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12° & CLEAR SKY ON SUNDAY 20 OCTOBER IN SYDNEY
By Jasmine Crittenden
September 18, 2019
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Six Out-of-Town Restaurants to Road Trip to When You Need a Break

The distances we go to for top-notch nosh.
By Jasmine Crittenden
September 18, 2019
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in partnership with

We're always coming up with new excuses for a road trip, from spectacular waterfalls to craft breweries. But one of the best is also one of the oldest — food. Drive two hours or less in any direction from Sydney and you're sure to come across at least one restaurant serving up lip-smackingly good dishes. Plus, these venues are usually surrounded by some dreamy views.

For rolling vineyards and mountainous backdrops, head northwest to the Hunter Valley, while in the southwestern Southern Highlands you'll find landscaped gardens and magical forests. If you're after invigorating oceanic panoramas, then head up along the Central Coast. To make your next foodie road trip planning easier, we've teamed up with Citi to give you some of the best restaurants well worth the drive. Even better? With the Citibank Dining Program, if you pay with your Citi card at participating restaurants, you'll also receive a free bottle of wine. So, next time you need a break from the big smoke, jump behind the wheel and make a beeline for one of these beauties.

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Destination NSW.

BIOTA DINING, BOWRAL

Biota Dining takes native ingredients seriously, bringing them to the forefront of most dishes. For head chef and owner James Vile, local produce isn't just a buzzword, but an ethos. In fact, even the word 'biota' refers to the animal and plant life of a particular region. Take a seat in the light-filled dining room and prepare for a genuine taste of the Southern Highlands. Working with the seasons, Vile's menus are ever-changing, with autumn dishes including a kangaroo bolognese jaffle as well as mud crab and creamed eggs with fushimi pepper. Choose between five or seven courses, with or without matching wines. Or, select from a complimentary bottle of Hunter Valley shiraz fiano or semillon thanks to the Citibank Dining Program.

Biota Dining is a 90-minute drive southwest of the Sydney CBD or two to three hours by train from Central to Bowral.

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BELLS AT KILLCARE, CENTRAL COAST

At the southern end of the Bouddi Peninsula, Bells at Killcare Boutique Hotel, Restaurant and Spa sits on a magnificent acreage of landscaped gardens that look like they could be the set of Downton Abbey. Book a table on the indoor terrace, at the bar or in the dining room and enjoy a free bottle of Barwang Tumbarumba pinot gris thanks to Citi. The menu is dedicated to authentic fare using seasonal produce from the estate's vegetable garden. Tuck into rigatoni with cuttlefish, nduja and pangrattato or the chicken ballotine stuffed with luganica sausage, farro, mushroom purée and pancetta.

Bells at Killcare is a 90-minute drive northeast of the Sydney CBD.

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RESTAURANT BOTANICA, HUNTER VALLEY

For vineyard views, Spicers Retreat's Restaurant Botanica is hard to beat, so we recommend you reserve a table by the window (if you can). Head chef Shayne Mansfield (ex-E'cco Bistro in Brisbane and City Social in London) whips up hearty, nourishing dishes with ingredients sourced from local Hunter Valley farmers and growers. The Hunter gets cold in winter so get started with a shiraz from nearby winery Mount Pleasant, which is on the house if you're a Citi cardholder. Or if you're more of a white drinker, there's also the winery's cellar-aged Elizabeth semillon available thanks to Citi. Foodwise, there's wagyu beef tartare with coal-roasted beetroot, onion buttermilk and sorrel oil and a pork dish with burnt butter roasted pumpkin, smoked pecans, orange and clove, among many other delights. You have a choice of two courses ($69) and three ($79). Plus, there's an extensive plant-based menu available, too.

Restaurant Botanica is a two-hour drive north of the Sydney CBD.

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MUSE RESTAURANT, HUNTER VALLEY

Found in the middle of Hungerford Hill Wine Estate inside a former industrial building, Muse Restaurant makes for a cosy escape from the city with a roaring fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows. And, wherever you sit, you can watch the double-hatted open kitchen in action. For a long, lazy weekend lunch, the lunch tasting menu ($125) changes seasonally and is the way to go. This season, dishes include poached Hiramasa kingfish with Jerusalem artichoke, Lovedale finger lime, wakame and coastal succulents as well as a slow-cooked lamb breast with black garlic glaze, salt baked beetroot, plum and garlic chive. Being in the Hunter, Muse pours a bevy of local wines, including Mount Pleasant shiraz and chardonnay, both of which are free thanks to Citi. Let your free bottle of vino be the aperitif to what's to come — go the whole nine yards and opt for wine pairings with the tasting menu ($65 or $100 for premium wine pairings). You are dining at a vineyard, after all.

Muse is a two-hour drive northwest of the Sydney CBD.

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BOMBINI, CENTRAL COAST

Bombini isn't just an Italian restaurant; it's a mini country escape complete with two acres of gardens and a cooking school. Begin your adventure at the bar with a negroni or bellini in hand, before settling into the warm timber-filled dining room. Flash your Citi card and you can choose from a free bottle of McW Alternis vermentino or a pale rose from Chant du Midi before you tuck into some classic Italian fare. The menu is all about simple dishes done well, featuring premium Australian meats, regional cheeses and handmade pastas. Kick off with 24-month aged Iberico ham with pickled pine mushrooms, then move onto risotto with pippies, saffron, parsley and garlic or the barbecued duck breast with mushroom ragu, fried leeks and aged balsamic. If you're road tripping on a Sunday, Bombini also does a winter-warming, generous roast for $35 per person.

Bombini is a 90-minute drive northeast of the Sydney CBD.

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CAVEAU, WOLLONGONG

Caveau is found inside a cosy, low-lit space in downtown Wollongong. Since opening the restaurant back in 2005, head chef Peter Sheppard has scored a Good Food Chef's Hat every single year — so you know the meal that awaits you is well worth the trip. His ever-changing creations are works of visual and culinary art, where native ingredients are the heroes. Think crocodile ham with green ants, smoked black lip abalone with spanner crab and tomato, and magpie goose with onions, quandong and sea parsley. To complement these true blue Aussie treats, grab a bottle of the Yarra Valley Coombe Farm pinot noir for free thanks to Citi. Otherwise, Citi's offering the Framingham Marlborough sauvignon blanc if white's more your thing. And, assuming you're not the one driving, the seven-course degustation with wines to match is the encouraged way to go. Better yet, save the petrol, save the planet and take the train so all can enjoy those matching wines.

Caveau is a 90-minute drive south of the Sydney CBD or just under two hours by train from Central to Wollongong.
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To get a free bottle of wine at your next meal, book at any one of Citi's participating restaurants, mention the offer at the time of booking and pay your bill with your Citi card.

Top image: Biota Dining.

Published on September 18, 2019 by Jasmine Crittenden

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