Celebrity chefs and gastronomical fads come and go in Sydney’s restaurant world, but Catalina and its spectacular view remain unchanged. Everything sparkles: the harbour, the clientele, the beautifully presented food and the champagne that fills nearly every glass in the room.
Owners Michael and Judy McMahon are veterans of Sydney’s dining scene, working with the likes of Gay and Tony Bilson, Len Evans and Neil Perry over their many years of restaurant experience.
Catalina’s classic, minimalist interior serves as a blank canvas for the main event: the view, and the food. Sitting on the waterfront, diners can look from the balcony to spot whales, dolphins and the occasional seal.
The accomplished menu gives produce-driven Mediterranean fare a family feel. Catalina’s signature dish – roast suckling pig with tomato chutney and mustard jus – has origins in a meal Michael shared with son Paul and never forgot, at renowned Spanish restaurant Etxebarri.
Also popular are the Sydney rock oysters, served either natural or grilled with lemon, breadcrumbs and shallot sabayon.
If you can resist the champagne-tinged mood, there are two-dozen pages of wine to flick through, with equal weighting between bottles from Australia, Europe and the US.
The spirit and cocktail ranges show a similar breadth, particularly when it comes to whisky, rum and Armagnac. Sadly, the beer selection seems almost like an afterthought, populated as it is with mass-produced labels.