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July Sydney Trip from USA

Bill Hunt Jun 17, 2013 07:35 PM

Hello to the OZ/NZ board.

A couple of USA residents, heading to Sydney for our first visit.

We are beginning to plan my birthday trip to Sydney in July. Since I took my wife to the Burgundy Region of FR last month, she is trying to best me for this trip. This will be our first trip to Australia, as we had a trip, two years ago, cancel at the last moment. Fortunately, we were able to cancel ALL reservations, in time, but hated to have to scrap that trip.

We are deeply into fine-dining, and wines (hence Burgundy), and will be staying downtown at the Hilton Sydney for about 7 days. The costs are not an issue, but great food and wine are.

I am looking for input on evening dining, during this trip. Here is what we have tentatively planned:

Thursday July 18th – Spa Day & Glass Brasserie @ Hilton Sydney
Friday 19th – Tetsuya’s
Saturday 20th – Hunter Valley Wine Tour & Flying Fish
Sunday 21st – Quay
Monday 22nd – Otto Ristorante
Tuesday 23rd – Est
Wednesday 24th – Glass Brasserie @ Hilton Sydney w/ early flight the next AM back to the USA

We have chosen Glass Brassierie for both our arrival evening, and then on our night before departure, as it is in the Hilton Sydney, and will keep thing “close to home.” Looking at their menu, it appears that there will be enough diversification to allow for two night of dining, with no duplication.

We are planning one day to the Hunter Valley, for wine tastings. The rest of the trip will be very laid back, with a lot of great walking.

I would love a critique of these dining experiences, from those in the know.

Thank you,

Hunt

  1. b
    BeanTownGolfer Jun 17, 2013 08:18 PM

    I would scrap Tetsuya's and go for Sepia. While it's been about 2 years since I last went to Tets, I was shocked by how bad it was (service and food) that I don't have any desire to go again. It seems like he's putting most of his creative energy into Singapore and just letting Sydney be.

    I would also look into Sixpenny for a meal. Sydney is not that big where eating out on the last night would warrant staying close to home. You'll need a cab to get there (only about 3-4 miles from the CBD), but I think you'd get a better view of Sydney/Australian dining here than a second meal at the Hilton.

    Since you enjoy wine, it would be a shame to miss some great wine bars. My favorites that off a great variety of Aussie wines would be Wine Library and Love Tilly Devine. Both offer great lists (couple hundred bottles a piece), but are great small places with fantastic staff to walk you through whatever you would like. Wine Library even has a local approach through July (I believe) that is focusing on the wines of New South Wales by the glass. If you ask for their guidance, my guess is you'll be surprised by the quality of Aussie wines these days (nothing like how they're represented with the selection in the US). Two other great wine bars that lean Italian are 10 William Street and 121BC.

    If you want a wine focused lunch, you should definitely head to Fix St James in the CBD. They know their wines and you can get by on a few small plates and still have room for a large dinner. Again, ask questions and these guys will lead you down the right wine path.

    8 Replies
    1. re: BeanTownGolfer
      Bill Hunt Jun 17, 2013 08:28 PM

      Actually, Sepia was in the mix, but fell by the wayside. Maybe time to revisit that? Maybe for our last night's meal? A cab is certainly not an issue, for this trip.

      As for the winebars, could that be a good afternoon foray? We normally have wines, while on holiday, sometimes just after breakfast, and do not mind drinking during the day, so long as we do not over-do it, for later.

      Just wondering, and thank you,

      Hunt

      PS - As for Tetsuya’s, I was a bit surprised, as they required a full contract, for a reservation for two. I have not seen that since the Russians took over Galvin at Windows at the London Hilton Park Lane, where we had dined (and hosted board dinners up to 40), in the past. Sort of odd, IMHO. Must be something new?

      1. re: Bill Hunt
        b
        BeanTownGolfer Jun 17, 2013 11:54 PM

        The contract might be because you're from overseas. When I went, I was able to get a table for 4 on a Thursday at 8pm that day. Granted it was upstairs in what felt like a big conference room (projector included). That didn't help the take away from the rest of the meal.

        I'd definitely recommend Wine Library for a nice easy lunch if you have a large dinner coming up. Plenty to walk around in that area and get out of the CBD to see the side streets.

