take our word for it, here is what our reviewers have had to say...
Click here for the latest feedback from our customers from July 2011.
SMH Good Food Guide 2012: One hat, one wine glass, score 15.5/20
This is the restaurant that puts the gong into Wollongong. They’re all there (the gongs, we mean); a virtual millinery of framed chef’s hats proudly lined up on a shelf above the dining room as testament to chef Peter Sheppard’s consistency and excellence. Trained at Sydney’s long-departed Banc, Sheppard is ably backed by the young and courteous floor staff who oversee a pair of elegant, softly lit dining rooms. Start with beautifully paired seared scallop and roast scampi tail, or delicate and delectable duck and chestnut tortellini. Main courses are prettily presented, with standouts including tender, rolled guinea fowl breast with parsnip puree, asparagus, mushroom duxelle, sautéed potatoes and fresh truffles, and a smackingly well-cooked roasted fillet of blue-eye with lardons, shallots, potato fondant and red wine jus. End on a sparkling note with a dessert of scorched champagne marshmallow with peach and vanilla salpicon, raspberry jelly, amaretto icecream and toasted almonds, or check out the classy cheese selection.
SMH Good Food Guide 2011: One hat, one wine glass, score 15/20
Behind a stylish, understated facade lies Wollongong's standout fine diner, comprising two elegant rooms with soft lighting, polished floorboards and well-presented tables. Service is warm and attentive, but not quite as consistent as the assured cooking of chef Peter Sheppard. His detailed dishes are minor works of art, with more than a dash of culinary daring. Take the roasted pigeon breast and its intriguing partners - creamed leeks, sweetbreads, walnuts, blueberries and preserved truffle. Fresh figs and 20 year old balsamic pair up with a blue cheese wafer gaufrette and celeriac remoulade, while rare eye fillet rests on a crisp potato gallette, creamed spinach and red wine jus, with a scattering of snails as an added Gallic gesture. Pan-fried murray cod alongside crisp-crowned pork belly is a novel take on surf 'n' turf, with braised beets, caramelised fennel, boulangere potatoes and anise jus. There's nothing too complicated about filo pastry layered with iced honeycomb parfait and Frangelico mousse, wrapping up a fabulous food experience.
SMH Good Food Guide
2010: One hat, one wine glass, score 15/20
blinds, painted boards and witty corro-lined walls (this is the
Steel City after all) set this "cave" apart from the
rest of Wollongong's chief restaurant beat. The food does too.
Caveau is a plain shopfront room where the cooking is anything
but. From a sip of carrot and cumin soup with polenta-dusted
house rolls, serious but savvy staff bear beautiful gifts:
flounder with blue swimmer crab mousse, a lovely bisque-like foam
and buerre blanc, scallops crunchy with pork crackling on a
slightly doughy duxelle and pea veloute. Each elegant
assemblage shows thought and effort, including a between-course
green apple jelly and sorbet palate cleanser. Gamey venison is
utter winter pleasure with chocolatey, crumbly boudin noir and
tiny roast veg. Blue eye pairs with a sticky oxtail rotolo,
tiny turnips and confit cabbage. A fine cheese choice is
almost enough to distract you from a butterscotchy honeycomb and
pear parfait with honeycomb sauce. But of course, you could
Good Food Guide 2009:
In the 2009 SMH Good Food Guide, Caveau was
the only hat-winning restaurant on the entire NSW South Coast. Scoring 15.5 and for the first time also receiving a wine-glass
which signifies 'a particularly good wine list', the review
Small servings of exquisitely prepared
food wow visitors to this fine diner, with it's softly lit,
elegant interior - comfortable without being stuffy - and
excellent service. While you struggle with the entirely
delectable menu a tiny square of layered potato and salsa verde
terrine with white anchovy hints at the joys to come. It's
followed by a complimentary demitasse of flavoursome potato
soup. Rabbit galantine sits on a celeriac remoulade,
flanked by delicate calf sweetbreads, crisp pistachios and a
dash of pistachio vinaigrette. Confit of king salmon with
mud crab tortellini moistened by cauliflower puree and basil oil
is equally superb. For mains, a seafood assiette includes a
perfectly cooked mahi mahi, kingfish and turbot on a saffron
risotto enlivened by crustacea oil. The duck showcases
rare roasted breast, confit leg and braised (sic) liver,
offset with tiny turnips and shiraz jus. For dessert a
pear chausson shows chef Peter Sheppard's fine hand with pastry
and is complimented with cinnamon ice-cream.
Weekender 8th September 2007
Caveau was broadcast on Sydney Weekender with Mike Whitney
in September 2007. You can watch
this video, but the file is a 19.4MB .mpg so broadband
Good Food Guide 2008:
Caveau scored a whopping 15.5 and
retained its hat, remaining the region's only hatted restaurant.
