I have been trying a few places over the last weeks that are OK but that didn’t generate the enthusiasm to write up. However, I thought is useful to share some thoughts:
Cafe Sydney: this sits on top of the customs house building near Circular Quay, it has fantastic views and is quite a tourist favourite. I had eaten quite a few dinners here, but these were usually team dinners from work which were OK but nothing special. However this was my fist lunch, it was more relaxed, less noisy, and the food was pretty good. I was impressed. It is quite expensive for classic mod oz food, but that said it is a good central spot for lunch as the view is outstanding. Perfect for visitors.
Number One: not far from Cafe Sydney buried under Goldfield House in possibly the least promising location for a restaurant is Tony Bilson’s French wine bar. Tony is the doyen of Sydney chefs and this is is 2nd tier restaurant. I didn’t expect much , maybe because of the location, but was very surprised. We had a very strong French bistro meal, fairly priced and very well served. I have tried lots of the “new wave” of Sydney French bistros and this is the best so far: classic French cooking by a talented kitchen.
Cafe Sopra (Walsh Bay): this is the third Cafe Sopra which is are Italian cafes within Fratelli Fresh grocery shops. The SMG GFG rates them as 15/20 and they get a hat. Now this disturbs me: how can three different restaurants all be the same quality and standard? How can they all earn a star?
We arrive just after the pre-theatre crowd depart, orders take an age to be taken as the staff are clearing up. Our entrees arrive, stuffed zucchini flowers, these are very very good and I could eat a bucket load, unfortunately our mains arrive at the same time, and then our drinks arrive a few minutes later. Very bad timing and we sent the mains away: they re-arrive the instant we finish our entrees. They had been kept warm, thus the pasta was slightly congealed, really not excusable at these prices. We sat at the bar and so the whole meal was accompanied by the cacophony of a waiter vigorously cleaning cutlery and throwing them into their trays. I know this needs to be done but why directly in front of customers and why with such disregard for the ambiance of the place? I was going to complain but there wasn’t anyone who was obviously in charge (Note: this is our third visit and we won’t rush back).
Bentley Bar & Grill: this is my second visit and the second time where I find myself wondering why it doesn’t wow me. I have eaten in lots of similar restaurants around the world and I know I like this style of food. I think the problem is the overall experience, food this serious shouldn’t be served in this space, it needs the right ambiance and attention in order to do it justice.
It is a loud busy crowded bar/restaurant, and there are no tablecloths or other such frippery. I love buzzy places like this, great to catch up with friends and enjoy a few drinks, they tend to suit simple robust foods like Tapas. But here I think Brent’s food gets lost. I enjoy the first couple of dishes but the rest gets lost in the melee of the night. I leave with a considerably lighter wallet, we chat about the evening and what our friends are up to, but don’t really talk about the food.
Wine Library: a new bar/restaurant (from the Buzo crowd) in Woollahra, one of Sydney’s more refined suburbs. It is pretty good with the focus on wine and a good selection of that (we drink a wonderful Jean Foillard, Cotes de Puy Morgon). Food is presentable, reminiscent of a good tapas bar, unfortunately it isn’t priced like a good taps bar so the cost can mount up. However, it is a great spot for a drink and nibble post Oxford Street shopping.