Restaurants & Bars 4

Sydney - two harbourside, two oceanside

peter hall | Dec 9, 200407:47 PM

Just visiting Sydney and I wanted to draw attention to some restaurants.

SEAN'S PANAROMA (Campbell Parade, Bondi, chef Sean Moran) ranks with Arpege as the best restaurant I have visited this year. But where Arpege is elegant and refined Sean's is funky and robust. The food is delicious, ambitious home cooking and the staff and atmoshere warm and friendly. Last week I visited with three other chaps and we ordered 7 entrees, 4 mains and everything on the dessert menu, so seductive is the food (and greedy the guests!). Last night I dined with a girlfriend and she had yabbie salad (shelled yabbies, iceberg lettuce, avocado, mayonnaise, tomato relish) while I had lightly-battered deep fried shrimp and aioli - both were exquisite. For mains I had roast chicken on a bed of creamed corn, bok choy, a long crunchy half of roast potato and gravy. Her barramundi was excellent. Delicious and deeply satisfying, particularly when accompanied by a nice Marlborough sauvignon blanc! Dessert was a trio of tropical fruit sorbets - mango & lime, pinapple & passionfruit and soursop (which is a bit like custrad apple) - clean, refreshing and delightful.

PIER (New South Head Road, Rose Bay, chef Greg Doyle) may be the world's second best seafood restaurant (the best is a little booth in Anselmo near Puerto Montt in Chile). Situated within a 1930s pier the modern elegant dining room juts out into Rose Bay so views and ambience are superb. We had cocktails on the balcony outside and in the morning there is a superb little cafe downstairs which allows you to have a coffee on the jetty (order a "flat white") while you watch the pelicans swoop by and dangle your feet above the sea.

The Pier offers fresh seafood with the provenance of each item detailed on a sheet accompanying the menu. Last time I was there I had a half dozen oysters followed by raw fish comprising four fish prepared in various Asian/Australian sauces - ginger, soy etc. Both dishes were exquisite. Then a crab omelette with bok choy followed by a very delicious and evil parfait. Staff were professional, warm and friendly. Highly recommended.

BATHER's PAVILLION (The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach, chef Serge Dansereau (Canadian not French)) is pathetic. No, even worse - a betrayal. It has the most wonderful location and ambience sitting by one of Sydney's most beautiful beaches but I have had better food on airlines. The ingredients are good but the food is free of character and fussy and tricksy. It seems that the focus is on presentation rather than flavour. Service is hurried and uncaring. A big machine run to make money rather provide good food.

MOORISH (Ramsgate Avenue, North Bondi) Another restaurant with a great location and rotten food. Sitting above the beach at Bondi this serves Morroccan style food mostly. I had a splendid Mojito (rhubarb and spearmint), a charred-on-the-outside, raw-on-the-inside steak with houmous which was awful and then a delicious chocolate and date cake with icecream. Elements are good but service is hurried and the overall effect is too patchy.

Sydney has some of the best restaurant's in the world operating in a fiercely competitive environment. Some of the chefs are idealistic, ambitious and brilliantly talented but others are amateurs or cold-blooded exploiters. On the whole service is excellent with Australian warmth and humour more than making up for any lapses of professionalism.

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