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“Fabulous food and a breathtaking setting”
Review of Quay Restaurant

Quay Restaurant
Ranked #59 of 6,392 Restaurants in Sydney
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $25 - $100
Cuisines: Australian, Contemporary, Fusion
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Special occasions, Romantic
Dining options: Late Night, Lunch, Breakfast, Dinner, Delivery, Reservations
Neighborhood: The Rocks
Reviewed March 13, 2013

Dressed casually for our long-awaited meal at Australia's top restaurant, we had a few apprehensive minutes as we followed 2 couples from our hotel to the same venue who were dressed in tuxedos and ball gowns. Fortunately, it turned out that there was a works outing at one end of the restaurant (lucky, lucky people to have to come here on business) and everyone else was, like us, dressing down.

A slow start from the sommelier was the only hint of anything less than perfection throughout an evening of fantastic, creative cooking. Even the hideous cruise liner which had dominated the view from our hotel room miraculously moved off from the quayside as we perused our menus.* From our table we could then view in one direction the Sydney Opera House and in the other the Sydney Harbour Bridge. As darkness descended and the lights came on the setting was magical - probably the most beautiful location anywhere in the world for a city restaurant.

There are 2 ways to go at Quay, 4 courses from the a la carte menu or 8 in the tasting menu and both of them are unbelievably expensive. Since 2 of the 8 featured beetroot and squid, which are not to my wife's taste, we opted on this occasion for the a la carte. Taking a deep breath we also entrusted wine selections by the glass to the sommelier who finally arrived at our table just as the first courses were served; we were not disappointed by anything he suggested, a Tapanappa Pinot Noir and a Thick as Thieves Nebbiolo proving especially memorable. A glass of Bollinger champagne was the ideal accompaniment for an amuse bouche of creamy goat cheese, capers, tomato and dried fennel in a shot glass; its subtle flavour confirmed that we could expect some wonderful food.

Until the dessert stage I made the better choices, starting with a congee of Northern Australian mud crab with fresh palm heart and egg yolk emulsion, while my wife chose the native freshwater marron having discovered that this was the local name for a crayfish rather than a very expensive water chestnut. Her dish looked the prettier, 3 delicate pieces of tail meat dressed with rose hip, radish, creme fraiche, woodland sorrel and pomegranate seeds but mine had a depth of flavour that said loudly and clearly there was real talent at work in the kitchen.

We both chose the quail breast for our second course which was a riot of contrasting textures and tastes. There was hazelnut in evidence, quinoa, faro and many more things besides, served alongside a steamed truffle brioche with egg yolk confit and Vin Jaune cream. Our final savoury course saw my wife opt for a really delicate Suffolk lamb loin dish, embellished with eggplant skin and olive puree, sheep's milk creme fraiche, fresh and preserved flowers, while I was treated to what I think is the finest pork dish I've ever eaten. Described as Berkshire pig jowl, it was a small square of porcine perfection, with a maltose crackling which was both crisped to perfection and yet cut as soft as butter. Accompanied by prunes and cauliflower puree and perfumed with prune kernel oil it was, like the two preceding courses, 'lick the plate clean' food.

At the dessert stage we had pre-selected the two celebrated dishes I'd read about on various Australian food blogs, the cherry and coconut snow egg and Quay's 8 texture chocolate cake, and agreed to argue later about who would get which. Only when the wine pairings were revealed did my wife choose the former (accompanied by a glass of a frizzante rose Bugey Cerdon) while I got the latter with a glass of S'Naranja, Pedro Ximenez infused with orange. To be honest, while I loved the chocolate dish it didn't stand out in the way my 3 previous courses had: the 8th 'texture' was, very theatrically, poured over in the form of a liquid which drilled a neat hole in the centre of the dish but I would have been hard-pressed to identify more than a couple of others. The snow egg by comparison was both a work of art and delicious eating.

The evening flew by, service was exemplary and unnecessary apologies were offered for some problems with the lighting. This was one of the finest meals we've eaten anywhere and we would book again without hesitation on any future trips to Sydney, having first consulted the shipping timetables of course.

