and although the restaurant is all-white elegance and style and the service is pampering to the extreme, berardo’s is for all budgets.
The degustation menu ($95) is excellent value for the number of courses and the extraordinary amount of work that goes into each dish.
At the other end of the scale, the locals’ special at $39 for two courses, $49 for three, with a glass of wine, is given the same precise and dedicated approach to produce and presentation as the multi-course menu, and is affordable enough to warrant a visit every week (more often if you love your restaurant outings.)
The a la carte menu also offers appropriate value with main courses averaging $37, and a wine list that covers all budgets. (Okay, if you’re a big spender you can really go to town with a bottle of Krug at around $1000, but there are a good number of wines by the glass at $9.)
“There is a misconception that berardo’s is a special occasion restaurant,” Tim said. “It is very accessible and the locals’ menu is a good way for people to be introduced to berardo’s.”
Another way to introduce yourself to this nationally known restaurant is through the author/ celebrity lunches throughout the year. Tim enjoys devising a themed three-course menu for these events at a modest cost.
Since he took up nthe position of executive chef three months ago, Tim has embraced Noosa, the restaurant and the local produce. “I go to the farmers’ markets, meet the producers and cheese makers,” he said. “The produce here is phenomenal. The Noosa spanner crab is an iconic product. It has been a bit of a linchpin that hasn’t changed on the berardo’s menu. I put it with a celeriac remoulade for a classical French approach, but use locally grown leaves and flowers to decorate it.”
With a degree in visual arts (gained in a former life before he realised his true talent lay in waiting in the kitchen) Tim’s food presentation is picturesque. His use of organic flowers and petals elevates each dish to a culinary work of art.
Even chicken wings take on the appearance of an art installation when teamed with curry “granola”, cauliflower and apricot.
Duck breast, from Dutton Park, looks as pretty as a picture when presented in a neat square on flaked almonds with half a grilled peached and a restrained touch of fresh leaves. It’s eating with the eyes as well as the palate.
Every dish came as a special treat.
A Belgian chocolate extravaganza with malt, salted caramel, chocolate mousse and Brewers malt ice cream made a sweet ending to the grand occasion (followed by sweet dreams.)
Tim is constantly looking at bringing his artistic expertise to dishes – a good example is his chicken liver pate with cream and Madera which he calls “faux gras”.
“Foie gras is such a controversial product, I go out of my way to make a dish that’s ‘faux’ but just as smooth and delicious as foie gras,” he said.
After an apprenticeship at Oxford restaurant in Adelaide where media reviews kept getting better during Tim’s duration, he went on to Bathers Pavilion to work with celebrity chef Serge Denserau.
“It was hard but good,” he said. “It was an aggressive kitchen but stimulating. Serge was a gentle guy but the kitchen was run like the army.
” Such a talented chef soon came to the notice of Jim Berardo who invited Tim to be part of the 2007 Noosa International Food & Wine Festival and later approached him to take on the role as berardo’s executive chef.
“Jim wanted me to find my own Noosa style, to have my own take on Noosa cuisine and the produce.
The climate here means people don’t want heavy food. I like to keep it interesting, do more cutting-edge stuff, but at the same time keep it all accessible. It is all about the customers – what they want. If they get to know the way I do things, then trust the way I do things, the rest will fall into place.
“Berardo’s is a highprofile restaurant and Jim has been in the industry a long time. He carries a big reputation.” We’ll drink to that.