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Doyles Worth a Visit?

Wirral
posts: 36
Doyles Worth a Visit?

Visiting Sydney next month and thinking of having lunch at Doyles

Watsons Bay

1. Is it worth a visit?

2. Can we get a boat there from Darling Harbour or Circular Quay?

Many thanks

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Business Travel, New South Wales
posts: 26,470
reviews: 575
1. Re: Doyles Worth a Visit?

Hi,

Absolutely worth taking the ferry over from Circular Quay to Watsons bay for lunch at Doyles or the Watson bay Hotel.

sydneyferries.info/timetables/watsons-bay.htm

www.watsonsbayhotel.com.au/

www.doyles.com.au

Sydney Australia
posts: 6,576
reviews: 59
2. Re: Doyles Worth a Visit?

yes, Watson's Bay is a lovely spot. Most definitely worth a visit.

South Pole
posts: 15,408
reviews: 39
3. Re: Doyles Worth a Visit?

over priced fish and chips and bad service. a tourist trap. by all means take the ferry over but eat at the pub if u must eat in that area.

Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Ko Phi Phi Don
posts: 1,899
reviews: 73
4. Re: Doyles Worth a Visit?

Hey,

We went to Doyles in November, I was a little hesitant as it does cop a bad wrap but I have to say I loved it, we sat at a table out side on the beach and had a view up the harbour to Sydney, it was stunning.

Our food was lovely, hubby had a seafood tasting plate and I had a prawn pasta - it was really really good!

Maybe we were lucky, maybe we are not that good at judging seafood but no complaints from me at all!

And I found the staff to be really pleasant.

Sydney, Australia
posts: 570
reviews: 6
5. Re: Doyles Worth a Visit?

The ferry to Watsons Bay goes from Circular Quay only.

sydneyferries.info/uploads/images/content/ti…

Just be careful of the timetable, the last ferry on weekdays departs at 3:50pm from Watsons Bay (7:10pm on weekends). There are frequent buses back to the city if you miss this, though (though not as exciting).

Sydney, Australia
posts: 2,573
reviews: 26
6. Re: Doyles Worth a Visit?

If you're there on a sunny Sydney day, with a table on the edge of the sand & looking down the harbour & enjoying the experience for what it is, it's magic. Similarly, on a balmy night, watching the sunset. Twinkling lights, tinkling glasses, a cool white, smooth red or frosty ale ... difficult to better.

However: In my opinion (and I was there for dinner 2 weeks ago with someone who also travels & eats extensively around the world), the interiors are tired and the food could be better. Or priced according to its standard. We may have chosen poorly - you may make your own judgement on that. We'll get to it.

First though, full marks to the staff. When booking, I'd asked for a window table as I had an International visitor coming and wanted to show off the harbour. As rain was predicted, we decided an inside table would be best. It was a particularly windy & quite cold evening and when we arrived, the floor manager gave us an excellent table, explaining that the verandah blinds were apt to let wind in, so the inner room would be better - and a large party had booked there & she thought we would be happier inside.

We were eating very early in hopes of seeing the sunset, so the restaurant was pretty quiet for the first hour or two.

Drinks ordered, we perused the menu and decided the night called for Doyles Seafood Chowder (with prawns, Blue Swimmer Crab, Mussels, Calamari and local fish) & nicely priced at $18.50. Unfortunately, they only do it it with a tomato base and we'd had our hearts set on the white wine version - so back to the menu.

We'd both been out to lunch, so we decided on just one course (or perhaps two if something sweet or a cheese tempted us later).

I had the Tweed Heads Sand Whiting Fillets, in beer batter with chips ($41.50 for main /entree size) and my companion the Bass Strait Tasmanian Scallops (Grilled with corn & tomato salsa and Victorian feta) ($20.50).

The 3 pieces of whiting sat atop a huge mound of chips, accompanied by quite a good sauce tartare and were ok. Borderline overcooked - I would have liked them a little more moist, but they squeeked in at 5/10 on my rating. Probably at around $20-$25. At $41.50, I would have liked more fish, fewer chips, perhaps some salad & the fish would have been perfectly cooked. And frankly, a little more sophistication in the presentation. This was exactly what everyone's local fish & chip shop delivers - a pile of chips that would feed a small Pacific nation with 3 pieces of fish plonked on top.

