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Sydney Downtown Recs. Please

Bill Hunt Aug 2, 2010 09:27 PM

Hello from “sunny” Arizona, USA,

We’ll likely be doing our first trip to OZ in November, 2010 for a business meeting. As it appears, we’ll be staying at the Hilton Sydney, 488 George St., in Sydney. There will be meetings for most days, but we will be free for dinners on about four evenings.

We will not have an auto, so either a taxi, walking or public transportation would be required. We both love higher-end, fine-dining, and are both avowed winos - a good reason to NOT hire an auto for the trip.

We are looking for about 3 - 4 evenings of dining recs., and are open to all cuisines. Price is not really an object, but great food and service are, especially with a really well-thought-out wine list, that pairs with the fare from the kitchen.

I have read some nice reviews of the Glass Brasserie, but do not know how accurate those might have been.

To give an idea of what we enjoy most, here are some of our favorite restaurants:

Restaurant August, New Orleans, LA, USA, http://www.restaurantaugust.com/pdf/sample_menu.pdf

Restaurant Gary Danko, San Francisco, CA, USA,
http://www.garydanko.com/flash/GaryDanko.html

Le Bernidine, NYC, NY, USA,
http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/le-bernardin/menu

The French Laundry, Yountville, CA, USA,
http://www.tkrg.org/upload/fl_menu.pdf

The Greenhouse, London, Mayfair, UK,
http://www.greenhouserestaurant.co.uk/greenhouse.htm

La Mer, Honolulu, HI, USA,
http://www.halekulani.com/dining/la_mer/

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Bill Hunt

  1. Bill Hunt Dec 2, 2010 03:53 PM

    I want to thank all, who responded in this thread. Unfortunately, we have had to cancel our trip to Sydney, due to business reasons. We hope to reschedule in 2011.

    I did not want anyone to think that I showed up, got great recs. and then did not review the restaurants, upon our return.

    Appreciated,

    Hunt

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bill Hunt
      Beach Chick Dec 5, 2010 08:14 AM

      Only a class act like you Bill, would be so kind to let us know you had to cancel.
      Hope all is well and I will raise my glass to you during the holidays.
      Best,
      Beach Chick

      1. re: Beach Chick
        Bill Hunt Dec 6, 2010 07:05 PM

        We may, or may not, be able to schedule a quick O`ahu trip, in lieu of that Sydney trip. Things are hectic and horrible at the hospital, so only time will tell.

        Still, when we can get Sydney back on the calender, thanks to this board, we have great recs. and will pursue each one. Then, I will report, as I definitely owe it to this board.

        Here's hoping,

        Hunt

    2. k
      kelewis Oct 25, 2010 10:07 AM

      I'll second (third? fourth?) Becasse and Quay. Both are required dining for any tour of higher-end places in the city. And both fit quite comfortably in the company you mention. Becasse gets extra credit for having a NZ chef!!

      4 Replies
      1. re: kelewis
        Bill Hunt Nov 4, 2010 07:29 PM

        Well, the restaurants are shaping up. Becasse (and Glass) is on the list. However, Quay says that all tables are booked for six months out, so nothing available at any time, until about March, 2011.

        Now for my question. In the business, I have contacts, and some owe me favors. Is Quay worth "pulling strings," just to get in for a dinner for two? Is it worth pulling in all the "chips?" I've done that in the past, and it's worked out well, but then it takes years to build up a good stack of "favors," and I'd hate to clean 'em all out, if it is not an "end-all-be-all" in Sydney. If it is, then I will attempt to "sneak in," even if it means that horrible little 2-top next to the privy. [Grin]

        Thanks everybody, and reports to follow in mid-Dec, after our return.

        Hunt

        1. re: kelewis
          Bill Hunt Nov 4, 2010 08:21 PM

          Well, I just called in some of those "chips," and got a table at Quay. I anticipate that it will be worth the "cost." I think that I now owe more people, than those who owe me. Quay it is.

          Now, one question - we love doing the "chef's tasting menus," and I often will avail myself of the "sommelier's pairings" for the wines to match each course. Has anyone had any experience with this?

