Upper level, Overseas Passenger Terminal
West Circular Quay
Every time I book a trip home to Sydney, it’s true…I’m probably more excited about putting together the “hit list” of Sydney’s best eats than actually seeing my family and friends. Shhh…
And this time, with Maid of Honour duties and family commitments over a 10-day whirlwind trip, the list had to be super concise in order to tick everything off with great gusto.
Quay Restaurant, of course, has featured year after year without any availabilities while I’ve been home, but this time…it seemed as if the food gods from above cleared their schedules to let me in. And coincidentally, the reservation happened to fall on my brothers birthday – Hipip Hooray!!
Recently voted Number 26 (up one place from 2010) on the coveted S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant’s list, Quay has become the number one restaurant in Australia and also named the Best Restaurant in Australasia.
And if there was an award for Best View in Australia, I’m confident that Quay would have been a serious contender…Situated by the Overseas Passenger Terminal in the dress circle of the harbour, our table was in the tower block offering the most spectacular views, sweeping from the Opera House to the Harbour Bridge – WOW!!
With my belly still stuffed from my late lunch, and some time constraints, our table of six opted for the 4-course menu for $155 which had 5 choices per course. There was definitely no food envy for me…I think I nailed it with my choices 🙂
With a lychee martini in one hand, the waiter kicked off executive chef Peter Gilmore’s sumptuous display of culinary genius with an amuse-bouche of eel jelly with carrot puree topped with crumbs.
Next up for me were the Sea Pearls, a signature dish which I had read much about, made up of sashimi tuna, sea scallop, crab, and smoked eel with octopus. Four perfect spheres were presented like gems on a plate. Our waitress suggested that we dissected these pearls and ate half at a time to really enjoy the flavours, before coming around the plate again to devour the rest.This seemed to work…and dare I say, my two favourites of scallop, and the smoked eel and octopus pearls seemed to balance out the blandness of the tuna and crab pearls…
Then there was the black lipped abalone. Served with pearl oyster mushrooms and rare breed pig belly. This was absolutely delicious, with all the gorgeous flavours infused in the earth and sea consommé. If anything, the pork belly probably wasn’t necessary – not because it didn’t come with crackling 😉 but because I was having the Berkshire pork jowl as my main course. Oink Oink.
The jowl is the fleshy part under the jaw of the pig. Coated with a maltose crackling and served with a cauliflower puree and prunes, this incredibly soft and tender piece of meat was certainly a highlight for me.
And then the finale. The main reason for my wanting to get a table at Quay. The Snow Egg.
Unaware they made variations of this dessert, the offering that night was Guava and Custard Apple – two of my favourite fruits…and so the anticipation was heightened.
The Snow Egg is a poached meringue egg, with a “yolk” of custard apple ice-cream, coated in a crunchy golden praline maltose shell, and sits on a bed of guava granita and a slick of guava fool. “Heavenly” sums up the taste quite nicely, and I would go as far as saying that this is probably THE best dessert I’ve ever eaten, and more scrumptious than Noma’s “Snowman” – but only just…
At just over $200 a head for the 4-course meal including cocktails, wine and coffee, it’s difficult to say whether Quay met my belly’s expectations.
Food wise, it was very good. Very very good even…I particularly enjoyed the Asian influences throughout the menu, with a Modern Australian flair. Like all the “hot tables” right now, the trend seems to be all about the nature based cuisine movement, mixed with molecular gastronomy. Noma’s head chef, René Redzepi, and Fat Duck’s, Heston Blumenthal probably demonstrate these best.
The service was as good as any medium-priced restaurant, and the room itself, lacked the grandeur one would come to expect for the number one restaurant in Australia, but then again, perhaps the designers kept the room mediocre so not to detract from the seriously incredible view.
Did You Know?
- It was Peter Gilmore’s first night back in the kitchen the night of our reservation, as he had just flown back from London for the annual S. Pellegrino Worlds Best Restaurant Awards. Trust me, I practiced serious constraint in not asking for the maitre d for an introduction 🙂
- Quay has long been one of Australia’s most awarded restaurants, one of only two to be awarded three hat status for nine years in a row. The restaurant also rewrote culinary history when it scored Best Restaurant in both major industry awards (The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2009 and 2010, and The Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide 2009 and 2010) for two years in a row