Dreamer, wordsmith, mum of two - I enjoy the outdoors, good food and good company. Subscribe to my articles to follow what I've been up to, and like those articles you want to see more of so I can tailor what I write to my audience.
This fabulous little dining destination is a jewel of the Northern Beaches area, with an impressive reputation that is in stark contrast to the small simple cottage within which it is housed. It can seat up to forty people (but I think that would be a squeeze).
inside Clareville kiosk when it had just opened for lunch. It didn't stay empty for long
It was awarded one chefs hat in the Sydney Morning Herald 2015 Good Food Guide, which is the third year in a row that it has managed this feat, and has a number of other awards jingling around its belt, which I don't feel it's necessary to go into more detail about. But does it live up to its lofty reputation? Actually, I think it does.
We were impressed by the candour of the waiter who served us, who consented to take happy snaps of us and answered all our daft questions about the menu/ wine list with good humour and grace (we drank a lot of champagne and our questions got sillier through the afternoon). There was no stuffiness or pretentiously over-embellished food descriptions from our waiter either, which can sometimes be a bit annoying with some of the high-end fine dining venues. Service was relaxed and done with a cheerful, easy-going smile, surrounded by quality tableware and settings, and interesting original artworks on the wall. This was so my kind of dining environment. We also liked seeing the staff going out to the herb garden out the front and picking fresh herbs for the meals they were preparing - a small thing, but notable nevertheless.
I am not a vegetarian and generally avoid vegetarian dishes, but this grilled leek mustard cream cashew concoction was delicious and looked so elegant on the plate. The caramelisation of the leek played off the piquant flavour of the mustard perfectly, with the cashew giving a nice crunchy texture to round out the experience (in plain parlance, yum yum yum!).
Buckwheat' and 'burnt eggplant' don't sound particularly appetizing, but I was curious enough to give it a go. I'm really glad I did. The burnt eggplant had the smokiness I would more commonly associate with a good quality scotch. That probably doesn't sound particularly appetizing either, even though it was, in a robust kind of way (I think you just have to try it to understand).
This was my favourite part of the meal. Again, curiosity got the better of me. I like parsnips. But in a parfait? It worked. The parsnip flavour was subtle but detectable, and the crispy, sweet and light meringue bark was a treat against the cool smoothness of the parfait. The slate plate it was served on was cool too.
It's probably worth noting that the menu is very limited (when we were there, they had four entrées, four mains and three desserts on the menu) - however what they do, they do very well.
If you're coming for lunch on a weekend, be prepared to drive around looking for a carspot and cursing a lot. Beware the traffic wardens circling here like vultures - they're familiar with the plight of would-be visitors, and the roads around here are too narrow in places to be able to park legally (you know the rule about having at least three metres between your car and the double white centre lines on the road, right?). There was a parking inspector out with her measuring tape gleefully measuring out the distance between cars and centre lines when I visited and slapping tickets on those cars which failed the test. I'd recommend you carpool if you visit at lunch. If you're prepared to walk for five minutes, you can find a park somewhere on Hudson Parade, but keep on eye on the width of the road where you park!
There is a council car park right opposite Clareville Kiosk, which I suspect would be fine for dinner guests. The only problem is that if you're coming for lunch, this car park is crammed full of people taking their boats out on the weekend.
council carpark at lunch - not a spot left for even the tiniest smartcar to fit
It got a little warm while we were lunching there - the sun shone directly into the restaurant and while there was a fan and air conditioning, the heat levels did get quite toasty. It was in the mid-thirties when we visited though, so probably not indicative of the average day.
But other than these minor gripes, the food, service and ambiance were simply lovely. Some reviews complain about the serving sizes being too small here, but I prefer to walk out of a meal feeling replete rather than bloated. And as far as one-hat restaurants go, I thought the price was excellent value - $55 per person for a three course meal (not including wine). I would highly recommend a visit to Clareville Kiosk if you're up around the Avalon area and are looking for a fine-dining experience in a relaxed, lovely setting.
It's open for dinner Wednesday to Saturday, from 6pm to 9.30pm, and for lunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 12pm and 2.30pm.