Monthly Archives: November 2012

Fine dining, with a touch of theatre – QT Sydney’s Gowings Bar and Grill

Whatever your memories of the Gowings building, the latest incarnation of Sydney’s historical department store will blow your mind. Somehow, the old and new worlds collide in a moodily lit art deco dreamscape now home to the boutique hotel QT Sydney.

The first floor of QT is pocketed with intimate lounge areas decked out with mod-Italian furniture and backlit by vintage films of D-Day parades but the second floor is where the magic happens. Follow the neon-lit Broadway sign and head upstairs to Gowings Bar & Grill where you’ll be immediately reassured that, while the wait staff are dressed to the nines, their ethos is good, old-fashioned service.

The vibrant design of QT

We start with a basket of fresh artisan bread rolls (on the house), hand dived wild scallops with garlic basil butter and a delightfully zesty detox organic vegetable salad. The menu is broad and driven by the wood-fired oven; selecting just one main each is a challenge. The quail is surprisingly meaty, and the smoked ham and pea stuffing provides layers of homely flavour. The beef bourguignon falls apart at the slightest touch and its sauce is rich and creamy. The men of the table unsurprisingly both settle on rib eye Black Angus steaks, with sides of shoestring fries and Paris mash. Always brutally honest, when I ask for their expert carnivorous verdict – neither look up from their plates – “really, really good” was all I get out of them before their dishes are scraped clean. For dessert, the hot German doughnuts sound too irresistible to leave and our decision pays off – the dough is as light as a feather and sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg sugar.
A trip to Gowings is something of an adventure. While the journey no longer ends with a new suit or a rucksack of camping gear, visitors in the 21st century are rewarded with an elegant dinner and a show (of class). Each nook and cranny here tells a story. We recommend you come with plenty of spare time to explore its hidden treasures.

Elizabeth Fenech

Read more about QT Sydney’s Gowings Bar and Grill here

Leave a comment

Filed under QT Sydney's Gowings Bar and Grill, Reviews, Sydney CBD

AQUA/ HTN’S Young Culinary Achiever Scholarship for work experience at London’s Ledbury with Brett Graham

It was with much excitement that I received the news of the 2012 Young Culinary Achiever Scholarship. Fuji Taukatelata was the winner of this prestigious scholarship that recognises young culinary students with a commitment and passion to excel in the hospitality industry.

The hospitality industry is a tough business to be in, especially for the younger generation trying to make a break. Opportunities such as this Young Culinary Achiever Scholarship, established by HTN and Aqua Dining Group principal Bill Drakopoulos — are invaluable for the future of our industry and we are indebted to those who invest their time and energy in these programs.

Aqua Dining Group principal Bill Drakopoulos with Lyndey Milan, Fuiji, Simon Thomsen and Kurt Van Buren

Judges Lyndey Milan, Simon Thomsen and Kurt Van Buren were unanimous in their decision to award Fuji the coveted prize of work experience in London with renowned Australian chef Brett Graham at his 2 star Michelin restaurant Ledbury, $1,000 spending money, airfares and accommodation.

“Fuji’s dish showed a variety of skills – a lot of dexterity to bone her Quail Galantine dish and managing to keep the quail moist, as well as a well developed philosophy of what food is all about” said Lyndey Milan.

The Awards were held at a sumptuous dinner at Aqua Dining with the popular broadcaster Jonathan Coleman as MC, to a packed house of sponsors, families, friends and chefs with whom the contestants work.  The two runners up were Kyiah Jones from Garfish in Manly, and Tommy Ly from the CBD’s Ash Cellars.  The trio each created starter dishes in a 5 course degustation dinner.

Winner Fuji Taukatelata with runners up Kyiah Jones (Garfish, Manly), and Tommy Ly (Ash Cellars, CBD).

Fuji works at Campbelltown Golf Club and studied at TAFE Ultimo. Her achievements include Taste of Success Graduate/Scholarship winner 2012.  She is the present Ambassador of HTN, and the Face of Ultimo TAFE.

“I owe my Mum a lot” said Fuji .This fabulous prize will benefit me and also my family, employers past and present who have shaped me into the chef I am today.  Work experience with Brett Thomas will help me further develop my skills in this fast paced, spontaneous and rewarding industry.”

Maureen de Groot

Leave a comment

Filed under Events

The essence of the Melbourne Marriott

With stunning floor-to-ceiling windows, Essence Restaurant at the Melbourne Marriott Hotel capitalises on its central corner location offering sensational street-views to diners. In keeping with its aim to impress, the restaurant’s design boasts a contemporary flair – decorated in hues of chocolate and finished with comfy suede-back chairs and banquettes.

