Cocktails and desserts at Cafe Sydney

Whenever my sister Wendy considers a restaurant, she decides according to what’s available for dessert. And when she saw the words “dessert platter” on Cafe Sydney‘s online menu, we were both sold.

Located on top of the Customs House building right across Circular Quay station, Cafe Sydney has a decent view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a once-familiar sight that now fills me with the touristy urge to retrieve my camera.

The view at twilight.

The view at twilight.

Despite a slight hiccup with the reservation (they’d put us in the system for next Tuesday), we were seated reasonably quickly, and had a drink to start. I went for the cocktail of the month, entitled “Deep Desire” (embarrassingly, I’ve forgotten what’s in it), while Wendy had a homemade ginger beer that was super gingery and delicious.

Yay drinks!

Yay drinks!

We’d originally decided to have all five available desserts, and balance those with a few small “grown-up” dishes to start. Wendy has been on a naan kick lately, so we got a spiced caramelised onion naan ($4), and a goat cheese spinach naan ($4). They were both absolutely delicious, and it worked out perfectly because Wendy preferred the former and I the latter, so we didn’t have to fight over the last pieces.

Spiced caramelised onions on the left, and goats cheese spinach on the right.

Spiced caramelised onions on the left, and goats cheese spinach on the right.

We also got a salad with homemade labne, cos, radicchio, pomegranate, pistachio, mint, and ras el hanout ($23). Unfortunately, this was rather disappointing, and made me quite sad because I know salads can be mind-blowing when done well. A very unimpressed Wendy didn’t finish her half, and I didn’t blame her.

The disappointing and over-priced salad.

The disappointing and over-priced salad.

By then, Wendy was pretty much ready to go straight to the desserts, but knowing I would do a write-up, I wanted to give the food menu another chance. I asked our waiter for a recommendation, and he suggested the restaurant’s signature dish: Tandoori roasted Tasmanian ocean trout with saffron cucumber, coconut, onion bhaji, and raita ($39). In addition to the naan, Wendy and I sensed an Indian fusion theme, though the waiter told us Cafe Sydney‘s current head chef, we’d been there for about a year, leans more towards an Italian style. I didn’t stay to find out what was Italian about the bhaji and raita, but the trout was certainly very good, and the accompaniments bursting with flavour.

Mmm, fish...

Mmm, fish…

We had our trout with our second drinks, for which Wendy got a really sweet “Cafe Sydney Lounge”, containing Bombay Sapphire gin, Bacardi Superior rum, citron ginger, Midori, lime, kaffir lime leaf, and cranberry juice ($19), while I got the “Johnnie Stoned”, a beautifully balanced combination of Johnnie Walker black, creme de framboise, lemon, apricot jam, and Fee Brothers peach bitters ($20).

My "Johnnie Stoned" is on the left. Wendy made a face when she tried it--the girl's got a few years yet to discover the glories of whisky (or not).

My “Johnnie Stoned” is on the left. Wendy made a face when she tried it–the girl’s got a few years yet to discover the glories of whisky (or not).

And finally: dessert! The platter ($50) consists of three items from the dessert menu: a chocolate brownie buried in a bed of caramelised macadamia, cookie crumb, and vanilla ice-cream; a pudding with strawberry, rhubarb, mascarpone, meringue, strawberry jelly, and sorbet; and a chocolate shortbread sandwich with mandarin, almond, pomelo, and grapefruit sorbet. To our great disappointment, these were nothing extraordinary, and the shortbread sandwich was actually rather lacklustre. The brownie and strawberry/rhubarb pot were okay, but not worth the $50, and certainly not the $19 if ordered separately.

The dessert platter. At least it was well-presented...

The dessert platter. At least it was well-presented…

Obligatory close-up, despite the low lighting.

Obligatory close-up, despite the low lighting.

Although we’d initially wanted to try the remaining two desserts of a vanilla cheesecake and especially a salted caramel and peanut butter tart, they were $19 each, and after the mediocrity of the platter, we decided it was time to call it a night at Cafe Sydney, and save our dosh for somewhere else.

Visited on: Tuesday, 15 September 2015. Dinner.

Spent: $95 per person. Of the $190 total, $70 were on drinks.

Overall: Very over-priced food–you’re definitely paying for the view, the general atmosphere, and the quality service. The drinks we got were pretty nifty and some of the dishes were good (the naan being a very pleasant surprise!), but I’d rather spend my money elsewhere (such as sepia, which is on tomorrow’s menu). 6/10.

This post was sponsored by my sister Wendy, whose disposable income has far surpassed mine. Careful, dude–I’ll be knocking on your door with a suitcase next! ;)


Cafe Sydney

Level 5, 31 Alfred St
Sydney NSW 2000
Website | Facebook

Monday – Friday: 12:00-late; Saturday: 17:00-late; Sunday: 12:00 (lunch)

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