Quay Restaurant Sydney, Australia

The view

The view

Peter Gilmore’s Quay Restaurant Sydney is probably the most critically acclaimed Australian restaurant on the international stage at the moment and Australia’s most awarded. It ranked 29th on the 2012 San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants List, the only Australian restaurant to make it into the top 50, and it holds ‘Three Hats’ from the influential Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide’s restaurant rating system, the maximum possible. Peter Gilmore is also something of a celebrity chef in Australia, with appearances on the ever-popular Australian version of Masterchef. He also won the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide’s Chef of the year award in 2012.

One of the winning factors about Quay is its location right on Circular Quay West which offers diners some of the most spectator views of Sydney Harbour. Quay is spread over two floors, and to maximize on the views the tables are arranged along the windows as if at a 90 degree angle. On one side of the restaurant you get the Harbour Bridge, and on the other you have The Sydney Opera House. Otherwise there isn’t much else to the décor. It’s all white-linen laid tables and blue carpet. It’s worth noting that the view of The Opera House is sometimes obstructed when cruise ships are docked in the Harbour although the restaurant will advise you of whether this will be the case at the time of your booking.

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Sake Restaurant Sydney, Australia

Sake Restaurant

Sake Restaurant

Sake Restaurant operates a chain of contemporary fusion Japanese restaurants in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, with the Sydney branch sitting in the historical and touristy Rocks area near Circular Quay. The décor is lavish, yet simple; sexy, yet understated. It’s really nicely done. Catering to an upmarket and fashionable crowd, its hit the mark as the kind of place one goes to see and be seen.

As befits the name, Sake Restaurant has an amazing sake collection. The sake sommelier suggested that we try the Kozaemon Junmai Daiginjo as our aperitif (a small carafe is $58 – about £38). At over 300 years old, Kozaemon is one of Japan’s most established sake houses and Junmai Daiginjo is its premium label. It brews its sake in the mountains of Japan’s Gifu prefecture. It was delicious, as smooth as silk and an excellent way to start our meal. We also tried a couple of cocktails ($18 to $20 – about £12 to £14) which were also very tasty.

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Pendolino – Sydney, Australia

Pendolino is a refined upmarket Italian situated in the heart of Sydney’s Central Business District. It’s an elegant looking restaurant – very dark, very intimate – the perfect type of restaurant for date night. Be that as it may, it has a welcoming attitude towards children as there were a few dining at the restaurant during our visit. This was nice to see as it’s so rare for such a swish looking venue to be so relaxed about child diners.

Pendolino holds a ‘One-Hat’ (out of a maximum three) from the influential Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide’s restaurant rating system. The menu makes for a wonderful read, the type that could easily tempt you to over order. There are a range of starters, pastas and risotto that come in both starter and main sizes, mains, and of course dessert. All the pastas are hand-made daily on the premises.

I went to Pendolino with FoodPornNation who has eaten there before and absolutely loves the food. She strongly advocated that we try a starter of Alba style free-range beef carpaccio with truffled white walnut puree, testun di barolo cheese, rocket cress, wild baby olives and handmade rosemary grissini
($24.90, about £16) which was a knockout. The way in which the paper-thin carpaccio melted on the tongue was sheer magic, and the aromatic hints of the truffle were a pure delight. This was a glorious dish that one could easily eat over and over again.

Alba style beef carpaccio

Alba style beef carpaccio

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Ms. G’s Sydney, Australia

Ms. G's

Ms. G’s

All funky Sydney foodistas seem to looove Ms. G’s, a quirky, offbeat ‘Westernised’ fusion Asian restaurant located in Sydney’s pulsating Potts Point/Kings Cross area. Its décor is unconventional to say the least – a neon door out front, buckets hung from ropes, a graffitied wall, communal tables – all laid out over an impressive four floors of eating space. Its approach to dining is that it should be fun – take the bubble-tea cocktails on the menu, a twist on the bubble-tea ‘teas’ made famous by the Taiwanese. And that’s before we even hit its famed signature dessert of ‘Stoner’s delight’, where the secret ingredient for the dish was ‘the mind of a stoner’.

If there were there two things that were also going to guarantee Ms. G’s success, one would be that the Merivale Group is its owner, the multi-million dollar Australian hospitality business with the Midas touch that seems to turn almost every one of its bar and restaurant openings into a major success story. The second is that David Chang’s Momofuku is the inspiration behind Ms. G’s. The story goes that chefs Dan Hong and Jowett Yu hosted David Chang at a dinner at their previous restaurant, Lotus, and from that gathering the idea for Ms. G’s was borne. And to further guarantee its success, the influential Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide has also awarded Ms. G’s a ‘One Hat’ out of a possible three from its restaurant rating system.

