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Sydney, Today

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Going to Sydney soon for a few weeks on business (and they're trying to get me to relocate there... we'll see about that). Where should I eat besides Quay and Tetsuya's?

I wish I could have tasted it.

My dinner at Tetsuya's ten years ago, for comparison.   Caviar and snow egg sandwich; beetroot and blood orange salad; gazpacho with spiced tomato sorbet; tuna tartare with goat curd and wasabi  

Now I remember why I gave up my subscription to Australian Vogue Entertaining + Travel: couldn't stand the monthly rush of jealousy at the restaurants there. :P

There is some great food in Sydney, but I think there is more great food in New York.

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the pie face's here aren't good.


They're fast food. I've been using them as drunk food. Most of the Pie Faces in Sydney aren't even freestanding shops, they're just a counter within a convenience store.

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On the bread situation in Sydney: some restaurants automatically give you bread (Pendolino actually had a first-class bread basket with three types of bread and three types of olive oil), but most places seem to charge $2 or $3 for bread - but they waive the charge if you order a main course.

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Mr. Moustache is a mezcal cocktail bar a few blocks from Bondi Beach. They supposedly carry every type of mezcal currently being imported into Australia. The selection is pretty impressive. I count about 65-70 different mezcals, including 10 from the Del Maguey line, 9 from El Jolgorio, and 6 from Pierdre Almas.

I arrived at about quarter to three (they open at I think 11) to be told that they have a limited cocktail menu until 4pm, which is extremely fucking annoying. The only thing they would make me is a margarita.

So I ordered a margarita (which was OK, nothing special) and some food, and decided to wait it out.

I ordered a lamb slider and three tacos - shrimp, cochinita, and beer-battered fish. All pretty good. Then I went for a walk around Bondi Beach and returned an hour later.

Mr. Moustache himself greeted me - he told me that the menu was a collaboration between him and Phil Ward of Mayahuel. He then asked the bartender to make me a drink called Cloud People - ancho-infused mezcal, pineapple, lime, agave, and smoked fleur de sel. It was outstanding.

I followed this with a Pueblita - mezcal, reposado tequila, cognac, Benedictine, and peychaud's bitters. Nice & boozy.

I noticed that they had two bottles of Mezcaloteca mezcal above the bar - one of my favorite mezcals that I tried at Pujol - so I asked Mr. Moustache about them, because we can't get them in New York. He said that he smuggled them back in his luggage!

Next up was a banana spiced old fashioned. This was terrific - autumn in a glass. Banana-infused rum , allspice dram, cinnamon syrup, and angostura bitters.

Very enjoyable bar - definitely worth a visit (after 4pm).

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Dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel's fancy restaurant tonight - I think Kable bit the dust. The current restaurant is called The Woods - the menu was designed by the chef of another popular Sydney restaurant called Bar H. The theme at The Woods is wood-roasted meat.


I started with a tomato and house-made ricotta salad. It was good, although a similar salad I had at The Cannibal a few months back was better. The tomatoes here just aren't as flavorful (or maybe are out of season?).


The main was roasted venison leg, with a side of duck fat-fried potatoes. (Of course the potatoes were good.) The venison was flawlessly cooked - a perfect medium-rare, unlike most steakhouses around here - with a nice char on the outside. The meat itself was not gamey at all - which I consider a disappointment - and rather bland, but not terrible.


Dessert was a creamy tart with a scoop of ice cream - can't even remember what it was, but it was alright.


The above, plus a half bottle of shiraz and some coffee came to 120 AUD.


They also offer whole pigs and lambs for around 800 AUD. Trying to convince my boss to take us out for that. :D

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Dinner tonight at Quay (pronounced like "key", by the way), which was just recently bumped down to number 60 on the SP list. I doubt anything has really changed at this restaurant to warrant the demotion, but in any case this really should not be considered one of the world's great restaurants. Quay is a Nice Special Occasion Restaurant that executes fairly safe food very competently. Certainly there is a place for such restaurants, and I wouldn't discourage anyone from going to Quay - I just think it's overrated. And overpriced, although I suppose you're paying extra for the view - but there are plenty of places around The Rocks with a great view (including a few in the very same building that houses Quay).

The room, while plush and comfortable, is feeling a little dated. I had a pretty nice seat along a brown banquette facing the opera house. The walls and ceilings are mirrored; the carpets are purple. It has a kinda cruise ship feel to it. Service throughout the night was fine.

Their cocktail list is a little lengthier than one would expect, but mostly uninteresting. I ordered a "Barbados", which was advertised as two types of rum, muddled with orange and a little simple syrup. It arrived in a fat low ball glass that was full of fruit. Seriously, there had to be a whole orange in there.

I went with the four course prix fixe @ 175 AUD - on the prix fixe they also nickel and dime you an extra $10 for coffee or tea. (That's another peeve of mine - extremely expensive restaurants that charge extra for coffee.)

The meal included bread and water! Two types of bread, in fact - a sour dough and a sort of seeded whole wheat bread - both pretty good.

The amuse was a little bowl of pumpkin seeds with a bitter pumpkin gelee and a base of milk curd - which tasted kind of like buttery yogurt. A nice start.

The first course was a congee of mud crab and hearts of palm with an egg yolk emulsion. A very delicious little dish, although not a "wow" moment.

Next was roasted abalone with braised cucumbers, onions, and seaweed, with a broth made from anchovy and agretti. My first time having abalone - it was sort of like a slice of scallop, only bland and much more firm. Eh. This dish was just OK, although I did really enjoy the umami richness of the broth.

The main course was a winner - duck poached in fermented green plum stock with scorched amaranth leaves, umeboshi, forbidden rice, and off to the side a salad of mesclun greens. I have no idea where the forbidden rice or umeboshi came in with this dish - maybe they were used in the sauce - which had a sweet and sour taste going on. The flesh of the duck was unusual in that it had what i would describe as a silky texture - sort of like the "buttery" duck at Ristorante Morini. Maybe this is a result of poaching or sous vide? Anyway, Quay's duck was excellent - although I wouldn't place it above the fabulous duck at The Elm when PL was in the kitchen every day.

It was interesting that all three savory courses had Chinese flavor profiles. It seems to be a trend in Sydney that a lot of the top restaurants are Asian fusion.

The dessert was a "snow egg" with apple granita. Basically a ball of meringue filled with custard, dusted with powdered sugar, atop apple granita. The meringue tasted slightly eggy (maybe that was the idea - heh), but otherwise the snowball was great. The apple granita underneath tasted more of ice than apple, though.

So overall a pretty good meal. I liked Sepia better, though. If Quay were in NYC I think it would straddle the line between two and three stars. It could go either way depending on the reviewer.

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