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Can't Decide - Tetsuya's or Quay???

I'm going to be going to Sydney in September and I can't decide between Tetsuya's or Quay. I'm from SF and I love creative food. Some places I've been to are Joel Robuchon and The French Laundry. I can't say I lean towards one or the other... I just want a very good experience. Any thoughts?

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  1. LOVE Tetsuya's..food is incredible..Oceanic trout is sublime.
    IMHO, Tet's blows French Laundry out of the water.
    Only been to Quay for drinks and app's..great place.
    I'm sure PhilD and other great posters will chime in.

    1. Despite what you may have read, Tetsuya's polarises people. For every person I know who thought it was the most wonderful experience ever, there is one who is disappointed.

      Some tangible things. Quay is in a great location and you know you are in Sydney; Tetsuya is basically a converted residence with no view. Quay supports a traditional meal structure as well as degustation, Tetsuya is dego only. Both are amongst the most expensive restaurants in Australia.

      My personal view? I think Quay represents Sydney much better to an overseas visitor, and in style is a bit hungrier, a touch edgier and has a menu that changes through the year. Tetsuya hasn't changed much in the past five years, and that includes the menu. There is a distinct possibility it is becoming a sacred cow like the Grange became.

      And for either, if you want to go on a Friday or Saturday evening, you will need to book now. Tets may already be booked up.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mr_gimlet

        I was at Tetsuya's in 2005, so its been awhile.
        Both were incredible.
        I trust your insight.

      2. My wife and I have been to both Tets and Quay twice. Either will be good, for sure - but I'd recommend Quay over Tetsuya's. As you've been to French Laundry and Joel Robuchon, I'm guessing that you are a relatively seasoned foodie with reasonably high expectations. With respect to atmosphere, Quay wins hands down - it sits in the overseas passenger terminal just opposite the Opera House. Ask for a seat in the rotunda when you book, and you'll have arguably one of the best restaurant seats in the world. Tets is certainly nice, but some rooms have no windows - and the lack of atmosphere just seems to increase the expectation on the food in my opinion.
        The food at each is great, and you probably won't be disappointed. Tetsuya's is a less challenging menu, and like others have said it hasn't changed in quite a while. I suggest that Quay is more creative, and a more adventurous eater would enjoy it. One wildcard is that you can bring your own bottle of wine to Tetsuyas - so if you're looking for a reason to pop the cork on an aging Grand Cru, then this might be your excuse. ;)

        1. Thanks for the recommendations. I will see which one I can still get a reservation at. Question for the group - why is it so much harder to get reservations at Tetsuya vs. Quay if Quay is more edgy and creative (and equally good)?

          3 Replies
          1. re: jlfoodie

            Because its a special occasion institution in peoples' minds

            1. re: mr_gimlet

              Quay also seats twice as many people.

              1. re: Camw

                Tetsuyas is more of an instituiton because it is 'more' internationally acclaimed. I would agree that Quay is more inventive. Quay is more glam with the harbour views and Tetsuyas used to be more serious and foodie (haven't been for a while). Portions are small at both places - I was not full from a meal at Quay - slighty more sated at Tetsuyas.

          2. Just returned from 2 weeks in Australia.
            Really enjoyed the meal (and bridge/opera house view) at Quay. The menu was diverse and the combination of foods in each dish featured many different textures and tastes. It is very expensive compared to top NY restaurants, but the food is more complex. They suggest a 4- course or tasting menu for dinner. Don't miss the "snowball for dessert.

            2 Replies
            1. re: chowchap

              I'm planning to have lunch there... the menu says $105/pp for a 3 course meal? Is this price correct? What do you mean when you say 'expensive'? Thanks! :)

              1. re: BestEats

                Yes, $105pp for 3 courses is correct. There is a tasting menu which is $210 as well.

              1. re: anarcist

                Yes, but you are judging it as a local. Marque is, indeed, a very impressive restaurant (I got engaged there), but it looks like a shop front in a grungy suburb (which, I suppose, it is). I would never take or direct an overseas visitor to Marque above Quay.

                1. re: mr_gimlet

                  For a visitor, Quay might be the best option.

                  But I would sooner go to Tetsuya's, Rockpool or Marque.

                  1. re: anarcist

                    Eh. I'm not a tourist and I don't care for Rockpool or Marque. I like Tetsuya's but think he's lost his edge.

                    I love Quay. Still. (Well, less when a big cruise ship is docked.)

              2. I left Sydney just over two years ago, so I'm not as current as I used to be on the dining scene. But Marque is one of the best meals in Sydney. Yes, it's in an odd location, but the food is lovely. And you will know where Bill's is so that you can go back in the morning for scrambled eggs and ricotta hotcakes (alongside crappy service no less).

                Tets is indeed very polarizing. People love it...or they hate it. It's a lot of money to shell out. That's for sure. The location is nothing special at all with no views to be had, but it is perhaps the only restaurant in Sydney that sits on the world stage. I personally would be just as happy at RISE for the omakase menu - especially on the days when it's half price. That's where I'll eat my second meal once I get to Sydney. I ate many a birthday meal there.

