Posted on Monday, 27th January 2014
The Dining Room Restaurant in The Park Hyatt Hotel occupies one of the most prime positions on Sydney Harbour. It sits under the Harbour Bridge and is located directly across from the Opera House, thus offering an incredible bird’s eye view of this timeless Australian institution. The Dining Room is the Park Hyatt Hotel’s signature restaurant, one of the most luxurious 5-star hotels in Sydney. The restaurant’s decor is every bit as sumptuous as the hotel (helped in no small part by the beautiful views) and comes with a revamped menu following the recent appointment of its new Head Chef Franck Detrait who joined in October 2013. Chef Detrait has cooked in many notable restaurants in France including the one-star Michelin restaurant Vendôme in Paris where he worked closely with the highly acclaimed Jean-Francois Rouquette.
The tasting menu was great value at $95 (about £51) and was hard to pass up. But first we celebrated the beauty of Sydney Harbour with some Sydney rock oysters ($5 each – about £2.70) which were fabulously fresh. The delicious shallot vinegar dressing was also well judged for both sweetness and acidity and complemented the oysters nicely.
The first course in the tasting menu was a green pea and mint gazpacho with organic goat’s cheese. The gazpacho was great, rich with the flavour of fresh peas and fragrant from the use of mint. The cheese was good too and wonderfully tasty, but the ratio of cheese to gazpacho was quite high and less cheese and more gazpacho might have worked better.
Blue fin tuna tartar was lovely and resoundingly tasty. It was accompanied by some crunchy vegetables and a mango and passion fruit condiment which was very enjoyable as well. The condiment worked well with the tartar, but a little less of it was required as it was quite strong against the tuna.
Pan fried scallops were firm and tasty and came with a gorgeous cauliflower purée. All the other elements on the plate were well cooked and included cauliflower, some perky pomegranate for a touch of tanginess, a wonderful chicken jus and capers for a hint of acidity. The presentation was also particularly appealing.
A duck breast didn’t boast the boldest of flavours but was nevertheless pink and very tender. We liked the saltiness of the pancetta and the creaminess of the fregola accompaniments, and the tonka bean jus proved delicious and particularly complimentary with the duck.
Pasture fed beef tenderloin was the height of flavour and superbly tender. Alongside the beef were a gorgeous potato purée, thinly sliced potato crisps that were scrumptious, and a decadently delicious truffle jus which rounded off this gorgeous plate of food nicely.
We elected to go for two desserts from the a la carte menu instead of the dessert offered in the tasting menu. First was an accomplished lemon tart topped with Italian meringue and served with a lemon sorbet which sang with citrusy overtones. The dessert was technically sound with a pastry that was thin and crispy, and a merginue that was light and airy. The lemon filling was zingy and creamy but also a touch too sweet.
A lamington cake is a traditionally Australian cake made with a vanilla sponge coated first in a layer of chocolate and then in desiccated coconut. Here the lamington had been deconstructed and consisted of a chocolate sponge (which was a little too dense), a layer of caramel and a coconut cream topping. I adored this version of the lamington for it resembled the traditional lamington in flavour in every possible way. It was so cleverly done! But the dessert also featured a white chocolate and malibu ice cream which wasn’t to my taste.
The food was gorgeous. Contemporary and modern, it showcased wonderful Australian ingredients cooked with French flair. The sumptuous setting of the restaurant with views looking over Sydney Harbour also served to complete this wonderful dining experience. The service was stellar and accommodative as well, and best of all, the tasting menu was incredible value, especially given the high standard of the cooking.
Food rating: 4.5/5
Service rating: 4/5
Prices: 3 courses from the à la carte menu – $73 to $125 (about £39 to £70)
The tasting menu is $95, and with matching wines, $145 (about £51 to £78)