      2. re: BeanTownGolfer
        KarenDW Jun 17, 2013 10:29 PM

        +1 on Fix St James. (I'm from Vancouver, Canada) It's a 10 minute walk from your hotel. I had ONE dinner in Sydney, enroute from Melbourne to YVR, and thought it worth every minute.

        1. re: BeanTownGolfer
          m
          mr_gimlet Jun 18, 2013 03:23 AM

          Yeah, I'd drop Tetsuya as well. I'd take Sepia or Marque any day. For a lunch with a bit of wine, maybe Bentley could go in the mix?

          Is Quay booked - they are terribly difficult to get into.

          1. re: mr_gimlet
            Bill Hunt Jun 20, 2013 06:59 PM

            Thanks for that info.

            As of now, I have requested to drop Glass for our last night (flight is out at a reasonable hour the next day), for Sepia.

            Quay was added for Sunday, at 9:00PM. That should not be an issue, other than we dine long, and not too quickly, so even when we are in Europe, with an early seating, and a grand Chef's Tasting, we have been known to close the place down, with wines leftover. Most restaurants in the US, London, Rome, Paris and much of Europe know us, and expect us to arrive early, stay late, and eat everything in the house, plus drain the wine cellar! Sydney does not know us, but they soon will. I have requested slightly larger tables, beyond a tiny two-top, as we often have dozens of wine glasses.

            Early this month, we were dining at a beautiful Michelin 1-star restaurant for many nights. After the first night, we were then seated at a 4-top, to help the staff with our wine glasses. By the end of the week, we were seated at an 8-top, at the behest of the staff - they tired of juggling our wine glasses, and the chef created a special menu, just for us. Talk about service - I'd give them 3 stars, if I was contacted by Michelin.

            Let's hope that all goes well in OZ.

            Hunt

            1. re: Bill Hunt
              PhilD Jun 23, 2013 04:14 AM

              Bill - I will bite. Why would you have dozens of wine glasses on a table at the same time (assuming your a couple). Even if you are doing a vertical flight your not really going to have that many are you? I am intrigued.

              1. re: PhilD
                Bill Hunt Jun 23, 2013 07:31 PM

                We very often do a Chef's Tasting Menu, plus the Sommelier's Pairing Menu (plus we might have a half-bottle of a "starter wine"), and retain portions (smaller with each dish), of earlier wines, to taste with later courses. It is not that we want to contradict the sommelier, but only that we like to compare different wines, with different dishes, even if atypical pairings.

                Two weeks ago, in Burgundy, we had a 14-course tasting menu, and had about 12 wine glasses each, on the table. This was our third night at the restaurant at the inn, and they quickly learned to put us at a 4-top - minimum.

                At three restaurants in San Francisco, our dossier instructs the host/hostess to seat us at special tables, like one 6-top at Farallon. They know that we are likely to have many, many glasses in front of us.

                Also, as I often do a Cheese Course, late in the meal, I often want many different wines available to me - lot's of glasses.

                Hunt

            2. re: mr_gimlet
              PhilD Jun 22, 2013 08:28 PM

              When does Bentley close - I understood its been sold to the Claude's team with the Bentley team focussed on their new place (Monopole) and a soon to open new Surry Hills site.

          2. s
            scfinson Jun 19, 2013 10:49 AM

            Bill, Please report back. I have used your advice from the NOLA board. We will be traveling to Sydney in September and have most of the places you listed in mind.

            5 Replies
            1. re: scfinson
              b
              BeanTownGolfer Jun 19, 2013 05:10 PM

              I would book Quay now for September. It can sometimes be a 3 month lead time, especially if you want a weekend. Weekdays aren't quite as bad, but still need hefty lead time.

              1. re: BeanTownGolfer
                m
                mr_gimlet Jun 20, 2013 03:53 PM

                Currently three months for non-weekends, and six months for weekends

                1. re: mr_gimlet
                  b
                  BeanTownGolfer Jun 20, 2013 05:09 PM

                  And boom goes the dynamite. Looks like I should probably book my Christmas meal then.

