Escape and luxury relaxation, that’s what I was after. I needed a quite, beautiful getaway, not too far from Sydney.
That’s just what I found at Lilianfels nestled in the Blue Mountains. The boutique resort sits close to the edge of the Three Sisters Lookout in Katoomba. Katoomba and it’s surrounding villages are home to a few vintage curiosity shops which will keep me busy over the weekend.
Lilianfels has been around for a long time. It was built by Mr Frederick Darley the sixth Chief Governer of New South Wales in 1889 as a summer retreat for his family. When his daughter Lilian was 22 she died of tuberculosis and it is her Mr Darley named the original residence after. That building went on to host many international and royal visitors to Australia and is now home to Darley’s Restaurant while the later addition of the main resort is called Lilianfels.
I had tried to book a table at Darley’s on the day I arrived in Katoomba, yes I left it kind of late. It’s a popular restaurant and of course it was fully booked, but on checking into Lilianfels the front of house kindly arranged for me to have a table after 830pm. Now that’s the kind of service I like. They did warn me that they were participating in Earth Hour from 830-930pm and that my way to the restaurant would be lit by candles. If I wanted to eat to Darley’s I really had no other choice as they are only open for dinner and not on a Sunday (the only other night I was staying).
The staff at Darley’s are perfectly attentive, friendly and know their menu. They dressed a table on the enclosed verandah for me rather than sit me inside next to couples enjoying an intimate dinner. The tables had been set with large candles and I was brought another so I could easily read the menu.
I really didn’t know what to choose. The tasting menu is always great to sample what a restaurant can do but after a late lunch I opted for the three courses. The amuse bouche was a simple crispy shredded duck, beetroot cubes, cauliflower puree and boudin blanc. My entree (above) was a home cured Tasmanian salmon, with heirloom tomatoes, tomato sorbet, crab salad, tomato jelly and wasabi creme fraiche. I’m not a big fan of the whole savoury sorbet thing but it seemed to work well in this dish, providing a cooling relief for the punchy wasabi. On my waiters suggestion the dish was perfectly matched with a glass of 2008 Eagle Vale Semillon Sauvignon Blanc ($16).
As you can see taking photos by candlelight did play havoc with the point and shoot. Red Gate partridge confit, celeriac puree, en crepinette, and a blackberry jus was a strong autumn main. Darley’s certainly don’t skimp on the wine and I was wading my way through a large glass of 2009 Hewitson “Baby Bush” Mourvedre ($15).
A pre dessert amuse bouche of organic raspberry jelly, chocolate squares, hazelnut cream and toffee shards was completely delicious.
I decided to ignore the popular rhubarb/pannacotta dessert for the passionfruit souffle and sour apple granita for dessert. The souffle was fluffy and softly scented with passionfruit. I liked the sour apple granita and the flavours worked well together but I wasn’t keen on jumping between the hot souffle and icy cold granita.
Staying at Lilianfels is like escaping to a place of soft down lined beds, white fluffy robes, foggy mornings and elegant dinners. Lilianfels also hosts afternoon tea in the beautiful lounge area of the main resort. I’m definitely planning my winter escape there, to sit by their fireplace sipping tea and eating cake. Oh and not to mention the vintage shopping fix I will require by then too.
(Dinner was $125 for three course, not including drinks.)