                I have never eaten at Quay, but if you're after a very Sydney experience like that and you enjoy seafood, I'd recommend Pier over in Rose Bay which is also waterside but lacks the Opera House and Harbor Bridge views. The food at Aria (also at Circular Quay by the Opera House) also never disappointed me.

                If you're looking for an affordable and oh-so-Sydney experience, do yourself a favor and get a cab to Balmoral Beach and indulge in fish and chips from the kiosk. Those are still probably my favorite fish and chips in all of Australia. Skip Bathers' Pavillion. I've never found it to be anything special in the few times I have eaten there, but I did have a stunning brunch at Watermark to celebrate the wedding of some friends. Balmoral remains my favorite beach in Sydney even if it was always a bit of a hike to get there.

                Whatever you do, don't miss Bourke St Bakery while in Sydney. Go to the original one in Surry Hills, and eat ginger pistachio creme brulees like they're going out of style. Get a carrot cake, too. And don't miss the sausage rolls if you're into those!

                And then go to Newtown and get yourself an affogato (the best one you've ever had) at Campos Coffee. Cap that off with some gelato from Gelatomassi down the road. Sal and Ciccio used to make my birthday cakes, and I think fig is probably my all-time favorite flavor there. I used to order custom tubs for parties, and they once made me some champagne gelato that might still be one of the best things I've ever tasted. Ever.

                Does anyone know if Oscillate Wildly still turns out great meals? It was my local before everyone discovered it, and it was fantastic even after it became impossible to get a table.

                Can you tell I miss the food in Sydney? :-)

                Enjoy your meals while there...

                1 Reply
                1. re: jre

                  Good recs. I am afraid Watermark is no more, it has become "Public Dining Room" - have not been but has a good reputation. And yes Oscillate's rep continues.

                2. always loved Tetsuya but have not tried Quay, hear Sepia

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: adelfoodie

                    I know this reply is late but why not go to both!

                  2. I went to Tetsuya's a few weeks ago and wasn't impressed. I had very high hopes, but felt like everyone there (waitstaff to chefs) were just going through the motion. I will say that I like salt, but I felt like the majority of the fish and poultry dishes were under seasoned. The standouts for me were the kingfish hamachi with black bean paste and the pigs tail and lobster dishes. The cured ocean trout was good, but nothing that I haven't had elsewhere. The desserts were good, but the winner was the carrot cake with caramel and salted peanuts (again salt). A few components of dishes were good, but didn't seem to fit with the rest of the courses.

                    The wine pairings didn't appear to be anything special. They didn't enhance the dishes as I would have expected from a restaurant of this caliber. The service was also lacking. Our 12 course meal lasted 4 hours and 45 minutes (a 24 course meal at Alinea took less time). Early in the meal we waited thirty minutes between courses (oysters and hamachi - nothing needed to be cooked). They came back on two separate times to refill wine glasses because the courses were taking so long to come out. Sure, that was nice, but it added a good half bottle of wine throughout the night. It was well past midnight before we started the 3 desserts so I finally asked the water to fire the last dishes a little quicker. Service at our table was adequate (though not speedy), but I did notice that it was lacking more at other tables. Waiters would bring out half a table dishes, head back to the kitchen for the rest of the plates for the same table. They also brought a few courses to other tables when people weren't seated. This was shocking to me coming from a place that wants to be the top of the line.

                    The space also felt a bit like a conference room. We were seated up stairs in a large open room with 3 sculptures and a few paintings on the wall. But the strange part were the massive 20 foot cielings with a large projector hanging from the cieling and the screen rolled up. Just didn't feel like "fine dining."

                    I'm glad I went and can check it off my Sydney bucket list, but I certainly won't be back. For the price of one meal and wine pairings, I'd rather go to a smaller restaurant and have a better experience. I haven't been to Quay yet, but got a gift certificate for Christmas so I'll be heading there in the next few weeks and will report back.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: BeanTownGolfer

                      Sorry BeanTown that you didn't like Tet's...it was sublime when we went there about 5 years ago but things to do change and sometimes not always for the better.

                      1. re: Beach Chick

                        I don't think Tets has dropped, instead others have caught up and thus "the bar" has been raised. Our experience also broadens and matures. Thus chefs need to constantly move forward. Although I suspect cooking is like fashion and cycles so dishes of the '70's will come back and push out the current faves.

                        One would hope he continues to evolve the Sydney restaurant but I suspect his focus (and innovation?) is elsewhere i.e. his new place "Waku Ghin" in Singapore which gets very favourable reviews and reports.

                        1. re: PhilD

                          Good point PhilD..
                          Waku Ghin looks fab.
                          I so enjoy your take on Sydney and Paris..you have such exquisite taste and love reading your posts!

                          1. re: PhilD

                            I'm with Phil on this one. Melbourne had them as well but they got crunched in the Australian recession, but often crop up in conversation - "I wish Tansy's was still around", well, you might, but you probably wouldn't go there because it would be too formal.

                            Being an icon is a double edged sword, in Sydney and in Paris. I think Greg Doyle was part of the way there when he said the three hat places were just put into the 'special occasion' box.

                          2. re: Beach Chick

                            It's not that I didn't "like" it. I think the experience just didn't live up to the expectations. There are plenty other places in Sydney on my list to hit in the next few years, so I'm still optimistic. I'll report back on Quay when I go at the end of February.