                2. re: BeanTownGolfer
                  Bill Hunt Jun 20, 2013 06:46 PM

                  I agree with that. We secured a Sunday at Quay, but it was not until 9:00PM (did not look to American Express Platinum Concierge, as 9:00PM works for us). This was a bit more than a month out. Not sure if they have a cutoff date, like some restaurants have. Somehow, I am a bit adverse to queuing up at a precise time (regardless of the TimeZone), to try and get a table 90 days, or similar, out. It is akin to getting a good boarding number on Southwest Airlines - I have been 3 sec. late, only to get a B boarding spot. That is why I buy their upper-level tickets, or at least my wife does. I get her A-1 almost all of the time.

                  Still, getting to Quay early IS a good practice.

                  Good luck,

                  Hunt

                3. re: scfinson
                  Bill Hunt Jun 20, 2013 06:41 PM

                  I will do just that, and hope that I am able to help you.

                  Travel safely,

                  Hunt

                4. b
                  Beach Chick Jun 20, 2013 05:24 PM

                  Aloha Bill.

                  You and Linda are going to have a blast in Sydney!
                  I loved Tet's but it has been many years when Tet's was at the top of his game but knowing how you roll, I would keep it on the list.
                  Their wine list alone is fab.

                  Quay is outstanding...book now!
                  Sean's Panaroma at Bondi Beach for lunch.
                  Heard fab things about Marque and Sepia..

                  Casual, I really like and been going every time I am in town is Lord Nelson's Brewery in the Rocks for a pint and some pub fare.

                  Fortune of War Pub in the Rocks for a pint.
                  Rockpool and Sailor Thai are solid choices.
                  Drinks at the Four Seasons bar.

                  Have a great time and hopefully, you'll get those pods things in first class.

                  AUS board is one of the best!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Beach Chick
                    Bill Hunt Jun 20, 2013 06:51 PM

                    Aloha BC,

                    Quay IS in the mix, and we moved some stuff around, and hope that Sepia will be too.

                    All of the dinners are accounted for, but we have plenty of days of lunches (and maybe some breakfasts) off-site, so will look into those breweries for lunches.

                    We hope to have plenty of time to just hang out, explore and see what shakes out. Our previous trip to Sydney was cancelled at the last moment, due to issues at my wife's biggest hospital. This is a "makeup trip," but also her present for my birthday - trying to outdo me with HER Burgundy trip, earlier this month. She hates to be outdone! I hope that she's successful.

                    Mahalo for those recs., and we hope to try most.

                    Hunt

                    PS - soon, you might have some e-mails, regarding Hawai`i.

                  2. Bill Hunt Jun 22, 2013 05:01 PM

                    Here is the revised itinerary, and thank you to the respondents on this board:

                    Evening Meals:

                    Thursday July 18th – Spa Day & Glass Brasserie @ Hilton Sydney
                    Friday 19th – Tetsuya’s
                    Saturday 20th – Hunter Valley Wine Tour & Flying Fish
                    Sunday 21st – Quay
                    Monday 22nd – Otto Ristorante
                    Tuesday 23rd – Est
                    Wednesday 24th – Sepia w/ early flight the next AM back to the USA

                    Breakfasts will probably be light, and grabbed near the hotel. Lunches will be similar, as we dine early (by Euro-standards) most nights. Light, quick and near-by.

                    I did notice that there were three restaurants, that required the "contract," and, as several have commented, that is likely due to my being from the US.

                    I am used to providing a credit card for restaurant reservations, but the contract seems to be a fairly new development. I first encountered it at Galvin@Windows at the Park Lane Hilton in London. We had dined there a half-dozen times, even hosting a 20 person, and 40 person board dinner there. We stay at the hotel, and almost always dine at Galvin 2 - 4x per year. A year ago, they required a signed contract for a party of 6, though the other 4 were also staying at the Park Lane. That was new to me, but it appears that OZ is adopting similar.

                    I also noticed that one restaurant exacts a $250/person charge, if the reservations are not honored. I mean heck, $500 is a pretty nice meal w/ some very good wines. Maybe it is a sad commentary on how diners abuse reservations?

                    Two years ago, we had our Sydney trip all planned, but as we were about to board the 747 at LAX, my wife got a call from her main hospital - major problems! We canceled the trip, and as we waited for our flight back to PHX, I called every restaurant, plus the hotel, and personally canceled each reservation. I spent about US$60 in international telephone connection charges, but felt that I needed to do that - no contracts involved. I have always felt that cancellations, where required, were my responsibility, and even if it's London, Paris, Rome or Sydney, I make the calls, and eat the costs.