          Thanks,

          Hunt, the Yank heading to OZ

          1. re: Bill Hunt
            PhilD Nov 5, 2010 12:56 PM

            Hunt - sorry can't comment on Quay as I have not been for a few years. Interested to hear what other spots you have on your list?

            1. re: PhilD
              Bill Hunt Nov 5, 2010 06:27 PM

              Here is the lineup:

              Glass Brasserie
              Quay
              Sepia
              Becasse
              Assiette

              I hope to have reviews up within a week of our return - mid-December.

              Thanks to all,

              Hunt

        2. j
          jre Oct 25, 2010 07:36 AM

          I think seafood and Asian food are the standouts in Sydney - in addition to "modern Australian," of course!

          My suggestions would be:

          Thai –
          Spice I Am in Surry Hills (choo chee snapper! the only hole in the wall with a SMH chef's hat and the most authentic Thai in Sydney!)

          and Sailors Thai in The Rocks – canteen downstairs is cheaper (delicious mango with sticky rice!)

          Japanese-Italian fusion (sort of) –
          The omakase meal at Rise in Darlinghurst – look for the half-price nights
          (one of my favorite places to eat! - but not a strong wine list by any means)

          Sushi train (in case you need a snack!) -
          Makoto in the CBD (downtown)
          the absolute best scallop tempura hand rolls ever - and the spider rolls are good as well!

          for the Chinatown experience (quite walking distance from your hotel) -
          Golden Century (or Marigold)

          for drinks with a view -
          Opera Bar at Circular Quay

          (The Water Bar at Blue on the wharf at Woolloomooloo also has wonderful cocktails and is worth the short cab ride, but I personally don't think very highly of the restaurants on the wharf!)

          Great food but hard to get a table –
          Oscillate Wildly in Newtown
          (cardamom panna cotta with chili toffee is one of the best things I've ever eaten! - not a huge wine list but solid - right by the train stop at Newtown)

          Bakery (in case you are looking for breakfast outside the hotel!)–
          Bourke St Bakery – the original one in Surry Hills – ginger pistachio crème brulee tarts, carrot cake, and fennel sausage rolls

          Splurge –
          Marque in Surry Hills (with the matching wine pairings, of course!)

          Seafood -
          Pier in Rose Bay
          (very pricey and have not been in a long time - best check with others to make sure it's still excellent)

          Views (and great food and wine!) -
          Quay or Aria in Circular Quay

          If you're ever looking for lunch, there's an Asian food court underneath Woolworths right across from Town Hall. Cheap and delicious. Eat lots of laksa while in Sydney!

          1. klyeoh Sep 15, 2010 02:14 AM

            I dined at Glass 3 times in one week during my last trip to Sydney. Loved every meal :-)

            1. Jarliei Sep 7, 2010 03:37 PM

              Bill,
              I my opinion, Food experience is like Love, it is all in the eyes of the beholder, when I read somebody commentary (see replies to your post) there are immediately two questions that come into mind with regards to the reviewer,
              (1) What criteria are employed in the assessment?
              (2) Are those my criteria’s?
              Rarely if ever, an answer to #1 is offered, so much for the “experts” opinion.
              I find it difficult to respect Columnists and self-proclaimed critiques as guides to performing arts, taste, flavours or gustatory sensation. The first are motivated by commercial loyalties whilst the second’s motivations are unknown to me, s/he could be either another social climber swelled head wannabee sheep that follows the flock, fuelled by arrogance, egotism and self-importance or alternatively, a modest, humble person who had a great night out.
              My first question has always been “in the last six month, how many times have you visited this establishment?”, if it is less than three – then keep your opinion to yourself, more than five – I am listening, but tell me WHY you think what you think.
              For myself I do not want nor expect Excellent Food, Excellent Wine list, Excellent Service, Excellent Ambience and Excellent whatever, one has to be hallucinating or in love (one of the same?) to expect these as a single package at a single establishment at each and every single night out, something always does not quite happen as the establishment would have like it to be, this is a commercial reality, so what? That’s life. To think and / or to expect otherwise is like residing in a La La Farm where nothing ever SEEMS to goes wrong.
              Personally, what I do expect is to dine with a pleasant company in an establishment that honestly and truly have the capacity to and do tries to excel.
              And I care little under whose currant fashionable name they are operating, I leave that to the paid critiques and the wannabbes to be impressed by, I just want a pleasant night out.

