Emerging from the escalator, The Ternary is awash with colour. The bright hues distract you from feeling like you’re entering the restaurant and lobby bar of a major hotel, without taking anything away from the sparkling city skyline.
It has been three years since this restaurant launched with a splash, and I’m delighted to find it has settled in well. What’s even more delightful is to meet many of the same staff I encountered on my first visit.
Culinary Director Anthony Flowers has been with the restaurant since inception. After returning from watching one of his young chefs graduate, he pops past my table to say hello.
“As soon as I walked upstairs I got the ginger and the garlic from my wok, and I thought: that’s what I want,” enthused Anthony when I mention The Ternary feels miles away from a sterile hotel environment.
I’m seated ringside at the grill station, one of two Masterchef-style well-lit cooking arenas, where you can get amongst the action. These stations are perfect for solo hotel diners craving a bit of banter, or for anyone who enjoys live cooking shows.
The real strength of The Ternary in staff training (and retention) shines, with all staff eager to answer any questions you throw at them - even whilst delivering your Garlic and Cheese Naan ($8).
Cooked in a tandoor in their Asian Kitchen, it’s a better naan than I’ve had at many of Sydney’s dedicated Indian restaurants.
You’ll also see the Novotel focus upon staff development in The Ternary’s third pillar – the bar. Along with an array of signature cocktails, their young bartenders are all able to contribute their own cocktail to the menu of Bartender Signatures, which are priced slightly beneath their regular range.
Murdoch introduces us to Something Different ($19) – his light-hearted, sweet and sour blend of pineapple, lemon juice, Hayman’s Sloe Gin, house-made spice syrup, egg white and rhubarb bitters, beefed up by a slurp of yellow Chartreuse.
The tropical flavours make it a good foil for our Pan Seared Scallops ($19/4), cooked so they remain translucent in the centre, then finished off with a Thai-inspired salad, kaffir lime leaf and a roasted peanut dressing.
For a quiet midweek night, it's impressive to see The Ternary are still servicing 130 diners. Being a hotel restaurant, means that by necessity, their menu must please a wide range of people. An upstanding cigar of Pulled Peppered Beef ($19) in crisp pastry is very accessible, elevated slightly with a drizzle of tamarind and a balancing lime squeeze. We enjoy it with Blue Steel ($19) a fruitier Dark’n’Stormy style cocktail made on Kraken Rum, and presented by bartender Dave, who is also celebrating his three-year anniversary with the restaurant.
We move through good quality Lamb Cutlets ($27/4). Cooked in the tandoor, their smoky exteriors hide pleasantly pink centres, with the charry intensity balanced by lemon and zingy beetroot puree.
Celebrating quality produce calls for good wine, and I’m super glad to be drinking the 2014 Shaw+Smith M3 Vineyard Chardonnay ($115/bottle) when the Grilled King Prawns ($27) arrive. The fat New Zealand crustaceans are a meal highlight, not least of which for the clever miso and black garlic sauce. It's only that I'm sitting right at the well-lit grill station that stops me scooping up more of this salty umami with my finger.
Things start getting raucous when our neighbours – regulars at the restaurant - get a monstrous half-kilo platter of Balmain Bugs ($58). The accommodating chef even poses for a photo, to enable the guests to better inspire envy from their social media following.
To prevent us getting order envy, we’re also gifted with a split open bug perched on top of our shared 400g Op Rib ($75).
Pulling it out from the shell in one piece, it’s clearly another well-handled crustacean; and one that may well incline me to come back for the whole half-kilo shebang one day soon.
Below it we found a generous serve of tender, dry-aged Pinnacle grass-fed Angus beef, served tagliata with a flourish of shallot red wine jus.
The rest of my night passed in a blur of cocktails and sugar, culminating in a bespoke dessert board featuring of all of The Ternary’s desserts.
A bit overwhelmed, I sampled my way through their Dark Chocolate Tart ($15) and the Mango and Vanilla Panna Cotta ($15) before coming to rest upon the Lychee Crème Brulee ($16) with its lovely coconut sorbet accompaniment.
It’s easy to see why savvy Sydneysiders have ensured that only half of The Ternary’s guests are actually inhouse hotel guests – the food and dining experience here are both really something.
NOTE: You can see a previous review of this venue back HERE.
Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour,
100 Murray Street, Pyrmont
Ph: (02) 9934 0000