                    OK, nothing but thanks to all, who responded. I greatly appreciate your time, and will report.

                    Thank you all,

                    Hunt

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                      PhilD Jun 22, 2013 07:40 PM

                      Bill - I think you will fail to get the best from Sydney with your current itinerary. I would tend to follow Bean Town Golfers advice and substitute some of the big hitters with the up and comers - Sixpenny for example. Glass Brasserie was good years ago but I feel it has lost its edge, I also feel the same for Otto (although there are rumours its recovered).

                      You are right in the middle of Sydney so can easily walk to many many restaurants so don't feel constrained. Whilst the top restaurants will have good wine lists BTG's suggestions of the wine bars may get you into far more interesting territory.

                      And if you are really really into wine then Rockpool Bar & Grill has an outstanding list (its on-line) and is based around David Doyle's collection (I think he still owns 50% of the Rockpool Group). However its a steak house so the food may not resonate with a US visitor.

                      1. re: PhilD
                        Bill Hunt Jun 23, 2013 07:31 PM

                        I have made note of these recs.. As we have the evening meals set now, I will look to some for lunches, or for our next trip down under.

                        Thank you,

                        Hunt

                    2. Bill Hunt Jul 26, 2013 07:53 PM

                      Well, this is a "quickie" on our dining in Sydney. I hope to have more detailed reports done soon.

                      All were great, and the list was pretty much as first posted, with Glass being replaced at the end, by Sepia.

                      First, as we were in Australia, we wanted to experience Australian, Tasmanian and New Zealand wines, that we do not get in the USA. In Phoenix, I can often get the very upper-end wines, but then, the selection drops off horribly, with export-only wines, that one would never drink in Australia. We charged each sommelier with the task of keeping their tastings "close to home." All but one took up that challenge, and did a fabulous job, with some innovative pairings with the various Chef's Tasting Menus. They had as much fun, as we did, and even kept adding pourings, "just in case." All were great sports, and just fell into the concept.

                      The food was very good, to great. The venues were good to great. Some could use a redo on their seating, and especially at their price-points, but that was a minor quibble.

                      Yes, some dishes were better than others, but even the least were good. In a few cases, the chefs came out, and welcomed the challenge of going beyond, along with their sommeliers. I could not have asked for more.

                      Obviously, and as per the initial request, we were looking for fine-dining, all the way around, and got that. While we might have missed some gems, those will have to wait until the next trip.

                      The weakest points were Flying Fish, and Sepia. While the sushi courses at Flying Fish were excellent, some others were lacking, as was the beginning of the service - just flat frenetic. Next, Sepia was just "so-so," and could well have been better. That tasting menu was better on paper, than in person, but still good. Sepia was the one restaurant, where the sommelier would not accommodate the Aussie wine list. As we had just returned from 10 days in Burgundy, we were not looking for some lesser French wines. Others "got it," and pulled out all of the stops.

                      All meals were worth the $, though none was inexpensive, by anyone's standards. [Sydney was just rated at the # 10 most expensive cities in the world, by many standards.] Still, I would do each on my next trip.

                      I think that Otto was the biggest surprise (the only non-tasting menu of the bunch), and Sepia was at the bottom, along with Flying Fish. Still, quite good, and worth the experience.

                      Last, the folk in Sydney were just great, and we felt like "regulars." I do not find that mind set, all that often, but Sydney managed it nicely.

                      We hope to return for a few days, and then head to South Australia for more "serious" wine tastings.

                      Thanks to everyone, for your suggestions, and recommendations.

                      More to come,

                      Hunt

                      1. Porthos Aug 29, 2013 06:43 PM

                        Great thread! Planning a trip in February.

                        Like Bill, love burgundy. I'm probably looking for more mid range restaurants. Mid range restaurants with a high end burgundy list would be ideal.

                        Eagerly await your report Bill!

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: Porthos
                          Bill Hunt Aug 30, 2013 08:19 PM

                          I had promised a full report, and the best that I have managed so far, has been a brief overview on TripAdvisor - not quite so good, but we hit the US running, and have been back in the air (though not for 15 hours for any flights).

