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Bistro Officina Review

Escape to Bistro Officina for a taste of European style in the Southern Highlands.


The Southern Highlands is an enchanting destination to visit in any season. Country charm abounds with cosy cottages, boutiques, antique stores and now a modern European restaurant to rival the city.

Bistro Officina wasn't easy to find, the address led me to Berida Manor yet their website made no mention of a hotel, but after spotting the tiny antler logo - voila! I'm in. No wonder there wasn't any mention of the Manor, as this is no ordinary hotel restaurant. Instead you're greeted with a modern, light filled space with two large dining rooms, a cosy bar and open kitchen. Ivy climbs around the large picture windows providing stunning views of the grounds beyond.

Midweek, the scene was quite convivial, with the well-heeled diner's talking in hushed tones, some even in French, adding to the overall European atmosphere. 


Bistro Officina takes its name from World War II times when Mussolini was in power in Italy. In a time of deep corruption, censorship, control and lack of freedom, many underground garages opened up at the back of houses, where Italian grandmothers would cook their delicious homemade pasta to sell to the poor people riddled by war. These little "garages" were called Officina.

The newly opened Bistro Officina is fast attracting a loyal local following with the Southern Highlands foodies. The concept is based on fire, wood and charcoal, where everything is cooked in the wood oven and proteins are grilled over the charcoal. It makes for rustic, traditional European cooking.


To fully appreciate the restaurant's capabilities, we opted for the 4 course experience, it would be churlish not to! We advised the waiter we were happy with anything on the menu and we were in the chef's hands.

First up was the house sourdough bread with smoked butter. With a generous serving of 4 portions, I was in danger of filling up on bread, but it was so delicious I couldn't resist. It's rather fashionable these days to abstain from bread/carbs, but the charming owner Alex who hails from France and her husband chef Nicola from Naples, exclaims, "We're European, we love bread!" and I know I'm in good company.


Entrée is exquisite and not something I would have chosen which is why it's great to trust the chef! The King fish, stracciatella and melon is delicate and an elegant starter. The bread came in handy to soak up the remaining delicious soup; it's the French way after all.

For my second course, I'd hinted I'd love to try the gnocchi and so I was thrilled to be presented with the grilled gnocchi with shiitake mushrooms, pecora jamberoo, beurre noisette. Curds and selected cheeses served at Bistro Officina are from Pecora Dairy an award winning local farm situated in Robertson, in the heart of the Southern Highlands. The gnocchi was perfection, soft fluffy pillows of gnocchi made from local potatoes balanced by beautiful flavours, but far too filling and large for a degustation.


With two courses still to come, I am in danger of being too full after devouring the bread and gnocchi. I groan and rub my belly as Alex takes the half finished gnocchi away. When I comment the serving size is too large, she says, "Have you seen the size of my husband?" clearly he's a generous man who loves to feed his guests.

I notice Chef Nicola performs a loud clap when meals are ready for service, rather than a traditional bell favoured by other restaurants, but it's Nicola that deserves all the applause.


Next up and deviating from the menu once again (due to the nature of fresh produce and availability), I'm served Lamb tenderloin with smoked eggplant. Its tender and delicious, but again an overly generous serving size.

I'm so pleased to be served a light palate cleaner of sorbet with mint next, although this is just a minor reprieve before dessert is served. What follows are a selection of chocolate and strawberry petit fours with strawberries picked straight from the garden. Surely I'm done; I've already consumed more than 4 courses? I speak too soon as another generous portion of Tiramisu is presented in front of me. I'm sadly defeated.


The extensive wine list has a great selection of local wines and I opted for a Cherry Tree Hill Cabernet Merlot Rose from Sutton Forest. Service was excellent from both my waiter Zack and owner Alex. I'd definitely return and would love to try the small plates and cocktails in the bar, particularly in winter by the fire.

The 4 course experience will set you back $70, but you absolutely won't go hungry. A visit to Bowral and Bistro Officina is ideal for a weekend escape; book a night with alluxia whilst grazing your way through a taste of European style in the Southern Highlands.

Bistro Officina
6 David St, Bowral NSW
ph: 02 4861 7787

Images: IG @alluxia

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