To see: the wonderful harbour the Opera House, Balmoral beach (quiet) and Manly beach (spectacular), the Botanical Gardens, the Rocks (some “old” Victorian buildings), the Maritime Museum for those who like such things, the Aquarium where you walk through a glass tank of sharks and the cliff walk near Bondi.
Food rating: 4/10
Phone (00 61 2) 9358 1652
Open dinner only, daily
Pricey at around GBP 65 a head all in. Nice atmosphere - trendy but relaxed. Service was excellent. The main problem is that they are trying to introduce too many flavours e.g. a passion fruit dessert with a passion fruit sauce did not need some strawberries as well. The best dish was very tender veal wrapped in bacon. The sommelier was brilliant, with an excellent wine waiter, knowledgeable and glasses perfectly topped up without prompting. Stella had tuna cooked rare with a very peppery crust, served with rocket salad and aioli - the fish was well timed but there was too much pepper, which dominated the rest of the dish. Mashed potatoes were decent. Stella had coconut mousse topped with dark cherries in cherry jelly with a cherry sauce. 2/5 overall, an expensive but enjoyable experience. Last visited February 1997.
Food rating: 8/10
Rated the one world-class Australian restaurant, with a fusion of French
and Japanese cooking. It is a 20 minute cab ride from Circular Quay
Coffee was good with rich chocolate truffles and squares of chocolate with nuts (3/5), bread rather ordinary (bought in, really only 1/5). Service was very good. The menu here was identical to the last visit, and dishes off this menu were noticeably less good, so I wonder how wide his abilities stretch - cooking the same dish for lunch and dinner every day for two years gives you plenty of chance to practice. Still probably the best restaurant in town - certainly with the most original cooking. . Last visited February 1997.
Food rating: 5/10
Phone (00 61 2) 9252 1888
Open lunch: Mon-Fri, dinner Mon-Sat
atmosphere - very fashionable clientele.
Starter of harbour prawn lasagne with asparagus and
Stella had John Dory with Indian bread (paratha) and tomato sauce laced with coriander - a decent 2/5. Roast duck was pleasant. Chocolate orange mousse cake was odd in that the majority of the dessert was chocolate mousse, in which there were pockets of raw egg white. This sat on a base of thin chocolate sponge with thick slices of orange peel (2/5).
Overall a better meal tonight than my last one here. Best dish was a passion fruit soufflé with passion fruit ice cream - (3/5). Main problem is the high price - over GBP 70 per head, and though service was good it is all a bit precious. Last visited January 1997.
Quay (used to be Bilsons)
Food rating: 6/10
Circular Quay West
Phone (00 61 2) 9251 5600
Open, lunch Sun-Fri, dinner daily
On Circular Quay itself, with a marvellous view over the harbour. Starter nibble of cream cheese with chives on a tiny round of toast (4/5). Ex Robuchon trained chef. A starter of tuna was very finely judged, served with a sauce of oriental spices and Chinese cabbage - excellent. Ravioli of prawn and truffle was excellent, with a fine prawn sauce - 4/5 for this dish. Good service - easily the most consistent of the trip.
Starter of marinated salmon with a delicious salad of "mache" leaves in a "how do they do that?" French dressing (3*/5). Main course of beautifully cooked John Dory with a smooth but slightly bland pea puree and crispy allumette (match-stick) potatoes 4/5. With wonderful mashed potatoes a la Robuchon 4/5.
For dessert, peach mousse with peach sauce had good texture with pieces of peach, but was a little bland (3/5). We drank Craig Avon Chardonnay (unoaked) One of the best three meals of the trip, along with Cicada and Tetsuya. Last visited February 1997.
Food rating: 1/10
4 the Esplanade, Balmoral
Phone (00 61 2) 9968 1133
Open lunch and dinner daily (also breakfast at weekends from )
Lovely view over Balmoral beach, though the building itself is rather faded and weather beaten. 1/5 overall which given a price tag of GBP 60 per head for lunch is pretty excessive. You are paying for the great view.
Garlic bruschetta was full of garlic but a bit too olive-oily. Prawn and coriander roll was adequate but with an overcooked outer skin, served with excellent cucumber relish marinated in French dressing with dill. A blue cheese tart was good, with light pastry and creamy very cheesy filling, served with a rather ordinary onion and fig chutney. A barramundi was served as a Thai style curry, and this was pretty good, offered with "flatbread", a sort of popadom effect served with chutney.
Grey snapper was served with green mango slivers and bean sprouts, with a sweet potato cake (too stodgy and bland) and an excellent sweet chilli sauce, with plenty of bite (3/5). Accompanying button mushrooms were pleasant.
Hazelnut waffles were served with poached apricots and praline ice cream, -pleasant rather than inspiring. We drank Mount Mary Chardonnay. Last visited February 1997.
Food Rating: 3/10
Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point
Phone (00 61 2) 9250 7548 and 9250 7578
Open dinner only, Mon-Sat
In the Opera House itself. Starter nibbles of small choux puffs with cheese sauce (2/5). A difficult menu, with a tricky set of ingredients. There is a wonderful view over the harbour, with pleasant but very slow service. On the night we went the air conditioning was unable to cope and condensation was dripping down the windows. It has a rather eccentric menu that is trying to be bold but is just unappealing.
