In a cruel twist of fate it often seems as though some of the best views on the north side of the Harbour Bridge are reserved for people on rollercoasters. Altum, though, has changed that – and thrown some damn good food into the mix as a bonus.
Altum opened in Luna Park in late 2018, in the space where The Deck restaurant once was. The Deck had views, sure – of the bridge, Opera House and Barangaroo – but its food never exactly impressed us. It’s worth dodging children clutching fairy floss to get a table here.
Chef Dionisio Randazzo previously appeared behind the stoves as senior sous chef at The Star’s Balla Restaurant, which was established by Italian mainstay Stefano Manfredi. Prior to that he was working the pans at high-end eateries in London, including Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin-starred Pétrus and Italian joint Ristorante Semplice. At Altum, the Sicilian-born chef uses that experience to inform his Mediterranean-Australian menu – with a $25-per-head paella special on Wednesday nights.
One thing’s certain: he won’t be letting the views hog the attention. While they are glorious – the harbour side of the room has floor-to-ceiling windows that open out to the water – Randazzo’s food should drive foot traffic of its own. It’s thoughtfully presented; black plates contrast with purple cabbage in some dishes, the bright splash of melon granita on top of Sydney rock oysters pop on others. Both inside and outside the windows, Altum is an aesthetically pleasing experience.
It’s also one where traditions are being bent. This is apparent in dishes such as the swordfish-wrap starter – Randazzo’s take on a Sicilian classic, where slices of swordfish are wrapped around breadcrumbs. At Altum, the dish begins like that, but is also topped with fennel and salsa verde, and served with orange slivers for a citrus tang.
Seafood is prominent on the starter menu, and though it’s not hauled from the harbour that’s practically lapping at Altum’s door, it all tastes like it could have been. The scallops are a particular highlight – they’re topped with avocado and seaweed and chunks of almond; they’re all at once crunchy, smooth and salty. A Milanese classic, vitello tonnato, has barely been changed from the original: a thin slab of veal with a layer of tuna sauce smeared over the top, capers for an extra whack of saltiness and croutons to give the ultra-tender meat extra bite.
The main menu is split into three: sea, pasture and garden. There are huge butterflied, grilled Yamba prawns sprinkled with sweet amaretti biscuit and served with orange segments and a fennel salad. The duck is done two ways – confit and smoked – and you should order a side of shaved cabbage salad with parsley and mint to go with it. You’ll end up with more Reggiano and pecorino than vegetable (this is not a bad thing).
The Snickers dessert is the restaurant’s most-ordered. This version of the chocolate bar is a surprisingly elegant rectangle of caramel parfait and salted macadamia encased in milk chocolate. Or if the cabbage-cheese concoction wasn’t enough fromage for you, try the fior di latte glacé, gelato made from the semi-soft cheese and held within a dome of white chocolate. Raspberry sauce and poached rhubarb is weaved around the plate’s edges.
There’s a broad selection of wine too – a 39-page broad selection, with plenty of by-the-glass choices from here and abroad. Organic and biodynamic wine aficionados can expect plenty of choice too.