This is what it had to say:
It feels like a minor miracle to find food this good and service
so unobtrusively stylish on the gritty main drag of the 'Gong.
One can only assume Peter Sheppard (once of Banc) followed a higher
calling to bring his delicately assured, labour-intensive French
techniques to the people. Everything - from the cream and mushroom
interiors to a complimentary amuse bouche - shows a passion for
food. Rabbit tortellini sit like plump priests' hats on fine white
china, perfectly meshed with pumpkin fondant, rosemary buerre
blanc and crisp pancetta. Seared scallops are mouth-wateringly
good, heightened by a subtle scallop mousse with sauteed zucchini,
mushrooms and sauce perigeux. Grain-fed eye fillet with creamed
spinach, sauteed gnocchi and oyster mushrooms is classic fare
taken to a new level, and winter truffle risotto with mushrooms,
asparagus and shaved fresh truffle is a generous portion of French
perfection. One mouthful of chocolate pithivier will have you
giving thanks that Sheppard ever shifted south.
Traveller ranked CAVEAU as the fourth best restaurant in Regional
Lucky Wollongong locals have a gem in their midst in the form
of ex-Banc chef Peter Sheppard. Ably assisted by his wife and
front-of-house head Nicola, this master of French technique delivers
robustly flavoured dishes with consistency and panache, from house-made
bread and pastry to a palate-cleansing pre-dessert of mandarin
sorbet and passionfruit cream. He's a fan of 'nose-to-tail' cooking
too: expect suckling pig four ways or stuffed pig's ear alongside
the signature black pudding. Gallic tradition and the chef's eye
for detail are obvious in an eye fillet with snails, broad beans
and potato gallette; a nicely balanced and satisfying dish. End
on a high note with Sheppard's chocolate pithiviers or the sensational
creme brulee on a base of white chocolate with pear sorbet. Plaudits
too for the pared-back, elegant interior.
They also awarded Caveau one wine glass which signifies "A restaurant
notable for the breadth and depth of its wine selection".
Good Food Guide 2007: One hat, 15/20
Wollongong may be slow to realise what a gem they
have in Caveau, but chef Peter Sheppard (ex-Banc) isn't compromising
his high standards, applying labour-intensive traditional French
techniques to the best produce in perfectly seasoned and sauced
classics. The posh description 'boudin' disguises his dark, moist
mosaic of duck-neck sausage in a deft charcuterie trio. New Zealand
venison is roasted rare to perfection with crisp potato roesti,
a mild horseradish cream and sauteed fresh figs. Sheppard's light
touch with pastry is demonstrated by his masterly execution of
a signature dish, a golden domed pithivier of puff pastry filled
with a decadent lava of dark chocolate. Service is as subtle and
classy as the food and noise levels are muted amid the soft lighting,
mushroom and cream walls and polished floorboards. It's a nice
touch to offer a complimentary amuse bouche - sometimes a tiny
cup of soup or a spoonful of cured ocean trout with avruga caviar
- and petit fours as part of the meal. In Sydney they'd be stampeding
to eat this well at these prices.
SMH Good Food Guide 2006: One hat, 14/20
Locals have been slow to adopt Wollongong's newest fine
dining experience, and while the French moniker may intimidate
some, it only hints at the style and standards you can expect.
Previously sous chef at Banc, Peter Sheppard's technical mastery
and classical repertoire of elaborate and labour intensive dishes
proves he is used to impressing a sophisticated clientele. A complimentary
demitasse cup of fragrant cauliflower soup is a winning touch.
Behind wooden venetians, the softly lit, pastel room is more informal
than the menu suggests, while service is polished, not pretentious.
Start with an excellent charcuterie plate or an earthy mix of
polenta and wild mushrooms. Duck confit, studded with sweet corn,
wrapped in a herb pancake and topped with a small dollop of foie
gras, was perhaps over ambitious; more successful is a gutsy gnocchi
sauteed with autumn vegetables, full of earthy flavours. Sinfully
rich gratin dauphinoise is creamy and golden. The piece de resistance
is the signature puff pastry cupola of a perfectly executed pithivier,
oozing a molten lava flow of dark chocolate.
Magazine, May 2005
Lucky Wollongong has scored chef Peter Sheppard, keen to show
off his impeccable mastery of French technique. An elegant but
relaxed room in soft neutrals sets off the fine dining menu. The
polish here is discernible in everything from the complimentary
espresso cup of fragrant soup, to the buttery pastry of a perfect
chocolate pithivier, tiny ravioli pleats and earthy mushroom risotto.
Local and luxury ingredients including prawns, fish from the Shellharbour
market, fresh truffles, and the rishest dark chocolate all give
the food an extra dimension of sophistication and flair, and leave
you in no doubt that someone who wants to make their mark is at
the helm. Service, under the watchful eye of Sheppard's wife,
Nicola, is attentive. The wine list is satisfyingly extensive.
