The first few times I was in Cafe Sydney, I didn’t take any photos. This time I will make sure I take photo of everything.
Cafe Sydney captures the essence of Sydney from its amazing location on the rooftop of Customs House with spectacular harbour views, delicious food, an outdoor terrace, cocktail lounge and a relaxed, contemporary interior.
Leading the passionate team is seasoned executive chef, Sarahjane Brown. With a commitment to sourcing the freshest and the best produce in season, Sarahjane utilises locally sourced produce across all areas of the continually evolving contemporary menu, delivery a dining experience that is unique.
Let me just apologise for the poor quality in terms of lighting for these food photos as we were seated on the veranda overlooking the harbour. And the lighting has been purposely kept low so that folks inside the restaurant can also enjoy the harbour view.
Once seated and orders for drinks and food put in, the first complimentary snack was served. The marinated olives made the cocktails go down that much quicker.
And then the bread for the table was served. Tonight it was some kind of pita bread served with a harissa roasted eggplant side. The pita was thin and drizzled with olive oil, but it was the eggplant that stole the show.
Cafe Sydney’s Crustacean Platter was something to look forward to. I used to eat one of these 2-tier chilled seafood tower on my own (as appetiser, main and dessert), but it is good to be shared among 3-4 persons too. Oh feel my reluctance!
On the platter of crushed ice were 6 Pacific oysters, 3 Morton Bay bugs cut into 6 halves, 3 blue swimmer crabs, 6 shelled tiger prawns, a marron and 3 scampis. Marron is a native species from Western Australia and tasted similar to the rock lobster, but I think it is sweeter and, in my opinion, nicer.
The crustaceans were naturally sweet and so the condiements (mayonnaise, cocktail sauce, lemon) did not matter so much.
Besides the Crustacean Platter, we ordered three appetisers to share.
Twice cooked goat cheese souffle, poached quince, parmesan, chervil, red vein sorrel
I would have mistaken it as a dessert if not for the savoury taste of this appetiser. Quince is an aromatic bright golden-yellow pome fruit, similar in appearance to a pear. It is usually poached before consuming because of its sharpness. The twice-cooked goat cheese soufflé was almost like a pancake with an extremely light and fluffy centre. It was served in a creamy, cheesy sauce served with sweet poached quince, and topped with chervil (French parsley), red vein sorrel and shaved parmesan cheese.
Cured kingfish, cucumber & apple salsa, buttermilk dressing, shiso cucumber salt, tobiko roe
The kingfish was cured with lemon to give it that “cooked” look. The cured kingfish was served swimming in a buttermilk dressing, it was topped with tobiko (flying fish roe), cucumber and apple salsa, and seasoned with shiso cucumber salt. It was very refreshing, with the acidity from the salsa and the ceviche taste from the lemon and buttermilk.
It was supposed to be simple, but beef carpaccio was something I have not dared to try in my home kitchen. Because beef is so dense, it has a less likelihood to be contaminated by bacteria like salmonella. However, let’s leave it to these professionals. The beef carpaccio was made with Black Angus loin and dressed with capers, aioli and truffle oil and served with rocket lettuce and shaved parmesan cheese. Delicious.
I seldom order fish in a Western restaurant because the methods of cooking fish are usually limited to grilling, poaching, baking, deep frying and never steaming the fish whole, which is the way I love for fresh fish. Unfortunately more than half of the main course were fish. So I picked the only one that would try.
John Dory, roast chicken sauce, oyster mushroom, fresh pea, parsley oil
John Dory, also known as St Pierre or Peter’s fish, is a saltwater fish. I picked this because it was not often you get fresh John Dory in Singapore. It was grilled to perfectly, and served on a delicious roast chicken sauce made from the dripping from roasting chicken, which strangely was not found on the menu. I had not expected that these two would match so well. The sauce was enhanced with oyster mushroom and fresh green peas. A refreshing parsley oil was drizzled onto the fish for added measure.
Chermoula cauliflower steak, almond cream, crisp eggplant, sumac, lemon
The vegetarian in our group picked something from the Vegan menu, a menu that we did not even bother to look at. But when it was served, we immediately had plate envy. Chermoula (pronounced sher-moo-lah) is a North African marinade made from parsley, garlic, lemon and spices. And it really made the simple cauliflower tasted great.
Humpty Doo barramundi, leek, caper lemon burnt butter, sea herb
And there were a couple of orders of barramundi, which we called a sea bass in our part of the world. Humpty Doo barramundi is farmed Australian sea bass from Northern Territories. And they said it’s great eats.
A healthy side of broccoli, French bean, cauliflower blossom and herb butter, which no one touched because the mains were good enough on their own.
We did not share our mains as there was still the pandemic going on around us. But we were really thankful to be able to gather and share a meal in this beautiful evening on the terrace of Custom House.
If you need better photos, the best time to come is actually the lunch service.
Level 5 Customs House, 31 Alfred St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Tel : +61 2 9251 8683
Visited in Aug 2022