* Actually not a coincidence. Booking several months earlier from the UK, we were grateful for the advice of Elise, on reservations, that this would be the only night of the week free from these eyesores. During the summer months you need to know that this problem exists and is out of the restaurant's control. Given their name and the fantastic location when there are no boats around, it would be hard to relocate from the quayside but it is seriously off-putting and clearly bad for business.

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Thank LaDolceVita27
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 9, 2013

The service was absolutely disgusting. We felt rushed and ignored. The meals were thrown onto our table by waiters on their way to somewhere else, our entree arrived with our starter. Desserts took a while and coffee didn't arrive until fifteen minutes after we finished the dessert. The main waiter for our section was abnoxious and pre occupied. He was rude and disorganised. At the end of the evening he started making racist comments and engaged in an offensive racially motived discussion with tables around us. The main disappointment was, the food was great - how unfortunate the wait staff let down the entire experience. Will not go back. How they received the 2013 restaurant of the year award, I will never know!

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1  Thank KNoah
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 8, 2013

We went to Quay for a 40th birthday dinner. We had to book 6 months in advance and could still only get a Friday night. Testament to the restaurant's popularity. It's reputation for fine dining is well deserved. We all had the degustation with matching wines, all of which were simply outstanding. The snow egg finale lived up to it's well deserved reputation. The premium wines were all well matched to the food courses. The wait staff were friendly, attentive without being too "in your face". The addition of a cruise ship leaving and another arriving added something to the night. All in all, just a fabulous experience but be warned: a dinner for 4 people can run to a significant sum, in keeping with all top class restaurants.

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Thank DavidUral
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 7, 2013

We had a three course meal and it was outstanding.
Magestic view of the Harbour Bridge, thankfully not the Cruise Liner on the opposite side of the restaurant.
Wonderful service, great sommelier - Tamara knew her Australian wines well
To start:
Kathy enjoyed: Smoked and confit pig cheek,
shiitake, shaved scallops, Jerusalem artichoke leaves was fantastic - very different an excellent choice
Bill enjoyed: Native freshwater marron,
rosehips, radish, crème fraîche,
woodland sorrel, pomegranate seeds - delicate flavours
The main:
Bill enjoyedd: Roasted snapper,
Japanese white turnips, barletta onions, sauce made from the roe - very nicely done
Kathy enjoyed: Suffolk lamb loin,
eggplant skin and olive purée, sheeps milk crème fraîche,
fresh and preserved flowers - a lamb lovers delight
And for dessert:
Kathy:Jersey cream, salted caramel, prunes, walnuts, ethereal sheets - this was so delicate and really outstanding
Bill:Quay's
Eight texture chocolate cake - excellent but a touch behind Kathy's choice

Beautiful dining experience, a bit expensive but a totally wonderful experience.

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Thank Bill T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 5, 2013

The restaurant was hailed as being one of the best in Australia and, for the most part, did not disappoint.

Food: Being lovers of fine dining, we like to visit restaurants of this standard around the world. We accordingly had the 8 course tasting menu; the food was all beautifully presented and rivalled its Michelin-starred counterparts in the Northern Hemisphere. Most of the courses included local produce, which gave a great Australian feel. The portions were well decided and we had trouble deciding which course was our favourite.
A wine match is available, which we did not take because of an early flight the next day. On reflection, we are very pleased that we did not as we really were very full by the end of the meal and this was only with two G&Ts.

Service: The service was highly efficient, although we had a range of waiters/waitresses throughout the course of the evening, which took away a little of the intimacy. We were initially seated at a table with a limited view, and as we were on our Honeymoon, we asked if it were possible to be moved to a table with a better view. The staff were very understanding and this was arranged later in the evening, and we were not disappointed!

Location: If you get a table with a view, the view is as good as the food. Ask if possible to be seated in the "tower", which has the panoramic view of both the opera house and the harbour bridge.Be prepared to book several months in advance, even for a week night as they are always full to capacity.

Only flaws:
1. We would like to have been served continuously by the same person.
2. We were quite unimpressed with the bathrooms, which for the price of the evening definitely should have been in better condition.
3. The lift to the restaurant was out of order, and the sign saying something to the effect of "Take the stairs" wasn't particularly helpful to people who do not know the area. This meant we wasted some time finding the entrance.

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Thank LegallyB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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