The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Amazing seafood @ Cafe Sydney, Sydney

During our trip to Sydney, in addition to staying a couple of night's at my sister's house in the eastern suburbs, our little family also stayed a couple of nights in an apartment in the city. One of the things hubby and I did was to have another lunch date to make up for missing our monthly dates for the previous couple of months due to all the travelling we've been doing lately. I made reservations at Cafe Sydney purely based on its #1 position for restaurants in Sydney on at the time I was doing my research. Their online menu looked pretty good with an emphasis on seafood, which met our pre-approval.

The historical Customs House:

Cafe Sydney is located in the architecturally interesting Customs House in Circular Quay, and its rooftop location provides gorgeous views of the harbour while enjoying our meal. Usually when the main draw of a restaurant is the fantastic view, the food usually takes a backseat and is mediocre at best (in my experience anyway). However I'm happy to say that at Cafe Sydney, we were satisfied with the quality of our food. The interior had clean modern lines, and the fairly large space means that the restaurant can accommodate large groups without cramping the intimate diners. Service was courteous and timely even though the dining area was full that Friday afternoon; I was pleased to see that the restaurant was adequately staffed.

The view of the harbour from our table (click image for larger view):

There was a nice range of food on the menu, that we had a little trouble deciding on what to order. After confirming with our waiter that the Seafood Platter served two people, we decided to have the platter with some Onion Naan and a side of Sauteed Greens (green beans and broccoli). The naan and greens were pretty tasty, but they were completely overshadowed by the platter of cold seafood when it took centre stage position on our table.

The onion naan. (No photo of the plate of greens because I was too busy admiring the seafood platter when the vegetables arrived):

Beautiful au naturale oysters (both Pacific Oyster and Sydney Rock Oysters) and a variety of crustaceans including Moreton Bay bugs, marron, scampi, crab and huge prawns served quite simply on ice. It's refreshing to have seafood given the treatment it deserves, not battered and deep-fried beyond greasy recognition as is common practice in this land down under. And of course, it is of prime importance to have superb quality seafood in order to enjoy it like so, and these ones were nothing short of excellent. Four types of sauces/dips were provided on the platter, but we relished most of the seafood without touching the sauces at all. By the way, although it's usual for me not to use sauces and dressings (I like to eat my sushi and sashimi without soy sauce), hubby is usually quite liberal with them, so it says a lot about the food when he is happy to go sans sauces. Definitely not something to order on a first date or business lunch because you will get your hands messy, but the mess was so worth it.

The Seafood Platter, complete with the necessary tools to undertake the task of shelling; and closer view of the top tier:

The scampi deserves a special mention because it is quite possibly our favourite seafood (scallop was hubby's, and au naturale oysters mine, until now). The flesh was more tender and succulent than lobster, and it bore a certain sweetness that distinguished itself from crab and prawn. Even the guts were sweet and had no hint of bitterness that usually comes from eating the guts (yes, call me strange but I love to eat the prawn "brains" and fish heads). Our first experience with scampi was at Robuchon in Hong Kong, but it was good to taste its flesh without any special treatment and sauce.

The bottom tier of the seafood platter:

I was stuffed to the brim after successfully tackling the seafood, but amazingly hubby still had room for dessert, so he ordered a Chocolate Pave. This was a rich dessert with a fudgy base and a rich ganache mid-section and topped chocolate cookie crumbs and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Beautiful presentation, and definitely something for chocolate lovers, but it was a pretty tiny serving, especially for the price.

Chocolatey goodness:

This was a really nice dining experience, and I can see why Cafe Sydney is so popular. The view was great, the service was good, the food was delicious, and of course the company was wonderful. Special thanks to my younger sister who babysat our boy.

Cafe Sydney on Urbanspoon

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