              For instance my gustatory perception* for dining in 2010 Sydney are (randomly) as follows.
              On a Saturday Night:
              Rockpool Bar and Grill
              Pier restaurant Rose Bay
              Claude
              for Mid-week:
              Custom House
              Aria
              Bei Amici

              ‘ * My perception is always fine, I always see both point of view, the one that’s wrong and mine.
              (Apologies, I just could not resist this.)

              2 Replies
              1. re: Jarliei
                Bill Hunt Sep 7, 2010 06:49 PM

                I see that you found CH!

                I have a great list now, and wish to give a big "Thanks" to all. Just hope to get to half of these restaurants. So much will depend on wife's meetings.

                If this trip comes together, I will offer some reviews of the spots, where we dine.

                From the Northern Hemisphere - a great bit "Appreciated Mates!"

                Hunt

                1. re: Jarliei
                  PhilD Sep 8, 2010 12:56 AM

                  Jarliei - an interesting perspective, I hope you take the time to work out who on Chowhound views correspond to yours regarding food and dining.

                  There are lots of great contributors to the board and most are not "another social climber swelled head wannabee sheep that follows the flock, fuelled by arrogance, egotism and self-importance or alternatively" instead they are people who love food and have had a broad range of dining experiences. There breadth of experience adds relevance to their reviews.

                  Next time you are looking for a mid-week feed in the Circular Quay area head for "Etch", it easily outshines Customs House, which for me is a typical "work function" place. IMO Etch also gives Aria a run for its money.

                2. m
                  mr_gimlet Aug 4, 2010 06:46 PM

                  Phil hs covered it off very well, but since you are in the Hilton you are next door (in Galeries Victoria) to a fantastic little Malaysian that does great laksa and chicken rice. Only open through the day though. Glass is good for a restaurant hotel, there are better options but if you ae tired and don't want to go out it could be an option.

                  Personally, I would skip Tetsuya for most other three hats in Sydney.

                  1. Beach Chick Aug 4, 2010 06:05 PM

                    Loved Tetsuya's..wine list and food was sublime...better imho, then French Laundry.
                    Enjoyed Quay and Sailor Thai..
                    I've had good food and beer at Lord Nelson's Pub in the rocks..great for lunch.
                    You've got the best (PhilD and the Syd food guy) giving you advice.
                    Have a great time and report back!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Beach Chick
                      Bill Hunt Aug 4, 2010 06:17 PM

                      Aloha Beach Chick!

                      Are you in OZ?

                      Mahalo for the recs.. You folk are great. Now, if we can iron out the details of the trip, all looks good, thanks to you "guys."

                      Greatly appreciated, and I will report,

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                        Beach Chick Aug 4, 2010 06:57 PM

                        Aloha Bill!
                        Native San Diegan but lived briefly in Rose Bay, Sydney.
                        Maybe Tet's has changed but knowing how you roll, I'd add it to your list.
                        Mahalo and I'll toast to you at La Mer in September.

                        1. re: Beach Chick
                          Bill Hunt Aug 4, 2010 09:12 PM

                          You know that I trust your palate, so you do not have to be a native now!

                          We're trying to get a do-over on our ill-fated May Hawai`i trip in early Dec., so this will be a prelude to that - if it comes off.

                          I will reciprocate in Dec, and hoist one to you at La Mer.

                          Thanks,

                          Hunt

                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                            Beach Chick Aug 5, 2010 08:59 AM

                            ; )

                    2. s
                      Syd.FoodGuy Aug 2, 2010 11:24 PM

                      Hi Bill,
                      November is a great time to visit Sydney. It will be warm and sunny - I really think that Sydney shows off quite well in the Summer. Your list of favourite restaurants makes me salivate, so I'm hopeful that Sydney stands up to your pallette!

