Q here for fresh food … with a view

Considering it’s right on Sydney’s iconic harbour walkway, Q Dining is still very much a hidden gem, says Sue Williams

There’s one item guaranteed never to be served up with the fine dining in a restaurant nestled under apartments in a top Australian location … a side-dish of attitude.

Even though Q Dining at Sydney’s East Circular Quay, with dramatic views of the harbour and bridge, prides itself on its micro-seasonal menu and hand-crafted charcuterie, executive chef Daniel Simpson is never above whipping up an off-menu chicken schnitzel or Caesar salad if a regular from the neighbouring apartments makes a special request.

“Daniel’s great like that,” says restaurant manager Atsuko Asano. “He’s worked all over the world, including on cruise ships and in New Zealand, and he’s very flexible. If a customer says he wants something like that, then Daniel will probably turn around and say if that’s what the customer wants, then that’s what he’ll get.”

Q Dining, as part of the Pullman Quay Grand Hotel and the Quay Grand Apartments, has been feeding apartment-dwellers and other locals around Sydney Harbour and its visitors since late 2012 when it was bought by the Accor Group and transformed from the old Quadrant Restaurant. Now it also regularly caters for patrons like Opera Australia, passengers from the cruise liners visiting the city, and international fashion icons who drop by from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

They call in for breakfast seven days a week, lunch from Monday to Friday, and dinner Monday to Saturday, for the quarterly changing menu with its highlights on fresh food supplied by primary producers and artisan suppliers within the Sydney basin, as well as the best from the rest of the country.

“My vision is always around the availability of seasonal produce and to make sure our guests are surprised and excited by the menu, and are always keen to return,”  Daniel says. “They’ll have an experience to remember each time, with world-class cuisine and those spectacular views across Sydney’s sparkling harbour.”

Breakfast includes dishes like the brioche french toast with spiced walnuts, honeycomb mascarpone and bacon and the house-cured ocean trout with scrambled eggs, fennel, crème fraiche and potato rosti. For lunch, there’s a two-course special on the menu for $34 with choices like six freshly shucked oysters with a mignonette dressing, lemon and lime for entree, and for mains, Tasmanian salmon, orzo, mussels and salmon chicharrons.

At dinner, there are two menus: a pre-theatre array of choices from 5.30pm, and the a la carte. One of the signature entrees is the ham hock terrine, Iberico consommé and pea textures, and for mains the pan roasted duck breast, butternut pumpkin, radicchio and pear, as well as a huge array of delicacies from the charcuterie.

For dessert, it’s hard to go past the apple doughnuts with rhubarb jelly and white chocolate custard or the chocolate beetroot fudge with orange marmalade and earl grey gel (see recipe).

“We have a lot of people from the apartments above come down for breakfast, lunch and dinner, although not usually all three meals on the same day!” says Atsuko, who’s been at the restaurant since April last year. “I think they like it so much because it’s very relaxed, casual dining.

“You don’t have to dress up or wear a suit and tie, although you can if you want to. And we have some first-timers who phone to ask for a window seat so they’ll see the view. We have to explain that we’re in a glass atrium with floor-to-ceiling glass, so everyone there gets a view.”

A single set of stairs away is the ECQ Bar for a drink before dinner or with its own bar menu. It also has a cocktail menu of a collection designed for the best 50 hotels in the world, with cocktails like the Marmalade Margarita, made using a Don Julio Reposado tequila with citrus and orange notes, and the Zacapa Port Crumble, a beautiful match between chocolate and rum.  Knowing how hard it can be to choose, there’s even a new cocktail degustation menu.

But quite apart from the food and the drink, the major factor in Q Dining’s popularity with locals is that regulars are treated with real warmth. The staff quickly get to know the names of residents living above and welcome them in like old friends.

“It’s like having your own favourite restaurant or cafe anywhere,” says Atsuko. “It’s cool to be recognised. People will then often bring their friends along too and we’ll make sure we look after them as well.

“We find we just become part of the apartment lifestyle.”

Q Dining, 61 Macquarie Street, East Circular Quay, Sydney. Telephone (02) 9256 4000. Open for breakfast 7am-11am seven days a week, lunch from Monday to Friday 12pm – 3pm, and dinner Monday to Saturday 5.30pm – 10pm.


Chocolate beetroot fudge, orange marmalade, earl grey gel (with pic)


Beetroot chocolate fudge

500g salt roasted beetroot, grated

75g unsalted butter

250g dark chocolate

5 g vanilla paste

125g brown sugar

125g caster sugar

3 eggs

175g almond meal

35 g cocoa powder

Melt chocolate and butter, place in food processor with beetroot and blend until smooth.

Whip eggs and sugar until double, pale and thick.

Sift cocoa powder, fold all ingredients together gently until just combined.

Pour into a lined brownie tray, Bake at 160 for 40 minutes

Orange marmalade

500g oranges

400g sugar

5g pectin

Water to just cover

Remove zest with peeler, julienne. Peel oranges of pith, blitz.

Put all the ingredients in a pot and simmer for 25minutes until marmalade has thickened.

Earl grey gel

400mL milk

5g agar agar

10g earl grey tea leaves

100g caster sugar

Infuse the milk with the earl grey tea and pass trhough a fine strainer. Bring milk back to the simmer and add the sugar and agar agar whisking for about five minutes until dissolved. Allow to set then blend in a bar blender. Put into a piping bag.

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