Tag Archives: Waterside dining

It’s the Côte d’Azur of Australia, Watsons Bay Beach Club

Tourist hotspots don’t generally appeal to locals. It’s something about those piercing American accents, bum bags and over-sized, under-used professional cameras. However, the recently renovated Watsons Bay Beach Club, may well be an exception to your anti-tourist radar.

The view from Watsons Bay Beach Club

The view from Watsons Bay Beach Club

Formerly the Watsons Bay Hotel, this new “beach club” takes you to a white-washed seaside oasis. It’s like the Côte d’Azur of Australia, except without the chic French accents. The “club” in the title refers to the multi-purpose use of the venue; there’s dine in or takeaway, a BBQ area, the “Miss Watsons” bar, table tennis, a bottle shop and accommodation plus various function spaces. You can rattle on about the colourful umbrellas and the staff’s Bassike blue-and-white striped uniforms but the main attraction here is the cracking view of Sydney Harbour, the city skyline and the Bridge. If you don’t get that tingly “wow-I-live-in-one-beautiful city’ feeling, then I suggest you hand in your Australian residency because it doesn’t get much better than this.

The nautical theme of the venue

The nautical theme of the venue

When you have views like this, you can’t expect the food to impress too, right? I bite my tongue as we sample Sydney rock oysters and a smoked Snowy River trout pate. Enjoyed with a chilled glass of Stony Peak sav blanc, the quality of the produce impresses. In the mains department, I’m not a tourist but it’s hard to go past the “famous” fish and chips. Sadly, the Coopers batter doesn’t have that light, crisp fluffiness but the chips give this dish a capital F for famous. From the “fresh and green” options, the char grilled chilli and lime octopus salad isn’t char grilled and the dressing could do with some work but it’s a kilojoule-friendly dish for the yummy mummies.

Chilli and lime octopus salad

Chilli and lime octopus salad

Leave your Jesus sandals and matching khaki outfit at home and throw your Polo knit over your shoulder, pull on your chinos and slip on your boat shoes because the Watsons Bay Beach Club is as good as Sydney gets to the French Riviera. If only Johnny Depp thought the same thing too.

Anna Lisle

Read more about the Watsons Bay Beach Club here.

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Filed under Reviews, Watsons Bay, Watsons Bay Beach Club

Jump on a ferry to Sydney’s East – Dunbar House

How is it that we live in a city surrounded by water and yet casual harbour side dining venues are few and far between? Sure, we have Icebergs and ARIA but what about a restaurant that doesn’t sap up half your weekly wage in a few meagre mouthfuls? Not only is Dunbar House located in one of Australia’s oldest standing buildings, it also happens to be 30 metres from the shores of Watsons Bay.

Colourful Missoni fabrics and William Morris wallpaper make up the cafe’s interior

Ask for a table on the sandstone verandah to experience harbour-side dining at its best or, if it’s too windy, head inside where you will discover a chic and elegant sanctuary where groups of Eastern Suburbs ladies enjoy long lunches and high teas. Glamorous gold gilt mirrors hang on walls that have been lined with William Morris paper while custom-made furniture, upholstered using vibrant Missoni fabrics, make up Dunbar’s interior. The elegance isn’t reserved for the décor – high tea is served on pastel-coloured Wedgewood china plates, sauces and stands, all from the Harlequin collection. Looking around, I half expect to see women dressed in full length dresses with gloves and exotic plumes.

From Dunbar’s “Summer Nights” menu – pan fried scallops, blue cheese, radish and witlof.

Despite the suave surrounds, the menu is expansive, with enough options to appease even the fussiest of Eastern Suburbs diners. For breakfast, the waffles with honeycomb butter and poached seasonal fruits are worth an indulgent splurge or for those watching their waistlines, there is a selection of omelettes and dishes such as bircher muesli and house baked granola. The lunch menu puts other café menus to shame with dishes such as salmon ceviche, wagyu meatballs with orecchiette and spiced lamb and haloumi salad. It reminds me of Café Sopra at Fratelli Fresh – and the quality of the ingredients speaks in the same tongue.

Watsons Bay is geographically pretty close to the city (11km to be exact) but it isn’t the easiest place to get to. If you’re visiting during the week, the drive is easy and quick but for weekend bookings, it is best to catch a ferry to avoid the city-to-east traffic.

Anna Lisle

Read more about Dunbar House here

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With or without hats, Aqua Dining is one of the best

Some restaurants spend years investing their time and energy to be part of the exclusive chef hat club, while others prefer to devote their resources in keeping their customers happy, such is the case at Sydney’s Aqua Dining.

The restaurant, which opened in 2000, is part of the AQUA Dining Group, owned by Bill Drakopoulos. As well as Aqua Dining, Drakopolous also owns the four restaurants that bear the “Ripples” moniker at striking waterside locations such as Milson’s Point, Chowder Bay, Sydney Wharf and Whale Beach.

With Head Chef Anthony Redondi (see the Harbour Bridge in the reflection!)

Aqua Dining offers 180-degree water views through floor-to-ceiling windows. Photos just don’t do the vista at this restaurant justice. To one side, you can watch as fitness fanatics energetically swim lengths of North Sydney Olympic Swimming Pool. Or, for those who have forgotten to exercise that day and prefer to eat their meal and sip their wine guilt-free, guests can angle their seats out towards Sydney Harbour, where the Harbour Bridge and the iconic Sydney Opera House loom impressively overhead. Renovations by renowned architect Sidney Koh in 2011 have transformed the dining room into a fresh, uncluttered space with pearl white tables and chairs with natural beech framing. Drenched in natural light, with a relaxed and casual vibe, Aqua Dining combines everything that a waterside restaurant should.