Caveau is a real discovery and a great new addition to a city
previously not spoilt for choice at this end of the spectrum.
Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide 2005
The Illawarra's only starred restaurant Wollongong has not been
spoilt for choice at the fine-dining end of the restaurant spectrum,
but Caveau is a welcome addition that raises standards in one
giant leap. A restrained interior in neutral tones and service
that is friendly without being familiar, let food shine. Peter
Sheppard, formerly of Sydney's Banc is not afraid of challenging
diners and doesn't shy from offering black pudding and pig's trotters
among the entrees. That doesn't seem to deter the clientele one
iota. All benefit from an assured hand in the kitchen that is
confident enough to give classic techniques and flavour combinations
a subtle twist without being gimmicky - for example, the game
terrine and rillette with blackberry vinaigrette or the beef eye
fillet with dauphinoise potato, sauteed mushrooms and truffled
hollandaise. Word of mouth is spreading fast - rightly so.
Good Food Guide 2005 - 14/20
Huskisson's loss was a big win for Wolongong, when Peter and Nicola
Sheppard (ex-Reflections) resurfaced in the Gong's best restaurant
strip mid-2004 with this warm softly-lit yellow and blue [sic]
trimmed space with damask-cloth'd tables and blonde timber chairs.
While she tends diners with good cheer, his French-influenced,
daily, fixed-price menu bristles with panache and demonstrates
an assured hand. (Peter was formerly Banc's sous chef.) In a welcome
change of pairings, decadent crisp-skinned pork belly is joined
by roast quail on cassoulet beans braised in tomato. Golden-crusted
fried mud crab brandade with crisp pancetta and fried quail's
egg is sassy and satisfying. We were less impressed by sauteed,
truffle-scented herb gnocchi that was more dense and gluey than
we'd hoped, with roasted root vegetables and a cepe cream sauce.
No such troubles with the intensely rich bouillabaisse sauce accompanying
pan-fried red mullet and braised fennel. You might be tempted
by the first-class French cheeses or happily settle for poached
pear with white chocolate mousse and addictive caramel ice-cream.
Nicola, Peter & the team at Caveau
Thank you very much for a wonderful evening last Saturday to celebrate
Dennis's and Kim's 40th birthdays. The food was truly delicious
- everyone loved it! And the service was responsive, friendly
and polite. We all had a fantastic time!
Thanks again from Anna-Leena and all the family
Dear Nicola & Peter
I just wanted to congratulate you both on your "hat" award. You
deserve it and I hope your Caveau continues to grow in popularity.
Our "company name" dinner on 2nd September was a night to remember
in more ways than one. The food, service, friendliness and presentation
was a credit to you all and very much appreciated by all our party.
My mother has not stopped talking about it and has recommended
you to many! I wish you both many happy years in Wollongong and
keep up the excellent work.
Best wishes Ann
Please excuse the lateness of this email, but I just wanted to
thank you and Peter for a most wonderful evening the other Friday
night. It was hard to believe I was having dinner in another country
the next night and still thinking about the meal I had the night
before. I have had several phone calls from my guests saying what
a great time they had and commenting on both your food and wine.
The champagne was a fantastic way to start the evening. Thanks
so much once again, and hope to see you again soon when I am back
Kind regards and best wishes Phillip
Nicola & Peter
The evening held for the obstetricians was superb - absolutely
superb - thank you. But then from past experience one would expect
Yours sincerely Sue
We dined in style, the food an art
We laughed and enjoyed as we admired the craft
Of chef, of staff all poised and prepared
to serve and present what we think fabulous fare.
How blessed we are to be here tonight -
Sheer and absolute delight.
I was going to say Cest Magnifique however seeing as you are a
pom I guess "Top Nosh" is more appropriate! Being European I am
sure you will take the Three Star award for excellence... because
if you don't have them already for God's sake start telling the
world how good your food is!
Nicola and Peter
Thank you so much for all the wonderful food we've been able to
experience. We wish you well in your new venture, we'll certainly
miss Reflections - and you.
Love Paul & Robyn Baxter
Nicola & Peter
Thanks for making dining such a wonderful experience for us. The
consistently high standard is something we've not come across
before. You make a great team.
Regards Donna, Tim, Erin & Sophie
dined at your restaurant last Friday night and it was quite a
surprise to find a chef of such a calibre in Wollongong. We both
gave our experience 10 out of 10. The service was enjoyable pitched,
the wine was perfectly chilled, the bread was wonderful, the atmosphere
excellent, and the food quite remarkable. My husband remarked
"you don't expect to find someone able to cook those classic dishes
in a local place" (he chose the hare ravioli and the trotter).
It was the first of many visits we hope. Yes please, put us on
your mailing list for future events - Bastille Day Dinner perhaps.
Regards Barbara Carmichael & Phillip Julian