Quay, Sydney: Well worth the reputation
Mr H and I spent the first few days of the new year in Australia, staying on the Hawkesbury River at Berowra Waters for some quality relaxation time, and then we spent 36 hours in Sydney which included just one night.
It was my first time to visit the city and we’re not sure when the next opportunity to go will present itself, so we only had one option for dinner, and that was Quay (don’t worry, lunch was at Harry’s Cafe de Wheels at Woolloomooloo the next day, so we did feast on Aussie pie too).
When I was reliving the meal at Berowra Waters Inn for an earlier post I was inclined to think that the food was pretty close to that at Quay, but once I went through the menu again for Quay I realised what a special meal it was, and what a talented chef Peter Gilmore is.
Just beautiful food. The execution of the dishes is very impressive. There’s that 3* delicacy of flavour and precision of presentation that’s really delightful, (think flowers and micro herbs arranged using tweezers).
However. I had to ponder why I thought that the food at Berowra was close to Quay, and realised that the last three courses at Berowra were absolutely amazing and the whole meal reached a crescendo at the cheese course so it sits firmly in my mind as a great meal.
Whereas, Peter Gilmore’s menu was (to my palette at least) extraordinary for the first few courses, but once we’d scaled the giddy gastronomic heights of the smoked and confit pig cheek with scallops (literally cannot ever be topped), the rest of the meal wasn’t quite as good, and the whole ‘signature’ snow egg extravaganza just completely passed me by. And, whilst we are on the subject of desserts, why does anyone need two? Plus petit fours at the end. I do wish chefs would reel themselves in. Sugar overload at the end of a big meal doesn’t do anyone’s digestion any good.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome food, and worth every penny when you can spend the same amount of money in Hong Kong for food not one smidgen as good. Make sure you check out the menu.
We chose the Classic Wine Match menu to pair with the meal and it was almost exclusively Aussie wines. The premium wine matching is Old World wines, and we had no inclination to drink those in our host country. I think that would have been rather rude.
The wines were great, but I think that the sommelier at Berowra Waters actually did a better job. The wines she chose (apart from the Topaque) really made the dishes pop and they were actually enhanced by the wine, whereas at Quay you didn’t notice that so much. You just noticed that they were really nice wines. Again, I’m nit picking, it’s just that because I ate at these two restaurants on consecutive nights, I can’t help but compare.
The Space/The Ambience
We were warned when the reservation was made that there was a cruise ship in so there would be a very limited view from the restaurant. This didn’t bother us. All we wanted was a quiet corner to enjoy our food, which we got.
It was quite hilarious watching all the cruise passengers watching us right back, especially as we kept a running tally of the ratio of normal sized people to the utterly obese, (about 1:10). If that Royal Caribbean liner had gone down like the Costa Concordia, there is no way in hell that everyone would have been able to move fast enough to get off, let alone would there have been enough room in the lifeboats for all those fatties. I suppose at least they’d survive longer if rescue was delayed…
I digress. Without the view, the restaurant itself is nothing special.It’s tastefully Hyatt bland if you know what I mean. I presume they keep the lighting down so low to enable guests to get the full effect of the view across the harbour at night, but I would prefer to be able to see my food properly, and not have to worry about falling over steps that are impossible to see in the dark. Although going back to the cruise passengers, maybe they turn the lights down so that the restaurant isn’t such a goldfish bowl for people to stare into.
Can’t fault the service. It was efficient and friendly. Our sommelier was an American lady who was very informative and relaxed.
The set menu is AUS$220, and the Classic Wine matching option was another AU$95. All this is ++
The Quay is on the top floor of the International cruise terminal on the western edge of Circular Quay.
Upper Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks, Sydney 2000. Tel: +61 2 9251 5600. www.quay.com.au
It’s nice to have the luxury of being able to go to restaurants like this. The food was great with platefuls of genius early on, but I still can’t quite shake the slight disappointment of everything post pork and scallops. The wine was good, the service was good, but now I feel like I’ve been-there-done-that, and I’m raring to try some other restaurants the next time I’m in Sydney.