The stunning fit-out of Sean Connolly's latest venture Sean’s Kitchen inside the Star City Casino is very similar to the sparkling Las Vegas casino restaurants. I should know, having just returned from there myself last month. The restaurant is divided into two sections - a fine-dining section (pictured above) and a Spanish tapas bar (pictured below).
The tapas side is a gorgeous fit-out that reminded me a lot of L'Atelier de Joel Rubouchon in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas... here's a photo so you can see what I mean.
That said, it has some unique touches too, including a bull and these funky lounge chairs!
I dined in the fine dining part of the restaurant, where crates of Krug partially block the view of punters feeding their pensions into the slots. Nice to chuckle at, but realize they support the excellent price to quality ratio of food in this restaurant. Plus they're probably the reason he can have a very expensive ham-ifier...
So as you might guess, the jamón excels due to proper storage in the cabinet that replicates cave-like conditions. You can try three of these hanging jamóns in Sean’s Flavours of Jamón ($40). The first jamón on the left is from a white pig, the second two are from black pigs, and the Oro Gold Iberico de Bellota on the far right hand side wins in terms of flavour. There were more on his list though that I am already very excited about going back to try...
We enjoyed our jamón with a cocktail or two from the Spanish selections in the cocktail menu. The pretty cocktail in the foreground of my photo is a Kalimocho ($15) (originally called a 'rioja libre') which comes from the Basque region of Spain. It's made of red wine, coca cola, black berry and vanilla cinnamon syrup. The cocktail in the background is a La Chica ($17) - rum, Licor 43, hibiscus syrup, kaffir lime and cloudy apple. Both were good.
Chef Sean Connolly says the cuisine here “touches my heart”, as it’s “real food for real people.” If you’ve yearned for a fine-diner experience with an accessible menu, this restaurant's menu REALLY fits the bill. There's both surf, and turf. Both are done exceptionally well - I particularly loved the way seafood was displayed on mounds of ice lit with a bluish light from below. This made me very interested in their oysters, and they were fabulous, particularly the Moonlight Flat Angasi ($4/each). The sommelier, Robert Nicholson, matched them well with a ‘La Goya’ Sherry ($6/glass) - an unusual but excellent suggestion.
We moved on to Large Cooked Yamba Prawns 400g with Marie Rose Sauce ($40) which were lovely, but perhaps a shade expensive. The sauce was the best version of a seafood sauce I have had to date - delicate, but a perfect compliment to the sweet prawns.
Before our next dish, the sommelier (who is still tweaking the existing list) produced a fabulous 2004 Spanish Grenache called Pegaso ($90). He did not decant it, rather he let it open up gradually over the course of the next two dishes - it became more and more wonderful, but I liked it from the first mouthful.
The first dish we enjoyed the wine with was the Steak Tartare ($24) of excellent Angus tenderloin. I have to say it was the best one I have had in Australia, basically because it showed the best integration of flavour I’ve had, and it was served with buttery toast. They even brought out more toast when we started to run short, with more tartare remaining - a good way to score points in my book.
From there it was straight to the best dish of the night - a sterling Wagyu Grade 9+ Sirloin ($75) with veal jus and béarnaise
We had it served up beautifully too - presented whole, then sliced to share, with the veal jus poured over it for us.
We had a side of Duck Fat Potatoes ($8) - they were great, but as a fan of thin chips over fat ones, I will stick with my favourite fries being at La Brasserie (watch for a review of their new summer menu in coming weeks). These are my favourite thick cut chips.
Sharing’s the way to experience more of the wide menu. You’ll need two spoons for the divine Duck Egg Crème Catalan ($12) - it's incredibly rich. So rich in fact I couldn't try the second dessert that intrigued me - a Caramelised Apple with Quickes Cheddar Crumble ($12) - something for next time I guess!
Don’t feel the need to dress to the nines, all sorts of patrons attend for food that makes familiar into fabulous, like Wagyu Bangers and Beans ($30). The setting is dazzling too. I will definitely be back, both to try the tapas side of the restaurant (which is less expensive) and to return to this fine dining side.
Level 2, Star City Casino, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont
Ph: (02) 9777 9000