Finding a nice restaurant in Sydney is pretty easy, but finding a special restaurant to celebrate my friend’s 30th birthday was proving a little tough! I was looking for a restaurant in central Sydney that was a little extra special and fitted the bill. Perhaps a nice view, good drinks and great food, which didn’t cost the earth.
After much deliberation from the substantial choice of excellent Sydney restaurants, I eventually decided upon Waterfront Restaurant located in The Rocks. Not only does Waterfront Restaurant have breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour and the Opera House, but the prices aren’t too bad either, helped by my Entertainment Book membership which gave us one main meal free when dining here.
Waterfront Restaurant serves modern Australian cuisine and is also situated within an historic waterfront location, in the original Campbell’s storehouses built in 1839. Part of the restaurant features a distinctive replica square-rigged colonial sailing ship’s mast running up through it, making it an iconic site for passers-by.
I had reserved a table in advance and requested a seat with a view. We were here 1pm Sunday and it is advisable to book if you want that seat outside close to the water as Waterfront Restaurant was already bustling when we arrived. It is also quite a touristy spot so you’re likely to rub shoulders with tourists straight off a cruise ship or a plane who also like this restaurant for the views!
We were swiftly shown to our seats and provided with menus. Tables were set with crisp white tablecloths and luckily the sun was shining which meant the covers were up so we could enjoy this stunning view in all its glory!
The menu is quite extensive and has a particular focus on fresh fish and seafood. The Signature Specialty which really stood out for me was the Hot & Cold Seafood Platter for Two which comprised of some of the finest seafood including grilled Moreton Bay bugs with garlic butter, chilled blue swimmer crab, flash fried calamari, grilled king prawns, steamed tomato & chili mussels, hot & cold Sydney rock oysters, half shell scallops with pangrattato, grilled barramundi, Tasmanian smoked salmon & chilled tiger prawns served with mixed leaf salad, chips, and tartare sauce. However for $170, this was slightly out of my budget today!
Entrees suited mainly seafood lovers as well as vegetarians with some of the highlights including Chilled Tiger Prawns, Salt & Pepper Prawns, and Flash-fried baby calamari. My friend and I decided to share the Scallops and Pork Belly with Asian salad and cashews.
For mains, there were pasta and risotto dishes, grilled market fresh fish such as the beautiful John Dory, Atlantic salmon and catch of the day, whilst there are dishes from the grill. You could even order crocodile if you wanted! Chelsea went for the Beer battered John Dory fillet & chunky fries that comes with crushed minted peas, lemon & house made tartare sauce ($34). As I haven’t had steak for a while, I had to go for the 250g 100 day aged Eye Fillet steak, complete with gratin potato, slow-roasted tomato, caramelised onion and blue cheese butter served with a red wine jus ($49).
We both started with a glass of white wine whilst we waited for our entrees to arrive. Our Scallop and Pork Belly entrée soon was presented on the table in front of us and it didn’t take long for us to dig in. There were three scallops altogether served on top of crisp and thin pork belly slices with a beautiful Asian salad to the side with the crunchy textures of the cashew nuts. This entrée was the perfect start to a wonderful meal – light and refreshing with the juicy scallops and sweet chilli sauce, complimented by the crunchiness and saltiness of the pork belly and cashew nuts. This was an utter delight.
Before long, our main dishes arrived and my eye fillet steak was cooked to perfection – medium-rare, just as I like it. Chelsea’s beer battered fish and chips was an extremely generous portion size and her fish was light inside with a crisp batter on the outside with a beautiful, creamy tartare sauce to accompany it – yum!
My eye fillet was probably one of the best steaks that I’ve had in a long time. Super juicy and packed full of flavour, my knife glided ever so easily through the steak as if it was butter. The blue cheese butter along with the red wine jus added another depth of flavour, making me go back for more. The gratin potato wasn’t bad, but there was a bland taste to it and lacked seasoning which was a real shame as the slow-roasted tomato burst with sweetness in my mouth and finished off the dish perfectly. There were side dishes you could order to add to the dish, such as green beans or creamy mash potato, but I had plenty on my plate to keep my belly satisfied.
Overall, I found the food and wine to be excellent at the Waterfront Restaurant, topped with the beautiful views of the Sydney harbour, it really made this special 30th birthday meal even more special. We didn’t stay for dessert here, but sweet delights included vanilla pannacotta, chocolate and hazelnut torte as well as sticky date and pecan pudding.
Unfortunately, the only real let down was the service from the staff. There were no real smiles from the waiters and no warm, friendly welcome which was a shame. However, the quality of the food and the company of my friend did make up for this.
If you’re searching for a restaurant with a view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, and you’re in The Rocks area of Sydney, then why not give the Waterfront Restaurant a try for lunch or dinner.