Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cafe Sydney - Circular Quay

To celebrate our 8 year anniversary, my partner and I decided to dine at Cafe Sydney - a restaurant we've been attempting to try for over 5 years now. Why? Boils down to our laziness to book and the impossibilitiness of dining at this place without a book. So yes - after the much anticipated wait, our expectations of this restaurant was probably quite high. But on our way to the restaurant, both my partner and I had decided to talk it down - if it's better than Bilson's, it's probably OK.

So we arrived for our 8.30pm booking (after a super hectic day at work for both of us). We were tired, we were hungry - we just wanted to eat eat eat! Unfortunately, our table was not ready yet. As such, we were escorted to the bar area where we had our own sofa space. We ordered a couple of drinks as we proceded to wind down. My partner got a beer, I ordered the Guava Polava ($11). This was a refreshingly sweet and fruity mocktail of guava nectar and mango puree. It was actually really yummy. Very mangoey and icey - just the way I like it!

Guava Polava - $11

When we finally got seated at our table (at 9pm), we were met with a a friendly bubbly waiter, a fantastic view of the harbour bridge and delicious aromas stemming from food from tables around us.

Choices of entrees and mains abounded, making our decision-making process quite tough. But we plowed through and persevered.

We ordered a garlic naan ($2.50) as opposed to traditional bread rolls. The garlic naan came our fresh and warm. Smelt fantastically aromatic and was light, very slightly oily, and subtly garlicy. It was quite appetising indeed.

garlic naan - $2.50

We also decided on an entree to share. We chose the grilled scallops ($27). Three big ish plump scallops came topped with rolled white anchovy. Accompanying it was shaved fennel, cabbage and 2 ruby grapefruit pieces. There was also small clumps of pine nuts and a smooth creamy pile of white sauce. Fortunately, the scallops were nicely grilled and not over cooked. The shaved fennel and cabbage salad was fresh, but the grapefruit pieces were slightly too juicy to be complimentary. The pinenut clumps were absolutely gorgeous. However, the same could not be said about the white anchovy. The anchovy was super strong and super salty and super overpowering. Eating the anchovy with the scallop meant that you absolutely cannot taste the scallop - anchovy only. It's amazing how such a small clump of fish can be so dense and strong.

Scallops - $27

In terms of mains, my partner opted for the pork belly ($38) under the strong recommendation by the waiter. The pork belly was twice cooked, with a nice rod of pork crackling, and accompanied with caramelised pear, speck, pistacio and jus. The waiter described the meat as "melt in your mouth" goodness - and melt-in-your-mouth goodness was how this meat was. It was very flavoursome, sooooo tender, and a good mix of meat and fat. The crunchiness of pork crackling was demonstrated by the huge cutting and crunching noises made by my partner. According to him, this dish was good - but not awesomely WOW.

Pork Belly - $38

I opted for a 'food addition' special of the night. The john dory ($42) came with black-coloured squid and prawn ravioli and small cubes of zucchini and chorizo. The john dory fillet was nice and tender. The skin was unfortunately not crisp and overall, the fish was slightly too salty. The ravioli pasta shell was a bit too thick and chewy - slightly too little squid and prawn mix for the thick pasta shell - the proportion was not quite right. In terms of the zucchini and chorizo cubes, they were pretty average. No complaints. The bisque sauce it came with was also OK.

John Dory - $42

In terms of sides, we ordered the mashed potato ($8) and the rocket and parmesan salad ($8.50). The mashed potato was very average. Not creamy enough and not fluffy enough - slightly too dense. Tasted also slightly like my packet deb mash (which I actually love). It just wasn't as awesome as mash ought to be at restaurants. The rocket and parmesan salad, on the other hand, was really pretty good. The rocket was fresh. There was a good amount of balsamic vinegar, and the parmesan cheese was pretty greatly complementary to the rocket.

mashed potato - $8

rocket and parmesan salad - $8.50

After all this food, my partner and I were both stuffed. We eyed the dessert menu and eyed the time and decided against getting dessert. Not that it wouldn't have been good- but nothing popped out as awesome 'eat me now!' dessert.

Overall, the food was not bad. The ambiance was absolutely wonderful, dim-litted, romantic and with a fantastic view. The service here wasn't the most attentive, but he was definately cheerful and friendly enough. I believe we had a good time and a decent meal to celebrate our 8 years of being together :)

Food - 7.5/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 9.5/10
Value for money - 8/10
Overall - 33/40

Cafe Sydney
Customs House 5th Floor
31 Alfred Street
Circular Quay
NSW 2000
tel: (02) 9251 8683


chocolatesuze said...

happy anniversary dude!

bbsnoopy said...

thank you~ :)
how is married life treating you?

Anonymous said...

Very interesting and honest review. Thanks. Typo "Dim-litted" -> "dimly-lit".

Therese said...

great review, thanks; your Selah review as good too, especially as I was tossing up between going to Cafe Sydney or Selah for a pre-theatre dinner.

Ended up deciding on Selah as I'll save Cafe Sydney for a special occasion!