In Sydney

In Sydney

We stopped by the Sydney Fish Market on the way to my family’s place from the airport to pick up dinner, then Thursday went to the Taronga Zoo (let me know if anyone wants pictures, for the moment I’ll just share this sign which particularly amused me). Then lunch on the water and back to change for the evening.

My family had arranged a private tour of the Opera House, and then we had prime seats for a new play, Two Brothers. (Which was fine, some of the humor a bit too locally Australian for us really to get, but for a political play it was way too unsubtle for my tastes – in the very first scene we learn that conservatives are characterized by their heartlessness and desire to see immigrants die for their own ends.)

On Friday we went shopping and then we checked into the Intercontinental for the evening. We didn’t want to stay in the suburbs that night, as we had a dinner booking at Tetsuya’s.

On Saturday we walked around Manly, and on Sunday we had brunch at an enjoyable Sardinian restaurant, Pilu at Freshwater Beach. On Monday, for our last night, we decided to spend it in the city so I made an impromptu award booking online at the Westin Sydney.

Intercontinental Sydney

We arrived about 2pm and were given a room with harbor and botanical gardens view. We could see the Opera House to the left, but didn’t have a direct view. After our arrival the hotel sent up champagne (Trilogy), chocolates, water, and fruit.

I had heard that the hotel was more old style but rooms must have been recently renovated as they were quite modern and electronic. There was a power window screen controlled from the side of the bed, as actually much of the room was controlled from there.

There was a note in the room that said you had to call down for turndown service by 6pm. I rather like turndown service but feel cheesy about calling for it, so I didn’t. Upon return from dinner I discovered that turndown had been done anyway. Turndown service was chocolate and bottled water – but they brought those for only one and not both of us.

Room service was very prompt. We first called for coffee and it was there within five minutes. We called for breakfast some time later and it arrived within 15 minutes.

The bathroom had a frosted glass window into the bedroom. What I didn’t like about it was the when you turn the light on in the bathroom, it shines into the bedroom. That’s inconvenient when getting up in the middle of the night, since it means you may disturb someone that’s still sleeping. 🙁

Here’s the room, the desk and bed, the bathroom, and a view of the doorway and bath from the room.

Tetsuya’s

We caught a cab from the Intercontinental over to Testsuya’s. The bellman hailed the cab and knew the address to give to the driver.

Restaurant Magazine recently named Tetsuya’s as the 4th best restaurant in the world in their annual list of 50 best restaurants. Now, surveys like these are notoriously unreliable, but this honor is a pretty strong indication that the restaurant is well-regarded (though opinions have been somewhat mixed here on Flyertalk).

About AU$10 later we had arrived. There’s an entrance driveway, and you come in through gates. It creates a nice effect of entering a different world, and a contrast to most of downtown where everything seems right up on the street.

I won’t be able to comment on cost this evening, the booking was made for us as a gift.

We were taken into a dining room off to the side of the main dining room, this one was quiet while the larger room seemed somewhat loud. We were seated in the corner beside a cabinet full of beautiful china and next to floor to ceiling glass looking out over a Japanese garden.

The waiter came over and described the menu for the evening and asked if we had any preferences or concerns. We were happy to put ourselves in their care for the evening, and so we proceeded with the set menu.

Bread and truffle butter were brought to the table, and I ate more bread than I should have consider what was in store because the butter was by far the best I had ever tasted.

Wine Courses
2004 Brian Barry Judd’s Hill Riesling, Clare Valley, SA
2001 Perro Chardonnay ‘For Tetsuya’, Margaret River, WA
2001 Tarrawarra Pinot Noir ‘For Tetsuya’, Yarra Valley, Vic
2002 Mosswood Cabernet Sauvignon ‘For Tetsuya’, Margaret River, WA
2004 Wellington Iced Riesling, Southern Tasmania, Tas

Dinner Menu
Snow Egg and Caviar Sandwich

Tartare of Tuna on Sushi Rice with Avocado

Tuna marinated in Soy & Mirin
Spring Bay Scallop with Wakame & Lemon
Cold Corn Soup with Basil Ice Cream

Confit of Petuna Tasmanian Ocean Trout with Konbu, Daikon, & Fennel
Seasonal Green Salad

Ravioli of Lobster and Crab with Shellfish Essence

Twice Cooked De-Boned Spatchcock with Braised Daikon & Bread Sauce

Grilled Wagyu Beef with Asian Mushrooms and Lime Jus

Lime Sorbet with Feijoa
Strawberry Shortcake

Blue Cheese Ice Cream with Pear & Sauterne Jelly

Floating Island with Praline and Vanilla Bean Anglaise
(there was a surprise once we bit in, see here)

(not on the menu, we were brought some additional special treats)

Coffee and Petit Four

During the meal I asked the waiter if we could have a tour of the kitchen and he replied, “of course, anything you like, it’s your night.” So as the meal neared an end the front of the house manager, who had taken our picture earlier came over and brought us into the kitchen.

It was better than expected when he then took us upstairs to Tetsuya’s experimental kitchen and the show kitchen were he gives presentations for food writers and for photographs. I was most impressed by the induction stoves, they didn’t feel hot if you hovered just above them but heated instantly when anything was placed upon them.

On the way back down we passed Tetsuya coming out of his library.

At the end of the meal we were brought a gift bag with Tetsuya’s book, which he had inscribed to us, along with his truffle butter mix, oyster sauce, and salad dressing.

In the end, I’d say that the food was phenomenal and the service from the waiter was fine – not stuffy, rude, or inattentive – but not exceptional (at least compared to my best dinner of 2004, the Inn at Little Washington though I think I actually enjoyed the food more at Tetsuya’s).

The evening was truly capped off wonderfully with the tour we were given, and it was nice to receive parting gifts. We had actually asked about purchasing the book, but I learned that our booking had already been arranged to include the book with a request that it be inscribed to us. Still, the truffle butter salsa and oyster sauce and salad dressing was a real surprise. I wonder why more restaurants (and businesses generally) don’t do little things like that? Any time I’m given something I don’t expect it’s touching and extra special, even if it’s a small and inexpensive item. Small investments like that go a very long way.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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