Taste garden to gelato flavours in a gorgeous 1970s mud-brick hut
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Image credit - Jacs Powell
Bar Botanica is the creation of Julia and Dan Hughes (aka Mr Goaty Gelato), set in the garden oasis of Distillery Botanica in Erina. The café bar is bringing the ‘The Fragrant Gardens’– with flowers and botanicals from the garden making their way into many of Mr Goaty’s signature “garden to gelato” flavours – back to life with its menu of simple garden to plate dishes, freshly-roasted coffee and Mr Goaty’s famous gelato and sorbet.
Relocating from Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs a few years ago, where Dan worked for Bronte restaurant, Three Blue Ducks, Julia and Dan turned their hand to gelato with Dan’s award-winning Mr Goaty Gelato being churned and produced from the Distillery for the past two years.
Housed in a rustic 1970s mud-brick hut, the café has been given a fresh look with hand-painted botanical motifs by local artist, Nicole Berlach, and interiors designed by local outfit, Stewart & Highfield. The light-filled space is abundant with greenery – with a variety of plant life available to take home. Bar Botanica sits alongside the Distillery Botanica gin distillery who produce the award-winning Moore’s gin and liquors along with cult-favourite ‘Mr Black’ espresso liquor.
Open from mid-morning to late afternoon, Bar Botanica’s casual dining is themed on an ‘elevenses’ concept, an old English term referring to a light snack taken at eleven in the morning. Bar Botanica is extending this concept beyond the morning – for elegant, casual dining throughout the day.
Dan’s experience working in Michelin star restaurants and as a private chef across the UK and Europe, combined with Julia’s background in finance and marketing, has allowed the pair to create their dream food and lifestyle concept. Dan’s English upbringing and classic French chef training have influenced the menu, as has the fresh seasonal produce grown in the garden and the gin made at the neighbouring distillery. The Bar Botanica menu features perfectly balanced classic dishes inspired by places Dan has worked including restaurants, five-star hotels and private homes in London, Monaco, Spain, France, and Switzerland.
Menu highlights include a chicken liver parfait with Distillery Botanica blackcurrant liquor, a traditional ploughman’s lunch incorporating a Moore’s Gin-spiked cheddar crafted from local producers Little Creek Cheese, garden-marinated olives, a chicken with tarragon and mustard leaf sandwich, seasonal salads, 14 house-made flavours of gelato and sorbet, along with daily baked pastries, tarts and cakes with house-made preserves and accompaniments.
Bar Botanica offers a relaxing garden backdrop for a quick bite, coffee or a long lazy picnic. Coffee is roasted on-site from the same ‘Mr Black’ specialty coffee beans, and kids of all ages will love exploring the fairy-esque gardens with a double scoop of Mr Goaty Gelato.
Once the café is licensed, Distillery Botanica gin, Hunter Valley wines and local Six String beer will also be on offer and come winter, a series of pop-up dinners will be announced, with meals prepared by Dan and local wines served by the High Tide Bar.