As a relative newcomer to the city lifestyle, I am the first to admit that a retreat to the mountains is high on the list every two or three months. So it’s really nice when I get the opportunity to show off to my city-slicker friends that incredible cuisine exists west of Penrith (it really does!).
My favourite spot in the Blue Mountains is Leura, and the newest eatery there that everyone is talking about is Leura Garage.
Just off the highway, and down a lane absolutely alive with autumn colours, is this renovated former mechanic’s garage (hence the name) that is as full of friendly faces as it is rustic charm.
The garage is pretty big, with plenty of large tables to bring a family, and equally as many smaller nooks off to the side where you may take a date. It offers a stellar, enormous menu throughout the day, and you can indulge mostly in tasting platters after 5pm.
We are seated for lunch, and chat to the wonderfully likeable waitress Denise as she brings us two flagons of the Orange-brewed Badlands beer (a pale ale and a seasonal draught). The Central West breweries are always knockouts, and this is no exception.
Leura Garage’s new autumn menu is a mixture of hearty, meaty flavours, with an emphasis on locally grown produce. We are treated to an appetiser of house-made grissini accompanied by locally fermented balsamic vinegar. All around me, plates of polenta chunk chips are being brought out – the dish is clearly popular with the locals.
A mushroom burger catches our eye, featuring a field mushroom with so much meat on it it could have easily passed for a chicken breast. An oozy, creamy, goats’ cheese sauce drips over our fingers, and gives the meal a hearty feel.
Next is the sausage roll. Technically, it’s not really a sausage roll – there’s no pastry involved here. It’s actually called a ‘sausage log’ – essentially a long, home-made pork sausage coiled tightly on a plate, served with a dollop of caramelized onions and Dijon mustard. The super casual feel of eating a giant coil of sausage just makes sense here, and the taste is superb.
For dessert the vanilla panna cotta, listed at the top of the menu, is an obvious selection. One between two is just not enough, but next time we’ll know not to share. Flecks of vanilla and seasonal fruits adorn a bouncy, ice-cold panna cotta that melts in the mouth. A star menu item, for sure.
Leura Garage prides itself on its laid-back, casual approach to dining, while still managing to keep the entire menu classic, sophisticated and boasting a huge variety of local produce. If your shoulders are too tense from months in the city, and if you feel like you just need to take a deep breath and relax somewhere, then I highly suggest heading west. And stop in and say ‘hi’ to the cockatoos at the Garage on your way.
Leura Garage is at 84 Railway Pde, Leura, open seven days from noon until late.