The scallops (5 in the entree (appetizer for the Americans) size) were not the luscious,plump & luminous pillows we expected; they were greyish, overcooked little disappointments in what would have been an adventurous combination if it had been well executed. It wasn't. The dressing was actually quite nice, but the corn had no place on the plate. This dish wasn't good enough at all, which was what I quietly told the waiter when he enquired as to how we were enjoying our meal.

Good staff again: The waiter agreed, apologised & immediately asked whether my companion would like something else instead & when that was politely declined, apologised again and said he would advise the chef.

We continued chatting, enjoying the excellent Petaluma Riesling (Clare Valley, SA - $57) and watching other diners' meals arriving.

Next to us, a couple shared what was most probably the Cold Seafood Platter (whole lobster, blue swimmer crab, fresh prawns, mussels, smoked salmon, fresh oysters) - quite well priced at $145 if it was as good as it should be.

What we saw being delivered around us appeared to be what you would expect in an unpretentious seafood restaurant. My disappointment is with the execution of the two dishes we had; the chowder being limited to a tomato base, when the white wine variety is universally popular - and I think the prices are a little on the high side for what we had. That said; the location is spectacular, and on this night the staff could not be faulted. Actually, the pricing on the scallops is fine - I don't expect to pay under $20 for an entree in this location.

We had a pleasant surprise when the waiter brought the bill. Very unobtrusively, he said the chef apologised again for the scallops and had removed them from our bill. My companion had eaten them; we neither asked nor expected not to pay for them - and were impressed both with the response and gracious manner of it.

My "Sydney standard tour" with friends & visitors takes the ferry to Watsons Bay, where we have lunch next door to Doyles at the upstairs terrace of the Watsons Bay Hotel. More casual than Doyles & different thing altogether. Then we take the bus to Bondi, walk to Bronte around the cliffs & take another bus back to the city.

I wouldn't say, "Don't go to Doyles" - but what I will say is that this is not a fine dining restaurant (nor does it pretend to be) and in at least some of the dishes, there is a disconnect between execution & expectation, given the pricing. If you go with the expectation of having a lovely relaxed lunch in a stunning location with some seafood (or something else on the menu) and realize you're primarily paying for the experience and if the food is absolutely wonderful, it's a bonus - you'll have a great time.

Helensburgh, United...
posts: 938
reviews: 73
7. Re: Doyles Worth a Visit?

Bokhara,

Thanks for a very fair and balanced assessment of this restaurant. My wife and I booked a trip to Australia and New Zealand and Doyles has been very highly recommended for our Sydney part of the holiday. Although a Scotsman, I really don't mind paying top dollar if I'm receiving top quality food and service. You've made me think again about Doyles.

Wirral
posts: 36
8. Re: Doyles Worth a Visit?

Bokhara

Many thanks for the detailed review of your recent visit to Doyles.

Your comments have certainly given us 'food for thought' !

Maybe we will take up your suggestion of eating at the hotel next door.

We are planning a lunch time visit on a Friday or Saturday. Is it advisable to make a booking or can you just turn up?

Sydney, Australia
posts: 2,573
reviews: 26
9. Re: Doyles Worth a Visit?

Book if you're going to Doyles on the Beach and ask for a table either at the front of the balcony upstairs, or downstairs near the sand, depending on the weather.

The hotel next door is much more casual, with a briefer menu and I'm not sure whether they take bookings. Worth asking. Can be pretty busy on weekends, but we've always managed to find a table.

watsonsbayhotel.com.au/8048650/watsons-bay-h…

You could always book a table at Doyles on the Beach, have a look at the Watsons Bay hotel and, if you're happy with the menu & set up there, just call Doyles & cancel. I know it's a bit cheeky - but gives you a 2nd option if you do decide you'd like to try Doyles when you get there.

Lovedale, Australia
posts: 120
10. Re: Doyles Worth a Visit?

Great location, shame about the food.

Totally agree with post 3

<over priced fish and chips and bad service. a tourist trap>

I don't think this is just sour grapes because I was seated by the kitchen's swinging door?

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