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                               RESTAURANT REVIEW | Centennial Vineyards Restaurant
DETAILS
Centennial Vineyards Restaurant
252 Centennial Road, Bowral. 4861 8701 centennialrestaurant.com.au
      Highlands Classic
CLASSICALLY TRAINED CHEF ROBIN MURRAY COMES FROM GOOD SCOTTISH HOSPITALITY STOCK AND HAS A FINE INTERNATIONAL RESTAURANT PEDIGREE. BUT HE NOW CALLS THE SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS HOME AND PERFORMS REGULAR CULINARY MIRACLES AT THE LOVELY CENTENNIAL VINEYARDS RESTAURANT.
Perhaps it’s the ‘dreich’ Scottish weather or the austerity of the landscape that engenders a collective gritty realism, but no matter how far from home, you can always trust a Scot to tell it how it is. Take hugely experienced, classically trained chef Robin Murray. He arrived in Australia nearly 25 years ago and has been at the helm of Centennial Vineyards Restaurant for the past 14.
After training at the prestigious Scottish hotel, The Caledonian in Edinburgh, he headed to Melbourne. For the next 10 years his mentors and contemporaries included chefs Raymond Capaldi, Gary Meaghan and George Calombaris (who did his apprenticeship at the Sofitel in Melbourne, where Robin worked before they both jumped ship). Calombaris then went to work for Murray at his molecular style restaurant, Reserve. When Murray departed in 2004 with now wife Mandy to take over the newly opened restaurant at Centennial Vineyards near Bowral, Calombaris went on to start The Press Club in Melbourne.
But don’t expect to find Murray spruiking his past successes or close MasterChef Australia mates. This is one old school chef not interested in self promotion. Likewise, there is no food trickery or tomfoolery on the menu when you eat a la carte lunch, dinner or high tea at Centennial Vineyards Restaurant. And when Meet the Author events (held with The Bookshop Bowral) are happening, Murray stays in the kitchen out of the limelight and lets the calibre of his cooking speak for itself. No chance, then, I ask him freshly on the day Escape Southern Highlands visits for lunch, we’ll be seeing him as a guest judge on MasterChef Australia any time soon?
‘Och no, I’m not interested in that sort of thing,’ says Murray in his broad Scottish brogue. ‘Too much smoke and mirrors for me. I’m more of a real chef as such. My style is very classical with French and Mediterranean influences. Honest food. We might trick something up in a garnish, but I cook in a very classic way that is very produce driven.’
Murray has hospitality in his blood. His grandfather owned hotels and several of his brothers are chefs. Raised in Lossiemouth, Aberdeenshire, he came to Australia in 1995 to join an older brother working at the now closed but well remembered White Horse Inn in Berrima.
‘I thought all of Australia was like Home and Away, and I arrived in winter in Berrima and found instead it was like bloody Scotland,’ recalls Murray. ‘I lasted six weeks and moved to Melbourne. I met my wife, Mandy, in a pub there and ended up staying.’
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SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS
    SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS




















































































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