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Sepia Restaurant Sydney, Australia

Here is the first of a series of reviews from some of the hottest restaurants in Sydney at the moment. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed eating at them. Cheers.

Sepia Restaurant is one of the most exciting restaurants to dine at in Sydney right now. It was borne as a collaboration between British-born Chef Martin Benn, formerly the Head Chef at Tetsuya’s, and Sydney seafood king George Costi of De Costi Seafoods. Benn began his cooking career at the Oak Room in London, after which he moved to The Landmark, and later to the Criterion where he cooked under Marco Pierre White. He located to Australia in 1996 and spent some time at Sydney’s Forty One Restaurant before moving to Tetsuya’s in 1999.

It was at Tetsuya’s where he honed the contemporary/Japanese fusion approach to cooking for which Sepia is known. As far as restaurants in Sydney goes, Tetsuya’s is legendary, and in 2012 it ranked 76 on San Pellegrino’s World’s Best Restaurants list. A Head Chef position at Tetsuya was therefore no mean feat, especially as Benn achieved it at the ripe young age of 25.

Sepia opened in 2009, and in a few short years, it has gained notable success. In 2011, the influential Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) Good Food Guide awarded Benn its coveted Chef of the Year title. This was followed by
Sepia winning the SMH Good Food Guide’s 2012 Restaurant of the Year, as well as ‘Three Hats’, the highest possible ranking within the SMH’s restaurant rating system.

We elected to go for the eight-course tasting menu for $160 (about £103) which kicked off with an amuse bouche of tuna nigiri with wasabi, soy and puffed rice. The tuna, cut into small pieces and shaped into a nigiri, was beautiful and melted in the mouth. The wasabi and soy worked well with the fish, and the puff rice added a crunchy texture.

Tuna nigiri

Tuna nigiri

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The Restaurant at the 3 Weeds: The story of the girl and the 3 Weeds

Pork belly with caramelised apple and morcilla

Pork belly at The Restaurant at the 3 Weeds

In a few days I am sadly due to leave the glorious sunny and temperate Sydney shores to traverse my way over many seas back to the onset of autumn in London. Like a good movie, a splendid ending was called for. I wracked my brains, wanting a memorable story with a grand dining finale. So like a good location scout, I searched and searched and think I found the spot. It’s called The Restaurant at the 3 Weeds, and here is my story…

The story:

The story begins when, as a little six year old girl, I first registered the existence of the 3 Weeds Pub in my young consciousness. Back then, it was known as the Rose, Shamrock and Thistle, a pub situated roughly somewhere halfway between where I used to live and where I went to school. There would be many occasions when I’d walk past it, realising it was a place where those big grown ups would go to drink and be merry.

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Cupcake Bakery: Chilli chocolate cupcakes

Mini vanilla cupcakes with chocolate icing

Mini vanilla cupcakes with chocolate icing

Things have gotten desperate. I was only half an hour away from having lunch and I found myself in dire need of a cupcake. This time I decided to try The Cupcake Bakery, one half of the cupcake duopoly in Sydney’s city centre (the other half being Cupcake on Pitt). Unlike Cupcake on Pitt where there are over two dozen flavours, there are only 12 flavours on offer at The Cupcake Bakery, predominantly the perennial favourites such as vanilla on vanilla, chocolate on vanilla, chocolate on chocolate, etc. They are perhaps not as creative or as prettily decorated as the cupcakes offered at Cupcake on Pitt, but a cupcake is a cupcake after all, and I was unable to stop myself, lunch or no lunch.

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Bird Cow Fish: Call of the farmyard

Note: Sadly this restaurant closed in 2012.

Sirloin steak

Sirloin steak with garlic butter

Many moons ago I was beckoned to Bird Cow Fish on the back of some glowing reviews when it first opened in the trendy inner-city Sydney suburb of Balmain, although no doubt I’d have paid it a visit anyway on the sheer ingenuity of its name alone. For me, that particular experience was surprisingly memorable. I do not profess to be an amorous gnocchi fan, sometimes finding even superior versions to be a little starchy and heavy. So it was surprising to discover on that visit that it was the gloriousness of the gnocchi at Bird Cow Fish that wowed me, their version proving so incredibly light and delicate as to have the effect of melting in my mouth. Two and a half years ago, Bird Cow Fish relocated to a new farmyard, to another trendy inner-city suburb of Sydney, Surry Hills. Again I was beckoned, this time to see if I could recapture the taste that was.

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