                          Here are the highlights:

                          Thursday July 18th – Spa Day & Glass Brasserie @ Hilton Sydney - Really great food, service and wine service. Very enjoyable, though the dining room could well be "kicked up a notch."

                          Friday 19th – Tetsuya’s - Excellent venue, and the food was outstanding. The wine service was great, and we did both the Chef's Tasting Menu, plus the Sommelier's Pairing.

                          Saturday 20th – Hunter Valley Wine Tour & Flying Fish - Um-m, Hunter Valley was a nice trip, and the wines were OK, though nothing great - just not the right area for the higher-end wines. Flying Fish could have been better. The sushi dishes WERE excellent, but the service was horribly hurried, then with very long pauses, where there was no service. Not something that we were impressed by, and at several levels. OK, but not up to the rest of the dining experiences.

                          Sunday 21st – Quay - Lovely venue, and our table had great views of the Circular (many now call it the Semi-circular Quay). The food was very, very good, as was the service. The wine list is great, and the wine service was top-notch. For a view, a fine meal, and great wines, I would recommend it to anyone.

                          Monday 22nd – Otto Ristorante - This was the biggest surprise of the visit. We walked over to have a light lunch with them, and told them that we would be back later for dinner. This was one of the few restaurants, with no Chef's Tasting, or Sommelier's Pairing, BUT they wow'ed us. The venue, along the dock, is excellent, and we dined on their patio for both meals. Most of our servers from lunch, were still working, when we showed up later. The main comment was, "you guys really clean up nicely." Wife's Barrimundi was perhaps the ultimate dish of the trip, and my Beef Filet was excellent, maybe getting up to within my "Top-Ten." The wine list is very nice, and we explored it on two meals that same day - enough depth to keep me interested, and the service was great. This is a "keeper."

                          Tuesday 23rd – Est - It took us a bit to get to exactly where we were going, but it was worth the experience. The food was EXCELLENT, and the wine service surpassed even that! EST was perhaps the top of the entire trip. While Otto scored many points, the total experience came to fruition with EST. I could not have asked for anything more. Warning - when you take the elevator down, the doors open to a very, very loud, and active bar-scene. Be ready for the noise. Still, it could not have been any better. The Executive Chef/Owner was doing sommelier duties that night, and he did pull out all of the stops. Any complaints? Ur-r, maybe ear-plugs for diners, when the ride the elevator down?

                          Wednesday 24th – Sepia (this was a change). Highly touted, and near-by, we expected too much. From the moment that we entered, it was obvious that Sepia thought a lot of itself. Actually, before they would accept a reservation, we had to sign a contract, and basically pay for the meal, while still in the US. The food was just OK, and the sommelier had an issue. In all of our other dining experiences, I turned the sommelier loose (exception was Otto, which did not have a Sommelier's Pairing), and would specify that, since we were in Australia, we would like to keep the wines to Australia, New Zealand, or Tasmania. All other sommeliers were surprised, and delighted. They stepped up, made major changes to their normal pairings, and did a wonderful job. I think that they enjoyed that challenge, as much as we did. Not so at Sepia. We were told by the sommelier, that he would not deviate from his normal pairings, no matter what we wanted. He knew better, and would ONLY do his normal pairing - nothing else. Well, he missed on about 3 out of 6 dishes, so maybe he needs to rethink things? We would never return, and with many, very good reasons - too many good to great restaurants in Sydney, to waste our time, plus the total attitude was just not warranted, at least by what we were served. Advice to Sepia - drop the attitude, work on the food, plus the service, from the FOH, and maybe you will actually become a "destination restaurant." Right now, you are not even close.

                          We hope to return, as there were still some things, that we were not able to fit in. Next trip would be about 3 nights in Sydney, and then several to a bit more "serious wine country," down south.

                          Sydney is a lovely city, with great excitement, lovely people and some excellent restaurants.

                          To re-cap the sommelier situation, because we were traveling to Australia, we wanted to try and keep the wines to that area of the world. While we get some Australian wines in the US, it seems that most are "export-only" low-end wines, or just the very top of the list. There are tons of great wines, that we never get to see. We turned each sommelier loose, to work with the wines of that area. While this was a bit of an unexpected challenge to most, they jumped to the task, and wow'ed us. Only one refused, and would only serve from his B-T-G list, which did not really work well. He did that with an attitude, as well. A few of the others, dug very, very deeply into their cellars, and served some great wines, that we will likely never see, back in the US.