For starter I had a reasonable quail ballotine. Stella was unable to find a starter she wanted to eat. Plain French bread 2/5. Mahi mahi with a peppercorn and soumek crust, on a bed of sliced carrots, served with puree of yet more carrots, curried. This was very good, nearly 3/5. For dessert, Stella had a summer padding served with a syllabub steeped in alcohol (2/5). I had a passion fruit Bavarian cream (= cake) with passion fruit sauce, which was OK 2/5. Coffee was fair 2/5, served with dry meringues containing peanuts (not very appetising). Piper Brook Pinot Gris and Wilton Estate Semillon were the wines tried. Last visited February 1997.
Bel Mondo, the Rocks
Food Rating: 1/10
pretentious up market Italian with ever-so-precious service that could have
been transported direct from
Guigal Chateau Neuf du Pape and de Bortoli Noble One were the wines we tried. Last visited February 1997.
Food Rating: 2/10
Phone (00 61 2) 9327 6561
Open lunch and dinner daily
Nice setting on a pier in Rose bay, a 15 dollar cab ride from the centre. The dining room is long and narrow, and is rather noisy due to the uncovered wooden floor. Starters were mixed: a salmon mousse had a stringy texture and hardly any flavour behind the salmon itself, on a bed of rocket and deep fried capers, this was really only a round-up. Yet slices of salmon "pastrami", were very lightly smoked, with peppercorns at the edge, and utterly delicious, easily 3/5. Both were served with lightly toasted "rye" (wholemeal) bread - the first decent bread of the trip. For main course, my yellowfin tuna was rare, pleasant enough, with some rather dull boiled potatoes - a sauce was needed. Stella had fried fish in insipid batter with chips, which were decent but no more than that. Home made tartare sauce was excellent though (3/5). Again, barely 1/5 for these main dishes overall.
Just one dessert was tried, and this was very fine, a perfect passion fruit soufflé with passion fruit sorbet, again 3/5 and at least as good as that at the Rockpool a few days earlier. Wine list was good, a good sommelier recommended 1991 Seppelt pinot noir, which as quite Burgundian and delicious - buy some if you ever see it. This place was very hard to mark, but around 1*/5 may be correct, veering between round up and 3/5. Service was OK but a little inattentive, other than the excellent sommelier/wine waiter. Coffee and English breakfast tea was served with a small almond biscuit. Last visited February 1997.
Food Rating: 3/10
Phone (00 61 2) 9368 1771
Open dinner only, daily
A pleasant room in modern style in Potts Point, delivering a meal of unfulfilled promise. Starters were "larb of cod", a Thai-style dish of small pieces of cod mixed in with green vegetables, leaves, peanuts and lemon grass in a spicy sweet chilli sauce. This was a stunning dish, the chilli sauce avoiding any sense of cloyingness, the tastes distinct (3/5). King prawns were very delicately cooked, served with delicate snow peas (mange tout) and sweetcorn, in a fine soy-based sauce (2*/5). Sadly the meal could not keep up the momentum. A main course of chicken with chilli sauce suffered from overcooked chicken (barely 1/5) while a whole steamed snapper, served with garlic and spring onions in a soy sauce, was pleasant enough but lacked any real impact (1*/5).
Desserts tried were honey and cinnamon cake (1*/5) with pieces of fruit (melon, pineapple, blueberries, blackberries) in a raspberry coulis. The other was ginger creme brulee with sesame biscuit, served with the same fruit garnish (2/5), the biscuit pushing 3/5. Coffee was decent but unremarkable, while boiled rice was competent enough. We drank Gerwurtztraminer from Moorilla Estate, which was a very good Tasmanian wine. Service was quite good (2/5). Overall 2/5. Tim Adams botrytis-affected Semillon was the dessert wine. Last visited February 1997.
Food Rating: 5/10
Level 41, The
Phone (00 61 2) 9221 2500
Open lunch: Mon-Fri, dinner Mon-Sat
Despite (or perhaps because) its featuring in the movie The Matrix, the food is getting more erratic on recent visits. Unlike a previous meal 5 months previously, the service was poor - slow and forgetful. Bread was ordinary (1/5). The starter (we both had the same) was the best dish: tagliatelle in a champagne sauce with shreds of black truffle and good Parmesan. The pasta was excellent, the truffle lending a lovely aroma - 4/5 would not be too high a mark for this.
everything went down from here. Beef
fillet was decent enough, on a bed of mash but with some rather overcooked
mushrooms and a jus that lacked intensity (2/5 only). Prawns with "potato waistcoats"
were prawns wrapped in a thin sheet of potato and deep fried. The prawns were tender enough, but the
stir-fried beansprouts onions and cabbage
accompanying them were burnt (1/5).
Preceding this was a little cup of chicken soup with lemongrass
(2/5). A dessert of truffle cake with
raspberries and a raspberry coulis had good texture
and flavour (3/5), while fruit sorbets (strawberry, kiwi fruit and mango) were
in a millefeuille arrangement where the sesame
biscuit layer was too hard, and surrounded by fresh fruit (mango, strawberry,
blackberries, blueberries, kiwi fruit) and passion fruit sauce (2/5 at
best). Coffee was good, with a large
espresso for once meaning that (coffee 3/5).
Petit fours comprised a tasteless Madeleine, a square of
chocolate-coloured sponge which was also tasteless, and a biscuit containing
raisins, which was good (1/5). Service
was 1/5 only, the wine list very fine but with no sommelier. Penfolds Magill Estate 1986 was very good, followed by Noble One de Bortoli (good as ever). Very expensive at GBP 85/head, as
to an extent you are paying for the fine view from the top floor of the
of the culinary dynamism of