Hat's Off!

hatsoffPHOTO: Chef Daniel Cabban from Arrana

With five Blue Mountains restaurants awarded ‘hats’ by the 2022 Australian Good Food Guide, the future for Blue Mountains fine dining looks bright.

By Julie Miller

As the Blue Mountains gourmet scene continues to gain traction, so do the accolades. In February 2022, the Australian Good Food Guide announced its annual Restaurant Awards, with five Blue Mountains establishments winning coveted Chef Hats in recognition of their excellence.

Leading the charge with three hats is the Wolgan Dining Room, the in-house restaurant at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley Resort. Available to in-house guests only, this new collaboration between the Bentley Group - steered by Chef Brent Savage and Sommelier Nick Hildebrandt - features a menu inspired by seasonal organic ingredients sourced from local farms and private growers within a 160-kilometre radius, with the award a fitting tribute to the region’s amazing produce and incredible wines.

Opening between lockdowns in October 2020, Arrana in Springwood is an exciting addition to the Lower Mountains dining scene, with its two Chef Hats accolade a well-deserved nod to its exceptional levels of dining and service.

“To be awarded two Chefs Hats after opening just 16 months ago has caught us all by surprise,” Arrana’s maître de Leisa Cabban says. “It’s an absolute honour for our executive chef and creative mastermind, Daniel Cabban, who is extremely proud and humbled.”

Arrana’s overnight success would never have been possible, Ms Cabban says, without the overwhelming support of the local community, who embraced the new restaurant and its fine dining concept with gusto during a difficult period.

“We thought we were on the right track based on the feedback we were getting from our guests,” she says. “They would often say ‘it’s just a matter of time before you get a hat’. It’s something that was mentioned occasionally, but our chef’s aim has always been to provide a memorable dining experience that makes our guests want to return. The focus is always on giving them fantastic food and an enjoyable time.”

Copy_of_IMG_4904.jpegPHOTO: Arrana

Joining Arrana with two Chefs Hats in 2022 is Darley's Restaurant at Lilianfels Resort & Spa in Katoomba. A stalwart in the Blue Mountains dining scene, Darley's is the most consistently awarded restaurant in the region, its excellence in service and ambience as evergreen as its delectable menu presented with finesse and attention to detail.

Part of the Escarpment Group, Darley's has been joined in the ‘hats’ arena by two sibling restaurants, Wintergarden at the Hydro Majestic and Echoes Restaurant, both of which were awarded one Chef Hat.

“We are honoured to be receiving these awards during challenging times,” says Huong Nguyen, Managing Director of the Escarpment Group. “With the Hats won, full credit goes to our dedicated and wonderful team of staff - kitchen, front of house and operations. We have tried so hard after COVID to maintain consistently high standards across our venues, and we are very happy that the staff are being recognised by these awards.” 

With the challenges of the past two years resulting in many restaurants in the Mountains suffering from staff shortages, as well as decreased clientele, these recent awards are a symbol of recovery and a brighter future for our hospitality industry.

“We are also excited to see some new and wonderful food and beverage related ventures in the Mountains,” says Ms Nguyen. “It's great to have the company of these creative new entrants, as there will be a push to raise the bar.

“That's good for the Blue Mountains dining scene and helps to create a fabulous buzz for region.”

Autumn_2019_menu_16.jpegPHOTO: Darley's Restaurant

Wolgan Dining, oneandonlyresorts.com/wolgan-valley

Arrana, arrana.com.au

Darley's Restaurant, darleysrestaurant.com.au

Wintergarden, hydromajestic.com.au

Echoes Restaurant, echoeshotel.com.au

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