May 12th, 2008

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Review - 360 Bar & Dining

A week after dining during the day at Sydney Tower Restaurant, I was invited to dine at the tower's fine dining alternative, 360 Bar & Dining. I wasn't expecting to be dazzled by the view at night, since I had recently seen it during the day, but I was. It's a dramatic and amazing space, you're at the level of landing aircraft, and you can see for miles.

Cocktails at the bar are a highpoint, and the best I tried was the Thai Mai Shu ($18.50) served with spheres of apple and chilli (yes that's yet another instance of spherification courtesy of Ferran Adria); though the Supernova Martini ($21) served with spheres of lychee and a shot glass of sparkling wine was a close second.

It was fun watching peak hour traffic from on-high, and I would probably suggest that you arrive for an early dinner, while all the lights of the city are on, because it truly looks spectacular.

The first round of cocktail went down so well, we had a second. On the left is a Miss Pennyapple ($19) complete with spheres of kiwi and apple. It wasn't as impressive as either of the first two cocktails (as the bartender agreed). On the right is an Absolute Level Martini ($25) that was the smoothest martini I have ever tasted. I have resolved to buy Absolute Level duty free next time I go overseas - it's the only way I will ever be able to justify the price.

Moving to the table was also enjoyable. Make sure you take note of where it is, as rotation will change where you are with respect to the toilets.

By the way, as you can see in the photo above, there are two tiers of tables. My impression is, if you want to dine here, you want to be on the lower tier closest to the windows. Since the tables cost the same, I would request a window tier on booking, and choose a different night if you don't get it - it does make a difference to the experience I think.

In terms of cuisine, it’s broadly modern Australian, technically driven food with two set price options - $75/ 2 courses, $95/ 3 courses. You should also note here that some special items have additional charges, and that not all main courses are complete (that is, you may need a side).  You are of course paying to dine in such a wonderful location, with such a wonderful view...

Entrees were excellent – I chose perfectly seared Hervey Bay Scallops served with crisp pancetta, baby watercress (yet another baby herb) and sweet-corn and basil puree. They looked great on the plate, arrived at the correct temperature, and melted in the mouth - plus I liked the combination.

My dining companion chose a Cold Pressed Terrine of Muscovy Duck and New England Rabbit with hazelnuts and a baby carrot salad with sourdough which was lovely - not too strongly flavoured, so it would make a nice introduction to terrines if you have not tried one before.

The wine list is excellent - here is our bottle of Shaw and Smith M3 Vineyard Chardonnay ($88) set in front of the dazzling view. This wine is one of our favourites, and was a pleasure to drink.

Mains unfortunately didn't live up to the promise of the entrees. I chose roasted Cowra Lamb Loin with an eggplant puree, potato fondant and roast garlic which was nice, but had a slightly burnt edge to the jus.

For an additional $30, my dining companion chose the Wagyu Sirloin with a marble score of 9. It was raised in Queensland on over 500 days of grain from Security Foods (our premium Wagyu producer) and cooked to the recommended medium. It came on a bed of Paris potato puree (that was divine) with a choice of sauce (we chose bearnaise). It looked pretty lonely, and it was one case where we should have been recommended to select one of their sides ($11) to have a balanced meal. To me, this steak wasn't all that... it certainly didn't seem worth the hefty price tag. 

By the way (after that slab of meat) vegetarians will find a couple of entrees and a trio of mains to choose from.

For dessert I chose the Carpaccio of fresh Fig which was nice, but only notable for the standout kiwifruit sorbet. I did like the presentation.

The much better choice was their Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee - lovely flavour, lots of surface area - a cracking good time!

A visit to the bathroom proved entertaining. I liked the fittings, and I liked the adventure of finding my rotating table somewhat drunk.

My conclusion - as a special occasion restaurant, this is totally a valid option. It is expensive, your dining experience may not be perfect, but the view is really second to none.

360 Bar & Dining
Entry via Gallery Level, 100 Market Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 8223 3883

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