                          Enjoy, and travel safely,

                          Hunt

                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                            Porthos Aug 30, 2013 09:20 PM

                            Bill. Thank you much for the tremendous report!

                            Otto and Est sound very much like what I am looking for! Wine Library and Fix St James also sound promising.

                            Did you happen to notice who had a deeper and well priced Burgundy list? Not being very local friendly by sticking with Burgundy but I understand pricing on some higher end Burgundy in Australia may be much better than what we have here.

                            Thanks again for taking the time to write such a detailed report.

                            1. re: Porthos
                              Bill Hunt Sep 1, 2013 07:07 PM

                              I did not. As we had just returned from a 10-day trip to Burgundy, and as we were in Australia, I actually passed on some good FR wines, and tried to keep the sommeliers focused on "local."

                              The only wine list reading that I did, was to kill time, before the first amuse came.

                              Since the wines of Burgundy are very, very high on my list, I can tell you where to go in several cities in the US, but on the Sydney trip, I did not want to venture too far from Oceania.

                              Sorry that I am not of much help.

                              Now, In The Rocks District, there is a great wine tasting (light food too) shop, Wine Odyssey: http://www.wineodyssey.com.au/wineclub/

                              I do not recall even one Burg, but they had a very wide range of "local wines," and one could structure their personal tasting for not that much. My wife and I shared dozens of tasting glasses, of various wines, did a full pour of a few, then decided on our choices for lunch, out on the sidewalk. This was a big plus, IMHO. Well worth the walk, and the slight expense - plus the people there were just flat great fun.

                              Though Sydney is one of the 10 "most expensive cities on Earth," I have to say that they are right near the top, with regards to friendliness. We could not have enjoyed the trip any more (restaurant exceptions noted above), unless they had all offered us cases of Penfold's Grange, with free shipping back to the US. [Grin

                              ]

                              We would go again, and in a heartbeat. We still need about 4 days in Sydney, and then off to some serious wine regions, down south.

                              Sorry about the Burg recs. The only ones that caught my eye were at Tetsuya's, but as I was reading, the sparkling wines arrived, and we were off and running.

                              Enjoy, and travel safely,

                              Hunt

                              1. re: Bill Hunt
                                Porthos Sep 1, 2013 08:35 PM

                                Bill, thanks for taking the time to respond. This is very helpful for planning the itinerary.

                                mr_gimlet. What is the name of that steak restaurant in Melbourne? Currently the plan is to do 3 days Melbourne and 4-5 days Syndey.

                                1. re: Porthos
                                  m
                                  mr_gimlet Sep 1, 2013 08:47 PM

                                  Oh, i didn't realise you were coming to Melbourne!

                                  Charcoal Grill on the Hill is the steak place I mentioned. It's in Kew in the inner eastern suburbs.

                                  I'd also recommend France Soir in South Yarra for both its bistro food and winelist, it is an institution that has been going for decades. I also suspect PM24, a rotisserie restaurant/ brasserie, would have an excellent wine list (albeit not that deep) without too bad markups - the chef was a Head Chef for Bocuse.

                                  And if you fancy the BYO route, I would suggest going to Rathdowne Cellars in Carlton and then walking three doors down to La Luna.

                              2. re: Porthos
                                m
                                mr_gimlet Sep 1, 2013 08:30 PM

                                I'm surprised to learn that we could actually be cheaper on wine than the US! I'll take your word on this.

                                There are two possible tricks that might help: first, somewhere with a notoriously good wine list and second, somewhere that doesn't put too much markup on their wines. The overlap of these is pretty small unfortunately - there are a couple in Melbourne - one is a steak house whose owner is a burgundy obsessive.

                                Trophy winelists - I am sure someone local can help me out, but the Rockpool list is always quoted (my recollection is about thirty pages of red burgundy) and with preplanning you could access any of the group's wines at any of their restaurants.

                                A third avenue you might look at is to find a BYO restaurant - BYO means bring your own, but there are good restaurants that allow this as well as cheap and cheerfuls. They do charge for corkage, but on a top end bottle it will be a trifle compared to their markup. Then just find a good wine shop, I normally go to Ultimo Cellars but I think they might have retired.

