The hotel dining room was once the preserve of guests without the time or inclination to explore further afield; a place of cloche-covered the bain-maries and perfunctory service suited to busy business travellers.
No more: a new breed of hotel restaurant is showing that a room upstairs is not the only reason to book a table. With its elegant refurbishment and a new menu created by executive chef Steven Hartert, Q Dining at the Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour has the makings of a dining destination.
The restaurant's understated decor allows the true stars to shine. Through the floor-to-ceiling windows, Sydney Harbour glitters; on the plate, local produce and Indigenous ingredients form the basis of a truly Australian cuisine.
Begin with a small dish to share: tender 12-hour Port Lincoln octopus tastes satisfyingly smoky, its meatiness tempered by a sweet romesco sauce and pickled basil leaves, and tender scallops in the shell are given a bush-food twist with a Davidson’s plum butter and tiny pearls of tangy finger lime.
Larger dishes expand on the theme: Patagonian toothfish is served with saltbush leaves, candied muntries and a macadamia crumb, and a Hunter Valley pigeon is rich with fig vincotta and earthy nameko mushroom with the tangy sharp bite of lemon aspen. To share, there’s a perfect 800-gram baby barramundi, its tender white flesh infused with herb butter, lemon myrtle and black garlic, and a one-kilogram tomahawk grass-fed Angus beef steak that’s cooked over saltbush then finished in the oven.
A restaurant is only as good as its bread and at Q Dining it’s from The Bread & Butter Project, a bakery-cum-social-enterprise that creates artisan sourdough while helping refugees and asylum seekers find employment.
See Also: 9 Must-Do Sydney Harbour Experiences
The menu ends on a high note: Textures of Chocolate is warm with eucalyptus oil, tart with feral plum and sweet with warm chocolate fudge; on the other side of the flavour palette is a Campari Affogato served with blood orange sorbet and candied orange rind.
A word to the wise: the volume in this understated dining room rarely gets beyond a pleasant hum – except on Friday and Saturday nights. Then, Hacienda, a bar located just upstairs from Q Dining, thumps with heavy bass.
Atmosphere: Elegant and refined
Best for: Intimate dinners, business lunches
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Standout dish: Patagonian toothfish
Open: Seven days for lunch and dinner
Address: 61 Macquarie Street, Sydney
Phone number: (02) 9256 4000