There’s hardly a more quintessential luxurious Sydney experience than dining at Quay. It’s impossible to bypass the fact that, housed in the Overseas Passenger Terminal and making use of the corner tower, it boasts one of Sydney’s prime views – from the Harbour Bridge right around to the Opera House.
Just before the restaurant shut for a three-and-half-month renovation in mid-2018, executive chef Peter Gilmore told Broadsheet: “You must keep evolving; you can’t rest on your laurels.” He wasn’t speaking lightly. Gilmore’s most famous creation, the Snow Egg, is now absent from the menu. In its place is the equally pretty White Coral, a light white-chocolate ganache aerated in a vacuum and frozen with liquid nitrogen. It comes with feijoa ice-cream with a coconut cream for a refreshing three-in-one punch.
This dessert concludes the restaurant’s 10-course, $260 tasting menu, which shows off Gilmore’s skill at using texture and flavour to elevate ingredients. Another example of his innovative streak: Gilmore isn’t a fan of the texture of oysters, but enjoys the flavour. So he invented a new oyster. Silky “oyster cream” is poured in a bespoke ceramic oyster shell and topped with oyster crackling made from the mollusc’s frill. Ossetra caviar is added for an umami note. And because all that isn’t luxe enough, diners are given a handcrafted mother of pearl spoon to eat it with.
Certain producers grow ingredients exclusively for Quay, including Newcastle Greens, which supplies red speckled peas. Epicurean Harvest grows a heirloom variety of Japanese Tennouji turnips for a dish of sand crab, kombu, squid and Wakefield cabbage. Each course has a specific plate, which were created by ceramic artists Malcolm Greenwood, Ben Richardson, Paul Davies and Jacqueline Clayton from Red Shed Pottery.
There’s more: the tables are custom-made from sustainable spotted gum by Planet Furniture. Leading Australian industrial designer Adam Goodrum is behind the purpose-built chairs – “The Quay Chair” – slid underneath. They feature chevron detailing that references the Opera House shells.
The dining room's spectacular 270-degree views of the harbour are complemented by a timber ceiling, which helps direct your gaze up from the plate. Created by the original designer of Quay, George Freedman, it’s curvy, and the natural timber colour, along with the bright blue carpet (referencing the ocean), makes the restaurant look warm and modern. Tonkin Zulaikha Greer was the principal architect on the project.