Review: Quay, Sydney’s Famed Restaurant Overlooking the Opera House

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Quay is generally regarded as among the top restaurants in the Asia Pacific region. It’s one of the most recognized.

And it’s a perfectly good restaurant, much better than you’d expect from a restaurant with amazing front row center views of the Sydney Opera House and the harbor.

But I found the food itself good and not great, probably not worth the price especially considering that there weren’t particularly expensive ingredients used in most of the dishes.

I’m getting ahead of myself. The restaurant is an easy walk around the dock from the Park Hyatt. I could even see the entrance from my room. Some reviewers note that the entrance to the restaurant is hard to find, and once you see the building it’s still non-obvious. It’s hidden in plain sight, because it’s not exactly the entrance you’d expect.

Inside the restaurant is beautiful, if a bit out of place for this decade.

The best seats are past the stairs, directly in the windowline looking out at the Opera House. I wasn’t seated there. It seemed to be predominantly large parties there the evening I dined. Instead there were a few small tables off the bar, facing a window that did look out at the harbor but completely away from the Opera House. The area seemed like it had been once a waiting area. The plush bench was where one person would sit, there was a table in front, and a chair brought to the side of the table.

I didn’t mind actually. These were the ‘undesirable’ seats, but:

  • I had all the view of the Opera House I could ever want from my room, just a stone’s throw away at the Park Hyatt
  • Being shunted off to the side of the restaurant had an upside, it was far quieter than in the core of the dining room and I generally prefer a peaceful meal.

Nonetheless, someone that had come for the view would be have been most displeased.

We opted for the 8 course tasting menu which was AU$235 per person. Click to enlarge:

We began with an amuse bouche.

I’m often not a fan of beef tartare, but the raw wagyu with rice crisps and mushrooms did taste excellent.

Mud crab and egg yolk congee was quite good.

Next up was summer squash, lobster, clams and sea urchin:

The sea scallop ‘pig bowl’ was… scallops, with mushrooms and sesame, pretty much as you’d expect.

The fish, ‘whiting’ was well cooked but under-seasoned.

The entree, or in Australian parlance the ‘main’, was duck.

Snow egg which is poached meringue with ice cream inside and served on top of granita. The egg itself was good, but I really didn’t want to eat a bowl of granita so I left most of it.

The finale was ‘chocolate ethereal’ which was good but unmemorable.

At the end of the day the meal was good, though no single course was truly special. You’re paying as much for the view as the food, but on this evening at this seating I didn’t even receive the nice view. So while a good meal, it wasn’t a good meal for the price point, and I wouldn’t be especially anxious to return.


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 Milepoint.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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Comments

  1. Good review. We ate there a couple years back and had a great meal…Though we did not do the tasting menu. My wife and I each had a different pork dish that was fantastic.

  2. Gary, have you tried Momofuku Seiobo? I have heard good things about their tasting menu and can vouch for the tastings at Ko in NYC and Shoto in Toronto.

  3. Thanks for writing about all of these high-hype and low-substance molecular gastronomy places. By showing me what I’m not missing, I think you’ve saved my future self thousands of dollars!

    For that price I’d rather have 20 of the Mr. Crackles sandwiches you showed, now THAT is a meal!

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