In this long overdue post I will take you guys back to my dining experience at Cafe Sydney that took place a few months ago, everything is just as vivid in my mind as if I had tasted the food yesterday.
Sitting at the top of the Customs House at 31 Alfred Street here in the Sydney CBD, Cafe Sydney is a sight to behold. Its veranda extending over the 19th century Georgian style building it sits atop of, it feels as if you’re walking into a 200 year old palace and you’re about to dine in the king’s personal quarters.
But enough about the impressive architectural designs, you’re here to read about the food! With quite an extensive menu to choose from, my dining partner and I chose to fill our stomachs with a mix of seafood and land dwelling lifeforms.
First, for our entree, I decided I wanted to try some of the oysters they had on offer, because they were listed at the top of the menu and I’m easily distracted by the visual placement of items. We ordered two of each and man oh man, do they look beautiful when they arrived. They were adorned with an assortment of condiments that added plenty to the taste while allowing just enough of the natural oyster flavour to seep through. The sauces they applied to the oysters were not overwhelming like you would usually find at a seafood buffet where the staff empty a bucket of sauce on each and every oyster like it owed them money and they’re trying to drown it with sauce, the balance here was just right and made my tastebuds very happy. I would score these beauties a solid 8.5 out of 10, the only con I would put against them is the hefty price tag they carry.
Our other entree, on recommendation of someone from work, we tried the goat cheese spinach naan. I know what you’re wondering, why would you try the naan at a place like Cafe Sydney? We were also a bit hesitant but my dining partner loves her bread and we took it as an opportunity to try something different. And we were pleasantly surprised when it arrived to our table, the naan shell was crisp and not overly doughy, the goat cheese was aplenty, and the spinach added enough flavour that it didn’t taste like soft nachos. All in all, it was a great recommendation and we were glad we went with it, a good 8 out of 10 in my book.
To finish off our starting round, I ordered a Vesper martini, no explanations needed, and my compadre had a passionfruit twist mocktail on account of her driving duties after dinner. The martini was disappointing to say the least, entirely too salty for my expectations and taste, perhaps that is how it is supposed to be done but I’m afraid it’s not to my personal liking. And the passionfruit mocktail also disappointed in that it had a bitterness to it that was too strong and overpowered the rest of the sweeter ingredients, not what one would expect when they take a gander at the glass. Overall, I score them an average 5.5 out of 10.
And now, to the moment you’ve been waiting for, the main course. To sate our hunger, we ordered the suckling pork belly and the chef special, blue eye trevalla. For side dishes, we had the burrata and rocket salad, just so we don’t feel guilty about not feeding our bodies anything healthy, and potatoes roasted in duck fat.
The blue eye trevalla caught my attention mainly due to it not being on the regular menu and was one of the chef specials they had on at the time, nothing that makes a guy feel more special than ordering something not normally offered. However, the excitement was soon diminished as the seafood catch was delivered to the table. It looked good but the meat of the fish felt a bit dry for my taste, there was not much juice, natural or otherwise, infused in the meat of the blue eye trevalla and it really showed against the palette. The most damning criticism I have against the dish is the fact that the mushroom and potato paste that accompanied the fish were more tasty and flavourful than the trevalla itself. As for the side dishes, the roasted potatoes were uneventful, it tasted like any other potato that one could find at their local grocery store, the duck fat factor that was advertised did not come through in the taste test. And the rocket salad was largely left untouched by our table, perhaps we just weren’t in the mood for it but I did not eat enough of the salad to make a judgement. This paragraph is becoming a bit longwinded so I’m going to wrap it up! For the blue eye trevalla, it scores a 6 out of 10 with the mushroom and potato paste being its saving grace. And 4 out of 10 for the duck fat roasted potatoes.
On the other hand, the pork belly was a truly exquisite experience on its own. The fatty layer was extra crispy and easy to chew, completely laid to rest our fear that the fat would be too chewy and make the entire dish an unpleasant and gross experience. The meatier layer underneath the crispy surface was quite substantial, belying its seemingly small real estate. The juiciness of the pork belly came out with every bite, it was cooked very tender and full of flavour, and I’m not sure what it was cooked with but there was an aromatic hint to it as well. Accompanying the suckling pork belly was a small cut of morcilla sausage (blood sausage), burnt peach (that’s not a potato!), and apple balsamic for you to slather your food with. And slather we did, on everything! It added a sweet apple taste with a slight vinaigrette kick that matched well with the innate flavours of the other dishes. The morcilla sausage and burnt peach were nice additions to the plate that contributed unique flavours and texture that we were not expecting of the dish, they made a nice contrast to the pork belly. Overall, the suckling pork belly receives a score of 9 out of 10.
Other than the food, the place was extravagant and breathtaking in its décor, with a great view of Circular Quay. The service was good aside from the overly attentive waiter that tried so hard to make sure we were having a good time that he became a bit of a nuisance, it came out of good intentions but I wish he had dialed back the enthusiasm a little bit. But overall, I would highly recommend Cafe Sydney with its beautifully presented food that mostly taste as good as they look and its breathtaking atmosphere and view. They also have a lounge section where you can go just to enjoy a few drinks and the view.