$39 Red Wine Flight – char grilled quail breasts with lentils, twice-cooked pork belly with mandarin mustard fruit and beef fillet with truffled potato puree – includes three 50mL glasses of wine

Food is still the most important component in a meal out, of course, and Aqua Dining has that area covered, too. The 2011 renovations also instigated a new Italian-influenced menu under Executive chef Anthony Redondi. Before his time at Aqua Dining, Anthony was Head Chef at Trattoria La Vigna in Camden and prior to that, Executive Chef at the Stamford Hotel in Circular Quay. On the day we visited, Anthony had just returned from a two week trip to the United States where, together with Drakopolous, the duo explored new ideas for the restaurant and menu.

The effort that the Aqua team invests in ensuring that the restaurant stays at the cutting edge of the hospitality industry shows. From the $39 “White/Red Wine Flight” dining special to the restaurant’s sleek aesthetic, all elements of the Aqua experience have been well researched and professionally implemented.

Anna Lisle

Read more about Aqua Dining here

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Filed under Aqua Dining, Milsons Point, Reviews

An indulgent treat, The Dining Room at Park Hyatt Sydney

After a $65 million revamp, the newly redesigned Park Hyatt Sydney brings a new level of contemporary luxury to the edge of Sydney Harbour. From the hotel’s penthouse suite to the lobby below, the new Park Hyatt Sydney epitomises opulence and luxury. Perhaps a weekend away in their Rooftop Suite is out of the option? Don’t worry. Instead, book a table at the Park Hyatt’s signature restaurant, The Dining Room, and experience an indulgent treat.

Views rarely get better than this

At the heart of the Park Hyatt’s revamp is The Dining Room. Formerly Harbourkitchen&bar, the new restaurant has been transformed in keeping with the hotel’s new residential styling and direction. Taking full advantage of its coveted harbour front position, the simple and elegant interior of The Dining Room boasts four-metre-high floor-to-ceiling windows. Perfect for impressing visitors to Australia, diners can wine and dine while looking directly across Sydney Harbour to the Opera House. And unlike many waterfront restaurants, The Dining Room is equally impressive at night – with the Opera House lights illuminating the water below.

Tamarind and molasses glazed Blackmore Wagyu beef brisket, beetroot and horseradish

The view however is not the only draw card of The Dining Room. When the Executive Chef of a restaurant can rattle off New York’s Daniel, Tokyo’s New York Grill, Beijing’s Aria Restaurant, Paris’ Three Michelin-star Pavillion de Ledoyen and Melbourne’s Vue de Monde, as just a few of the restaurants he has worked, guests are sure to be impressed. Under the relentless guidance of Executive Chef Andrew McKee, the menu showcases seasonal, organic and free-range Australian produce. Working directly with local suppliers, Chef McKee’s menu features David Blackmore’s Wagyu beef, Murrayland lamb and Sydney rock oysters. One of his signature dishes, Charcoal grilled Blackmore Wagyu beef and celeriac rémoulade cannot be described as anything less than sublime while the dessert menu, featuring dishes such as hazelnut dacquoise and caramel mille-feuille with praline, give new meaning to the word indulgence.

An experience at the Park Hyatt Sydney’s The Dining Room cannot be described as anything less than luxurious. However, luxury does not need to come with a hefty price tag: The Dining Room’s lunch menu offers one course for $39, two courses for $59 and three courses for $69, and includes a glass of wine selected by the sommelier.

Anna Lisle

Harbour Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

Read more about The Dining Room here

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A timeless gem, Kingsleys Steak and Crabhouse

In the hospitality industry, where restaurants open and close quicker than you can say “under new management”, consistency is one of the most valuable commodities. Kingsleys Steak and Crabhouse, at Woolloomooloo Wharf, is one of the most reliable restaurants in Sydney. Night after night, meal after meal, Kingsleys delivers impressive food, great service and all in one stunning location.

Sydney’s famous Woolloomooloo Wharf

Don’t be perturbed by the restaurant’s name, Kingsleys is a far cry from your classic two fisted steakhouse. Boasting a formal fine-dining restaurant setting, spread over two levels, the tables on the ground-level wharf are one of the restaurant’s most prized assets. Booked out almost every weekend, a wharf table at Kingsleys gives diners an uninterrupted 180 degree view of the city’s skyline and Sydney Harbour. The perfect destination for impressing tourists and out-of-towners.

Salt and pepper baby octopus

It goes without saying that this meaty mecca certainly gives carnivores a cause for rejoicing, however Kingsleys Steak and Crabhouse impresses equally in the seafood department. An entree of salt and pepper baby octopus is crispy and tender, served with a sweet balsamic glaze that brings the dish together. A ceviche of wild kingfish, offers an interesting textual experience that is offset by crunchy prawns and a housemade mayonnaise. And while Kingsley’s is renowned for its sumptuous serves of QLD chilli mud crab, there was no way I was going past a 400 gram aged rib on the bone. Because, we must remember, rather than being just your average steakhouse, Kingsley’s is, in fact, THE steakhouse. With nothing else on the plate, the aged rib was served as is, without a piece of shrubbery to taint its meaty goodness. Initially questioning how I would get through such a large slab of meat, the aged rib was quietly devoured and all that was left on the plate was a meat-less bone.

Kingsley’s Steak and Crabhouse is a timeless and reliable gem.

Anna Lisle

Kingsleys Steak & Crabhouse on Urbanspoon

Read more about Kingsley’s Steak and Crabhouse here

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Filed under Kingsley's Steak and Crabhouse, Reviews, Woolloomooloo