Essence boasts a prime CBD location

Chef Clinton Jackson, formally of the Surfers Paradise Marriott, heads the kitchen at Essence, offering a succinct menu studded with the restaurant’s signature dishes. A roasted beetroot salad, plated with walnuts, caramelised shallots, fetta cheese and a honey-thyme vinaigrette is tangy and flavourful, while a seafood stack for two comes highly recommended, displaying both hot and cold servings of Western Australian prawns, steamed New Zealand mussels, freshly shucked oysters, blue swimmer crab, Tasmanian salmon and salt and pepper calamari. Steaks are sourced from local Victorian farms and are served in a delicate pepper rub with perfectly cut chips on the side. The crispy-skin salmon, said to be Essence’s star dish, impresses with its sweet manuka honey soy dressing, crunchy asparagus and kipfler potatoes. The wine list features a good selection of wines by the glass, with a focus on Victorian and Western Australian varieties, while a range of premium champagnes and Australian sparkling are available for celebrating.

Steaks are sourced from local Victorian farms

Desserts are a highlight at Essence and its hot chocolate fondant served with an orange salad and sorbet certainly makes a mark in any foodie’s culinary conscience. This dish has been a firm favourite at Essence since and after just one mouthful, it is easy to understand why. If diners are rushing to get to a show, a theatre menu is also available in two- or three-course express options, while sharp service ensures that your opening curtain will not be missed.

Aphrodite Vlahos

Read more about Essence Restaurant here

Leave a comment

Filed under Essence Restaurant, Melbourne CBD, Reviews

Regional research – Best Restaurants does Tassie

Our tourism content manager Kim Attwells took off to beautiful Tassie last week to call on some of our clients and check out the burgeoning food and wine scene. Tasmania has been getting huge traffic from all over the world so we thought it was time to take a break from our busy Sydney life and to discover why our viewers were so drawn to this unique part of Australia.

We hope Kim doesn’t get too comfy in her little cottage at Piermont – she looks very at home!

From the pics alone, you can understand why Tasmania is the perfect getaway with its amazing food and wine, stunning landscapes, luxurious resort spas and rich sandstone buildings all over the island. But just wait until you get there. Kim said there were many highlights but a few memorable occasions include the drive up the Tamar to Pipers Brook (like driving along the Rhine in Europe), lunch at Stillwater in Launceston and also Meadowbank Winery in Hobart.

Stillwater’s assiette of Belgian chocolate. Blink Photography

Accommodation-wise, Kim highly recommends staying at either Peppers Launceston or Henry Jones in Hobart. But the one place that Kim can’t stop talking about is Villa Howden – just 15 minutes from Hobart, on the edge of the Huon Valley, you will feel that you are in a villa in the south of France. So make sure you book a night.

Villa Howden. Ralph Alphonso

Another highlight was the boat trip from Hobart on Peppermint Bay’s luxurious 23 metre catamaran, called Peppermint Bay II. The cruise takes in the harbour, the River Derwent and the magnificent waters of the d’Entrecasteaux Channel, on its way to Peppermint Bay where you have a fabulous shared plate lunch before returning to Hobart by boat.

Maureen de Groot

Leave a comment

Filed under Events, Travel

A matter of taste… Bayswater Diner

Sloppy joes, hickory smoked pork ribs and shrimp gumbo. It’s the cool thing right now. American diner food, that is. And while Bayswater Road may be haunted by a dark past of failed restaurants, the team behind Fei Jai and Barrio Chino are breathing new life into Kings Cross with their latest venture – Bayswater Diner.

For Americans, the diner concept is as familiar as malted milkshake and pecan pie. In Australia, however, the Jerk-chicken-wing concept is somewhat foreign.  Perhaps this is why owners Peter Lew and Nicole Galloway have held back with their disappointingly conservative reincarnation of a classic American diner? There are the token white paper placemats, plastic bottles of ketchup and mustard and leather booth seating but there is something missing. Maybe it’s just too elegant to be the real deal?

Beef Short Ribs with grilled corn, potato salad and slaw $28

The menu, on the other hand, features all your favourites with cheeseburgers, corn dogs and cobb salads dominating. A clumsy dish of beef short ribs is served with grilled corn that is simply begging for a dollop of mayonnaise, a sprinkling of parmesan and a dusting of chilli. I mean, really – if you wanted to be healthy – you would have ordered the pan fried barramundi, not ribs. While on the barramundi-topic, the skin is crisp and the flesh is moist. Not only aesthetically beautiful, the fish is served with salsa crudo and steamed broccolini – both of which work well together. The haagie roll beef brisket sloppy joe gives Bayswater Diner street-food-cred however it is the pecan pie served with Jack Daniels cream that is a taste of the true America. For those not convinced by the diner-effect, there are plenty of non-grease options such as heirloom tomato salad with house smoked goat’s curd and house made pasta with ricotta and basil.

Bayswater Diner will happily satisfy, just as long as you have a wallet that can cope with a little beating.

Anna Lisle

Read more about Bayswater Diner here

Leave a comment

Filed under Bayswater Diner, Kings Cross, Reviews