Sydney - what is new for us to try?
This June will be my 6th trip there. We've done a lot of the big places Doyles: Tetsuya, Aria, a great steak place in the old Post Office building that I can't remember the name of, the new place in the overhauled CBD Sheraton that I can't recall the name of (Glass?).
I liked the event dining experience of Tetsuya but it sounds like they are just coasting with the same menu year after year from reading others posts. I'd like to try Iceburgs and Sailor Thai on this trip.
So what's next for us? What can you recommend that's new, must hit that's hip too? My husband is way pickier than me, we'd do sushi but there has to be a good selection of cooked dishes.
We really enjoyed Sailor's Thai Canteen (as opposed to the more upscale Sailor's Thai around the corner). The canteen has a long communal table and tasty food at reasonable prices -- great fun!
Ocean Room in the Overseas Passenger Terminal is outstanding. It's a beautiful room and they serve incredibly fresh fish. The sashimi and oysters were fantastic. I had a whole crispy fried baby snapper that was to die for.
Quay in the OPT is recommended a lot for fine dining, but we thought the food was just weird (and we are very adventurous eaters). We also felt it was overpriced and trying too hard.
Quay now (as of March) serves a new 4-course prix-fixe meal. We ate there during the first week the new menu was rolled out.
It all got off to a good start for me: I really enjoyed my starter ("Ravioli of slow cooked partridge, chestnut cream, fresh milk curd, truffle butter, partridge consomme") which sounds horribly rich but wasn't overly so. This turned out to be about the only recognizable and tasty item I had.
And then it all went downhill. My second course, "Gentle braise of southern rock lobster, pea shoots, spring onions, cauliflower cream, lobster velvet," which costs $20 extra, was frankly gross. Unpleasant textures (the lobster velvet was a congealed, salty white goo), unattractive looking (white-on-white just wasn't appetizing), and off flavors. It just didn't come together at all.
"Young chicken poached in truffle butter, twelve hour slow cooked pig cheek, hazelnuts, farro, endive heart, Joselito Jamon Iberico de Bellota" managed to be flavorless (I sure couldn't taste any Iberico ham in there) yet salty. The texture was unpleasantly wet and slimy.
"Pear creme caramel, Sauternes Jelly, pear ice cream" was unlike any "creme caramel" I've ever been served. It was presented in a martini glass and would be best described as a parfait. The Sauternes jelly was overly solid and had been chopped up into little bits, giving the dish another yucky texture. Overall, the flavor was bitter, like overcooked caramel, but there was no obvious caramel in it.
All in all, it was strange, pretentious and ill-conceived food. I got the distinct impression the chef was trying out "molecular gastronomy" techniques without having the slightest flair for them. The outcome was mostly disgusting. I don't usually complain about textures, but this chef was really pushing my buttons with some repulsive ones.
By the way, my husband didn't like ANY of his four courses, which were all different from mine. We tasted each others' food, as always, and we agreed that only my starter was good.
Quay has fantastic views if there isn't a cruise ship in port. Service was better than the Aussie average. If you feel like trying something really "out there," that you may or may not like, and paying a wad of cash for the privilege, this is the place for you.
I second Fish Face in Darlinghurst.
Another place I love is Mohr Fish in Surry Hills. Peak waiting times can range from 20-45mins, but put your name down and head over to the Shakespeare next door for a pre-dinner drink. They'll come get you once your table is ready. I always get the scallop starter which is devine, and all the main courses are lovely and fresh.
You're only a short walk from Crown Street, so after your meal you can walk along the strip and check out some of the many bars for an after dinner pick me up.
Other options along the Crown Street, Surry Hills strip (though I've yet to check these places out):
Bird Cow Fish - I haven't been there, but heard it's also very good. Modern Australian I believe.
Toko - looks gorgeous from the outside, from its blonde wood bar serving sake martinis, to the sushi bar to catch the action, to the long communal table. I'm dying to check it out myself!
The Bentley - located on the corner of Campbell and Crown Streets - I've heard it's good (rave review in the SMH Good Food Guide, 2 hats etc), but given I can see the place from my balcony, it's a little too close to home for me ;)
Icebergs is good. Great food, great view, great bar. Expensive.
China Doll in Woolloomooloo Wharf. Aisan fusion. People watching. Moderate price. or Salon Blanc on the same strip.
Guillaume at Bennelong in Opera House. Expensive.
Est is still hip and popular. Expensive.
Hugo's Lounge, Lotus - popular with young ones. More bar scene.
Forty One, great view. Expensive.
For good food:-
RQ, Thai fusion. good service. reasonable price.
Lo Studio, italian. moderate.
Il Piave in Rozelle (10 minutes from the city) modern italian. moderate price.