friday foodie: sydney’s ocean room
Degustations, once seen as a complete luxury, are fast becoming a staple in many menus, and are seen as something accessible for diners with time to spare.
And just what are degustations? They usually consist of eight or more small courses, designed to give you an appreciation for the Chef’s signature dishes and the overall feel of the restaurant. They often have an optional complementary wine degustation, and are a fantastic option for those of us who like to try many different things. Just be warned that many restaurants won’t change degustation items for your personal preference, so if you are a picky eater, it’s wise to stay away from them.
I was lucky enough recently to be invited to try the new degustation menu at Ocean Room, located in the iconic Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay — there’s something magical about eating in a restaurant in which I can see The Opera House or The Harbour Bridge. View aside, Ocean Room is a gorgeous restaurant. It’s well-lit — you can still see your food, but it’s dim enough that it gives a softer ambiance so that you really just notice the people you are sitting with, and aren’t distracted by others around you. High on the ceiling are beautiful wooden chimes, which we’re told sway gently across the ceiling when there’s a breeze. The restaurant seems to be well-spaced, and while there were another two large groups in the restaurant while we were there (as well as smaller tables), I was never distracted by the noise of fellow diners.
If I could sum up the 13 courses in one sentence, it’ll be this: the Japanese-inspired degustation was fresh, care was taken to bring out individual flavours, and they were constructed with innovation but without pretension.
The degustation, as the restaurant’s name would suggest, is seafood heavy. There are sushi and sashimi courses — the fish used is a daily selection, picked fresh from the Sydney Fish Markets every morning. While it’s difficult to pick favourites, there were a few standouts.
The Onsen, a vegetable fondue with a garlic and anchovy bath, came with vegetables cooked perfectly – each had just enough crunch, and the freshness of the dish provided a refreshing foil to a couple of the more intricate ones. The Miso Cod, a perfectly grilled piece of fish was accompanied by a ginger risotto. The dish had a sweetness without being overwhelming, and the fish flaked at the touch of the fork. The Sansui had three elements: wagyu flat iron steak, quinoa crusted king prawn, agedashi taro potato – the flavours of the three items worked wonderfully together, and the quinoa crusted king prawn might have been my favourite taste of the night.
The service was lovely: the dishes were explained, questions were answered without a consult to the kitchen, and the waitstaff were attentive but never intrusive. There is also quite the delish menu of cocktails.
My fellow diners and I left the restaurant feeling full and satisfied, and all of us changing our mind every 5 seconds on what our favourite dish of the night was. The Ocean Room tasting menu was a gorgeous experience, so if you’re a fan of seafood and in Sydney, definitely give it a go.
Reservations can be made by calling Ocean Room on 02-9252-9585