Vintage Tastes, Modern Flavours: Palette Dining, Katoomba
Proving That Everything Old, Is New Again
By Kitty Von Tastique
It seems as though these days we are forever seeking the elusive 'next big thing' in food and somehow forgetting to reflect on the past in our dining.
I'm always relieved when I hear of someone who is willing to nod to this legacy. Someone who will embrace both the old and the new. Who will invent a new creation using the inspiration of what has gone before.
I was indeed blessed with this experience when I recently visited Palette Dining, a new restaurant helmed by owner and chef, Petrina Kerr and sommelier Matt Hardy.
For someone of Kerr's impeccable pedigree (she has catered at Buckingham Palace and for Elton John) you would expect a certain degree of distance to be maintained between herself and her clientele but in fact nothing could be further from the truth.
She is warm, open, and driven, with a passion to keep 'paying it forward'. After inheriting her grandmother's house and garden three years ago, Kerr decided to make the 'green-change' and move to the mountains. Kerr now uses her grandmother's legacy of love, to bring special flavours and seasonality to her dishes. On the night we dined this included borage flowers, kale leaves, herbs and rhubarb, which all came from the garden that her grandmother established so many years ago.
“I've never been a green thumb until now, but now I put something in the ground and I'm like 'Oh my gosh it grew!' It's all that care and attention that she put into the soil. She always had a market garden wherever she lived and she supported her seven kids” says Kerr.
Every mouthful feels familiar, yet fresh, Kerr drawing on 'old-fashioned' favourites like fennel and rhubarb to pay tribute to the past and then flipping them on their heads through playful preparation, presentation and well-balanced flavours.
She hopes to establish a rooftop garden and hive (we were lucky to take a peek at its beginnings), so her employees can appreciate the growing process, and she harvests many of her ingredients and accompanying wine list from the surrounding areas. She even recently took her staff on a local truffle expedition.. Her grand plan is to bring people to the area for a truly, regional 'foodie' experience.
The restaurant itself is steeped in history. Located in the iconic Niagara building in Katoomba, built in 1905, the building has been home to a drapery, ice-cream parlour and various eating establishments in its lifetime. The building itself is well known for its Art Deco style facade, installed in 1922, which is now a local landmark.
The inside however, has been renewed to include an upstairs gallery space to support local artists and has the perfect ambience for a cosy rendezvous by the giant windows overlooking the street below.
Downstairs the original shopfront windows remain and there are traces of the original stained glass windows, monogram 'N' for Niagara and outside that iconic neon 'Niagara' sign has been refreshed to glow-on for many years to come.
Our weekend foodie adventure in the Blue Mountains was the perfect example of an amazing restaurant paying tribute to the past by being excellent in the present. Embracing the legacy it has been graciously given and letting that shine, through its world-class offerings.
I would not be surprised to see the Blue Mountains soon become a solid foodie destination, and when that happens this fabulous restaurant should be given top place on the map!
Palette Dining are located at:
The Niagara Building
92 Bathurst Rd, Katoomba, NSW
Ph: 02 4782 9530
Artwork in Palette Dining from the ‘Unpopular Penguins’ exhibition by Ben Tankard
The writer dined as a guest at Palette Dining.
ALSO PUBLISHED IN VINTAGE LIFE MAGAZINE, JANUARY 2017