                                Not being from Sydney, I can't tell you where all the BYOs are - a quick look at time out tells me Seans Panaroma, Fix St James and Tetsuya are all BYO.

                                1. re: mr_gimlet
                                  b
                                  BeanTownGolfer Sep 2, 2013 04:21 PM

                                  In Melborune, if you're ok with BYO places (France Soir included, I believe), you should check out Randall's Wine Shop (http://randalls.net.au/). Randall imports wines from France with a heavy concentration on Burgundy. You could easily organize ahead of time for him to put a 6 or 12 pack together and have it delivered to your hotel when you get to Melb. He could also ship to Sydney as well. It's easy to carry a few bottles on the flight in Australia (no liquid size restrictions).

                                  If you want off the list, I'd also suggest Moon Under Water/Builders Arms Hotel (Melb - ask for Moon Under Water if you eat at the Bistro), City Wine Shop (Melb), Monopole (Sydney), Rockpool Bar and Grill (Melb & Syd - will be expensive but would have your pick). The strong Aussie Dollar of the past two years has definitely increased in imports from Europe and strengthened the local lists. But certainly don't overlook the local wines.

                                  1. re: BeanTownGolfer
                                    Porthos Sep 2, 2013 08:31 PM

                                    Thanks for the recs! Monopole looks outstanding. Great looking menu at the right price point. A definite on the itinerary. Modern Australian cuisine is definitely what we''re looking for.

                                    Prix fixe for Moon Under Water is also looking like a go. Many thanks!

                                    Pricing on the French stuff is about the same as the US. Will probably go local which is probably the better way to go anyways.

                                2. re: Porthos
                                  PhilD Sep 2, 2013 11:27 PM

                                  I think you Burgundy strategy makes little sense. It's going to be expensive and fairly limited and more of a trophy list for top restaurants. I always find Australia has fairly limited imports of any foriegn wine and the tax and import duties make them really expensive for what they are are. Save Burgundy for France and concentrate on the local, more obscure wines.

                            2. b
                              Beach Chick Jan 10, 2014 05:56 AM

                              Aloha Bill. .
                              We are looking at spending some time this year at Qualia resort, Hamilton Island...have you heard about this Relais & Chateaux property or have others been to this resort...hear that the food and wine is divine and the property is stunning.

                              Happy New Year!

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Beach Chick
                                m
                                mr_gimlet Jan 10, 2014 02:10 PM

                                Yes, I know colleagues who have been. Very nice property. My recollection is that there are two restaurants: a sort of shared plate antipasti/ seafoody one, and a posh one. He said the food in the posh one was pretty good, especially for a secluded resort, but played it safe for the international clientele. So I think 'divine' might be a bit over the top. The owner of the resort is a winemaker so that side should be good.

                                For anyone else reading this thread, the downside is it's breathtakingly expensive... over a grand a night is serious chow territory. But it is beautiful.

                                1. re: mr_gimlet
                                  b
                                  Beach Chick Jan 11, 2014 05:44 AM

                                  Thank you so much for the feedback Mr. Gimlet.

                                2. re: Beach Chick
                                  Bill Hunt Jan 10, 2014 06:42 PM

                                  Aloha BC,

                                  We have not been, though we are fans of the R&C properties, staying at many around the globe. We have always been wow'ed, but cannot comment on this one.

                                  Sorry,

                                  Hunt

                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                    b
                                    Beach Chick Jan 11, 2014 05:47 AM

                                    Aloha Bill!
                                    I know how much you and Linda love R&C properties and thought I would ask.
                                    Hope all is well and will be in your town, next month.

                                    Aloha

                                    1. re: Beach Chick
                                      Bill Hunt Jan 11, 2014 05:53 PM

                                      No problem asking.

                                      On the Sydney trip, we stayed downtown at the Hilton (actually better than anticipated), and only did a day-trip to the Hunter Valley.

                                      We hope to go back, and complete Sydney (who would have known that we did not allow enough time?), then head out to the heavy-hitter wine country, down south. Then, we will likely explore some R&C properties.

                                      If the second trip is as good as our first, then I will have a bunch to report and review.

                                      Good luck, an hope that things are wonderful.

                                      Hunt

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