Boilerhouse Q Station Autumn Harvest Dinner

Rebecca Varidel
26th Mar 2015

Chef Matt Kemp reckons we've come a long way in Sydney on our journey towards understanding seasonal food. As the ambassador for Boilerhouse Restaurant at Q Station Manly, Kemp presented his Autumn Harvest Dinner as the first in a series of seasonal and special dinners to be held throughout the year at this very special location.

Boilerhouse Restaurant is housed in an historic building on the peninsula which once was the Sydney Quarantine Station, so there was once some sadness there. But the two storey sandstone building (with the kitchen downstairs and the restaurant upstairs) is now a happy place, as were the diners who came to the wine-matched special event.


Smoked celeriac veloute with truffle cream
Taltarni 'T Series' sparkling chardonnay pinot noir

Gnocchi of roasted Jerusalem artichokes with wild rabbit and rosemary
2013 Rockburn Pinot Gris, Central Otago

Barramundi with wild mushrooms & cauliflower cream
2013 Cherubino Sauvignon Blanc, Pemberton WA

Mandagery Creek venison with spiced pear tarte fine
2013 Cherubino 'Laissez Faire' Syrah, Great Southern WA

Pumpkin brulee

Creamed rice pudding, apple compote mulled blackberries

From the first mouthful and throughout until the end of the five courses, the menu by Chef Matt Kemp was superb. We not only got to savour each course, but were witness to a video link up with the kitchen which had us spying on chef at the plating of each course. That was excellent fun, as was his informative commentaries.

That little celeriac veloute that started us off was just light enough, just curious enough, just warm and welcoming enough, to get us drooling for more. Then, the wild rabbit hit the spot as the hero of the next dish, with a spattering of incredibly beautiful gnocchi and the roasted Jerusalem artichokes in complete harmony with the meat. Interestingly, Jerusalem artichoke was one of the examples that Kemp gave earlier in the kitchen, to exemplify our improved understanding of seasonality. And he wasn't just talking about you and me - the eaters - he was talking about the Sydney chefs, the cooks. We chatted about other autumn produce, chestnuts, mushrooms, cauliflower, pumpkin, pear and I threw in a favourite of mine, persimmons.

For a dinner that sent out each course all at the same time with such efficiency, that barramundi was might fine, moist and tender and just cooked to perfection. That's an impressive feat from the Boilerhouse Restaurant kitchen team. Just those couple of delicious bits and bobs, wild mushrooms and cauliflower cream balanced the dish nicely.

The dinner only got better with a lovely rare venison (and again huge compliments in serving it up like this to a wider audience) cooked just on point. Beautiful. Beautiful. With an impressive pear tarte fine served as the side. A well designed dish. And a well executed one. Compliments to the Chefs.

Two desserts always please me. The little pumpkin pot was a deconstructed cream with a wedge of toffee. Again a thoughtful function presentation and just so creamy and delicious. The pumpkin was an undercurrent and didn't over power or dominate. It just sat as a little taste of autumn in the cup.

Best of all I loved the last dessert, which was a brave rice pudding. I say that because so many people have less than fond memories of this as a poorly cooked home dessert. But this was very very good. Kemp explained the rice sat in the milk (I forgot for how long) but surely there was more too it than that? The rice was of perfect texture with just a incy wincy bit of bite in a lovely rich but not too rich creamy concoction. Loved the icy apple and the offset of mulberries.

And while the wine matching throughout the night was terrific, the inclusion of the historic wassail was a total winner to end the night!


In the cider-producing counties in the South West of England and South East England wassailing refers to a traditional ceremony that involves singing and drinking the health of apple trees on Twelfth Night in the hopes that they might better thrive. The purpose of wassailing is to awaken the cider apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn.

The ceremonies of each wassail vary from village to village but they generally all have the same core elements. A wassail King and Queen lead the song and/or processional tune to be played/sung from one orchard to the next; the wassail Queen is then lifted into the boughs of the tree where she places toast soaked in wassail from the clayen cup as a gift to the tree spirits. In some counties the youngest boy or "Tom Tit" will stand in for the Queen and hang cider soaked toast in the tree. Then an incantation is usually recited.

Wassail the beverage is a hot, mulled punch often associated with Yuletide drunk from a 'wassailing bowl.' The earliest versions were warmed mead - ale brewed with honey - into which roasted crab apples were dropped and burst to create a drink called 'lambswool' drunk on Lammas day, still known in Shakespeare's time.

Later the drink evolved to become a mulled cider made with sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and topped with slices of toast drunk from a large communal bowl. Modern recipes begin with a base of wine, fruit juice or mulled ale, sometimes with brandy or sherry added; apples or oranges are often added to the mix. While the beverage typically served as 'wassail' at modern holiday feasts with a medieval theme most closely resembles mulled cider, historical wassail drinks were completely different, more likely to be mulled beer or mead. Sugar, ale, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon would be placed in a bowl, heated and toppsed with slices of toast as sops.

Boilerhouse Restaurant has the following upcoming events. There was a flyer on our tables under our menu.

May 10th Mothers Day High Tea
June 17th Winter Wine Feast Dinner
September 23rd Meet Your Maker Dinner
November 27th Christmas Giving Long Lunch

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