                      My favourites in the city are Becasse (http://www.becasse.com.au/) They have a degustation menu that runs A$130, A$190 with matched wines. Impeccable service. Becasse is on Clarence Street, and would be no more than a 5 minute walk from the Hilton.

                      About a 20 minute walk/5 minute cab to Circular Quay, Sydney's star of the moment is Quay. (http://www.quay.com.au) - Quay has a stellar view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, ask to be seated in the rotunda when you make your booking. It's #27 in the world, according to the S.Pellegrino 50 Best countdown, and the food is truly sensational. The degustation is A$210 per head, with a $90 or $190 wine option. For my wife and I, Quay takes the cake as the best in Sydney.

                      Heading South, I'd recommend a venture into Surry Hills to go to Marque. Mark Best is the chef here and is doing some pretty wonderful things. Last I checked, the website was under renovations (http://www.marquerestaurant.com.au/), last time I went, the degustation was $145/head with $75 for the matched wines. His chaud-froid free range egg is pretty incredible, and on the whole - the dining experience is very cool.

                      That's my top 3 for Sydney. Several of the other threads here argue the merits of Tetsuya's as well, which is certainly a great meal, but for me - it's not really the greatest that Sydney has to offer.

                      Honorable mentions go to: Rockpool Bar & Grill as an Omnivore's Promised Land, Berowra Waters Inn (not at all close to the city, but if you really want to live like a rockstar, hire a seaplane to take you there from Rose Bay, which is a quick cab from the city), and Flying Fish in Pyrmont - which I would argue is one of Sydney's sexiest dining rooms.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Syd.FoodGuy
                        Bill Hunt Aug 3, 2010 09:27 PM

                        Thank you.

                        If nothing else, your screen name tells me to pay close attention.

                        Walking distance (or a cab ride) is ideal, and we love tasting menus. Though I enjoy pairing wines with food, for a multi-course meal, when it is just the two of us, I also like to turn the sommelier loose. I always learn something new, and we do not end up with a bunch of half-empty bottles on the table.

                        I will make note of those recs. and hope that we can put this together.

                        We've never been to OZ, though "travel" there via many wines. We are looking forward to the visit.

                        Thank you so much for taking the time, and for sharing the culinary delights of your city. Hope that I can reciprocate sometime in the future.

                        Hunt

                        1. re: Bill Hunt
                          s
                          Syd.FoodGuy Aug 3, 2010 11:18 PM

                          Hi again! Just to clarify the matching wines that are on offer with the tasting menus - these are usually just glasses of wine (150ml pours). With 8 to 10 courses, I could only imagine what bottles or even half bottles would do to me! I'd be completely tanked!

                          1. re: Syd.FoodGuy
                            Bill Hunt Aug 4, 2010 06:20 PM

                            In most of our "sommelier's pairings," the pour has been what would be considered a "half glass." Now, in the US, there are some, who feel that a glass of wine should be to the rim, even with a Riedel Sommelier Bdx. glass! OTOH, I know what a "glass" should be, and greatly appreciate lighter pours, especially with a multi-course meal.

                            We've done 15-course tasting menus, with the sommelier's pairings, and have still been able to walk to the room! [Grin]

                            Thanks for the clarification though.

                            Hunt

                        2. re: Syd.FoodGuy
                          PhilD Aug 4, 2010 02:39 AM

                          Very good recommendations.I would add "Sepia" which is an all star chef and sommelier team, the chef is the ex-head from Tets so has a great pedigree. For me Sepia is the rising star of Sydney dining.

                          Another one is Assiette which is cheffed by one of the ex-Bank alumni (Brett from the Ledbury in London is the same pedigree) and is turning out good food.

                          One good idea is to build in some contrast. For gourmet Thai head to Sailors Thai (the restaurant not the canteen) or Longrain (no booking), and for Chinese regional Neil Perry's (of Rockpool fame).

                          Rockpool Bar & Grill has David Doyle's wine collection on its list and has just won a Wine Spectator Grand Award, if you like good wine (and have deep pockets) this is a place to go - http://www.rockpool.com.au/blog/tag/d...

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