RAWSONS RESTAURANT is located in the 5-Star Epping Club in, you guessed it, Epping. After picking my parents up from Manly it took us over an hour to get there, you could say we were famished by the time we arrived and mum was questioning my sanity as a food blogger who travels this far for a meal. It is with HUGE thanks to the venue and Papaya PR that I attended this surprising venue and was allowed to bring the parents along, they always love the royal treatment so they excused the two hours of travel for a meal.
RAWSONS RESTAURANT VENUE:
As mentioned Rawson’s is located inside the 5 Star Epping Club, a sub-branch of the R.S.L. of Australia. The club itself is stunning, with a central area that faces a sweeping staircase to the upper levels. It isn’t like any R.S.L. I have ever seen and I was quite interested in the place, I spent some time in R.S.L. Clubs with the grandparents growing up and wish the ones we visited back then were more like this.
Rawsons itself is located off to the right and is a massive venue. As you enter the massive kitchen is to the left and the bar is to the right. The first section of seating is more like a bistro or an upmarket Sizzler in design. It can cater to large numbers. The back right is a raised, more illustriously designed section, where patrons are seated first as they arrive with tables then being allocated outwards from this area.
Then there is two more private dining areas, the one below behind a wall of wine bottles and another in a private closed room. The design is impressive and you will definitely not think you are even close to an R.S.L.
EXECUTIVE CHEF NICK WHITEHOUSE:
“Under the management of acclaimed Executive Chef Nick Whitehouse and Restaurants & Bar Manager Ryan Clarke, Rawsons claims honest, seasonal food with a whimsical twist.
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.
Chef Whitehouse’s culinary style will incorporate traditional cooking techniques and passion for quality, local ingredients to create modern timeless dishes in line with the seasons.”
Our dining experience got off to a rocky start. It wasn’t all bells and whistles but the food was sensational. We were told a menu had been selected for us for the evening and would have matching wines. We were served some delicious bread and I ordered an extra drink to get started for the parental units – I was just recovering from a hideous flu and was taking it easy. Mum’s delicious wine arrived in next to no time but I had to request the beer for my stepdad twice as it never came. There was also no wine with the first course?
The first course we were all served the “OG” House Smoked Salmon – this came with capers, rye crumbs and sour cream cheese. The flavour combination was a winner and you can see the difference an experienced Chef brings. That simple addition of rye crumbs took this simple dish to another level. Just superb.
But I did speak to the staff after this, not being a whiny “one of those” patrons, but suggesting with three people they bring three different dishes. More dishes equals more photos and more publicity. Something that will benefit both the blogger and the venue.
I would have killed for the Pork Knuckle Terrine and drool just thinking about the Salt and Pepper Calamari. Sure Salt and Pepper Calamari sounds standard, but when you read that it comes with lime caramel it needs to be tried! And don’t get me started on my level of drool at the thought of Duck Fat Chips with a Hen’s Egg.
We got three different mains and the food game was A-Grade. It was weird that following on from a salmon entree I got a salmon main. It was too much salmon but it was an interesting dish. Serving the salmon main cold, while balanced and tasty with marvellous flavour, also felt odd. Perhaps it is more my life conditioning but I would always expect a main salmon dinner dish to be warm. However as a summer lunch, without having salmon as the entree, this would be my meal of choice.
Mum’s gnocchi appeared to be one of the highlights of the mains. Potato gnocchi with curry leaf butter, pine nuts, raisins, chard and sourdough pangratatto. My number two gnocchi of all time so far (behind Mowbray Eatery in Lane Cove). The hints of curry leaf with the further ingredients added a unique flavour that made the dish incredibly difficult for mum to share. I would return for this dish alone.
Another dish I would also return for is the steaks or anything off the grill menu. Fish, pork belly, chicken, their standard steaks and then their Kilcoy Estate Dry Aged Meats. I want them all. They use traditional methods for dry ageing their own beef and cut it all themselves before dry ageing for 28 days with aromatics. The step-dad and I shared both the cold salmon and the steak. We didn’t have the dry aged beef, we had what would be called their standard beef although standard could be taken as an insult. The smoked rump cap was one of the single best cuts of beef I have ever eaten. The red wine jus paired with tender and perfectly cooked meat was a match made in heaven.
The mains were accompanied with some sensational sides. Don’t know how they did it but their onion rings were next level. I wouldn’t find onion rings something that could be standout but they were. As were the triple fried chips and their green salad. The fries were more wedges but the triple frying makes me salivate thinking about them again. The salad was a simple wilted lettuce salad with a somewhat crouton crumb. A paired back Caesar if you will.
THE DESSERTS THOUGH:
As we were finishing the mains I was very eager to get home. I was just recovering from a hellish flu and wasn’t even close to 100%. But Executive Chef Nick came and joined us. He was incredibly patient putting up with a near non-responsive me as he talked through his cooking beliefs, his time on Masterchef and his vision for Rawsons. It was incredibly interesting and his regular “appreciation nights” are something to look forward to. They have done a Duck Appreciation night, a Beer night where every meal is matched with beers and there are many more nights planned into the future. Hit up their website and social media to find out what appreciation nights will be coming. I want to get back there for a duck night!!
While Nick talked he had delivered three of their desserts. All three of them were some of the most divine desserts I have added to my waistline. The Plant Pot Chocolate Fondant with Milk Gelato was a chocolate heaven and I love how it was served in a small clay pot. And that milk gelato was a balancing beauty – I could have licked that bowl clean. The strawberry and rhubarb panna cotta surprisingly was my favourite. As a chocoholic I was surprised about this but the freshness and elements on this plate were sublime. And then there was their famous “Snickers.” A Snickers inspired dessert Chef claims was better than the real thing. I thought he was just being cocky until I put it in my mouth and moaned in chocolate ecstasy. Lucky for me Mum doesn’t eat peanuts. Sharing was OUT.
I am still surprised that Rawsons Restaurant is in an R.S.L.. The food from Executive Chef Nick Whitehouse is the master stroke of this venue. I will definitely return for more.
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 3/3 food, 1/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 1/1 toilets and 0/1 bonus
Rawsons Restaurant Deets:
PH: (02) 9876 4357
45 Rawson Street, Epping, Sydney
HOURS | Lunch & Dinner
- Closed Mon & Tue
- Wed – Sat | 12pm – 3pm & 6pm – late
- Sun | 12pm – 3pm
HOURS | Breakfast
- Mon – Fri | 7:30am – 11:30am (from the Brasserie)
- Sat & Sun | 9am – 11:30am
LOCAL DELIVERY: No
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes
KID FRIENDLY: Yes
*** JK (and any guests of Spooning Australia) were invited guests of the establishment and/or any PR agencies representing them. However, as always, if it was shite I would happily tell you as such.