Nov 20, 2017
If you eat with your eyes first, you’re in for a treat at these restaurants that serve spectacular views.
New South Wales
ICEBERGS DINING ROOM AND BAR
There are few more arresting views than the one from Icebergs, perched as it is over the golden-blond sands of Sydney’s Bondi Beach. Grab an aperitivo in the bar then hit the dining room – awash with green, blue and white to mimic nature beyond the windows – and soak up a most memorable experience. The menu relies on amazing produce and the best technique to let it shine. And shine it does. Start with oysters and an array of cured meats, wild-boar cacciatorini being the pick. Fusilli with Crystal Bay prawns lands lathered in spicy Amatriciana sauce, while the 500-gram, 150-day-grain-fed Black Angus rib eye arrives with a multitude of condiments.
1 Notts Avenue, Bondi Beach; (02) 9365 9000
PILU AT FRESHWATER
Sit back and savour the alluring ripples of deep blue kissing the shoreline at Freshwater Beach while the team at Pilu delivers sophisticated Sardinian classics and Italian-inspired contemporary culinary treats, along with one of the most comprehensive wine lists in Sydney. Housed in a heritage-listed beach house, Pilu showcases the best of past and present in a sun-drenched space worked by some of the most professional waitstaff. With a choice of dégustation or à la carte, you can have your own Italian experience. Hiramasa kingfish is cured with mirto liqueur and served with sheep’s-milk yoghurt and juniper, while ’nduja adds spice to delicate cuttlefish-ink tonnarelli. The signature slow-roasted suckling pig is arguably the best in the country so make sure you save room for it.
Moore Road, Freshwater; (02) 9938 3331
Dining at Quay, with its panoramic views of Sydney Harbour and the “nuns in a scrum” (Sydney Opera House), has to be among the most glorious food experiences. Quay has been on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list many times – and not just for the scintillating outlook. Thanks to executive chef Peter Gilmore’s innate connection to local produce and innovative technique, his expression of contemporary Australian cuisine is nothing short of astounding. Smoked eggplant and fermented black barley underpin ruby-red raw Flinders Island wallaby. Slivers of blacklip abalone and pearl oyster star in a delicate congee, while a smoked bone broth adds depth to rich poached Wagyu. And the signature Snow Egg is as memorable as the view.
Upper level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks; (02) 9251 5600
By Anthony Huckstep
NAKED IN THE SKY
The only thing more improbable than the name is the location: a glass-walled rooftop terrace above Fitzroy’s linear flatness, where stonking views attract a young crowd like seagulls to a chip. Booking the restaurant – really a loosely corralled area next to the bar – means you’re guaranteed a seat but there are plenty of snacky reasons on the Basque- focused menu to pull up a pew. Start with charcuterie, such as jamón Ibérico de bellota, and pintxos (pieces of bread laden with white anchovies or pickled green peppers) then go deeper with paprika-dusted grilled octopus or confit duck leg with morcilla (blood sausage). The drinks list is heavy on Spanish drops, backed by a range of vodkas that would make Boris Yeltsin blush.
285 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy; (03) 9416 2238
One of Melbourne’s most mesmerising sights is the ebb and flow of commuters at Flinders Street Station. The human traffic wandering across Princes Bridge is pretty diverting as well. And the sun going down over the Yarra River? Priceless. It’s a show best enjoyed from a ringside seat at Taxi Kitchen with a spicy Sichuan lamb bun to hand. Chef Tony Twitchett has successfully liberated this urban playground from its fine-dining past with a menu that plays to the new paradigm of snacks and sharing. Try fat prawn dumplings in Sichuan broth or just-seared tuna with pickled ginger, wasabi and shichimi pepper. But you might want to keep the braised beef cheek, rich with lardons and red-wine jus, to yourself.
Transport Hotel, Federation Square, Melbourne; (03) 9654 8808
Dining on level 35 of the Sofitel, high above the “Paris end” of Collins Street, with skyscrapers on three sides and sweeping views out to the bay, the urban jungle rarely looked so elegant. This restaurant rises to the occasion with clackety marble floors, plush red chairs and all the accoutrement of the good life just an attentive waiter away. No35 defies the typical hotel-restaurant brief. It’s a destination for both locals and tourists, thanks to a two-speed menu that can coddle with classicism (whole flounder with beurre noisette, capers and lemon; braised beef with truffled pomme purée) and bust out the vibrant, modern moves (cured kingfish anointed with apple jelly, crème fraîche and salmon roe).
Sofitel Melbourne on Collins, 25 Collins Street, Melbourne; (03) 9653 7744
By Larissa Dubecki
JOLLEYS BOATHOUSE RESTAURANT
Behold the secret life of ducks and other creatures – including sweaty joggers – while you sit beside the still waters of the River Torrens. Diners are shielded from the huffing and puffing – but not the view – by floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides of the restaurant. Start with freshly shucked Angasi oysters from Coffin Bay before moving on to other entrées such as steamed Goolwa pipis or caramelised pork belly with green papaya. Don’t tell your new feathered friends that one of chef Tony Carroll’s best dishes is tea-smoked duck, currently served with red dates, tamarind and ginger caramel and stir-fried Asian greens. It never leaves the menu.
1 Jolleys Lane, Adelaide; (08) 8223 2891
THE LANE VINEYARD
Sit on the deck at this winery restaurant and there’s nothing between you and cabernet sauvignon vineyards and one of the best country views in the Adelaide Hills. Inside, the wall of surrounding windows does nothing to lessen the impact. It’s tough competition for longstanding head chef James Brinklow, who provides the sort of sophisticated menu that now seems de rigueur at topnotch wineries. It covers a lot of ground, from black pudding Scotch egg with garlic purée and Suffolk lamb tartare with kimchi to kangaroo tail with sprouted grains and ricotta gnudi with charred leeks. Brinklow also runs a chef’s table that offers seven courses and includes barrel tastings of fresh wines when available. Set aside the entire afternoon.
5 Ravenswood Lane, Hahndorf; (08) 8388 1250
By Nigel Hopkins
This is Brisbane’s most aesthetically pleasing dining destination, with ever-changing exhibitions in the adjacent art gallery and walls of glass affording spectacular views of the city and river. But the food is arguably the most remarkable aspect, taking inspiration from the creative surroundings. Pristine produce is transformed into dishes such as flame snapper with buffalo haloumi, pistachio and desert lime, while some have titles reminiscent of artworks, including After the Eucalypt Fire (emu, beetroot, rosella, eucalyptus) and Billabong (eel, watercress, onions, sorrel, beef). Allow the story of each dish to unfold during a five- or nine-course dégustation. The dot-painting-inspired wattleseed custard dessert has become a popular finale for good reason.
QAGOMA, Stanley Place, South Bank, Brisbane; (07) 3842 9916
This is contemporary fine dining with a distinctly Queensland feel. Sit on the breezy deck overlooking the city and the Goodwill Bridge as waves lap at the banks of the Brisbane River below. The crisp white décor is offset by warm timber tones and the food, wine and service are just as stylish. The Paroo kangaroo tartare with earthy rye-fried onion, chermoula and radish is a great place to start. There’s plenty of local seafood but the roast beetroot tart is a surprising star, with delicate slices of beetroot arranged atop a pastry sphere, complemented by malt-beer caramel, black garlic purée, chèvre and oregano. The appropriately fruit-focused dessert menu includes whipped yoghurt with Japanese lemon gelato, roasted white chocolate and zingy dried lime.
Sidon Street, South Bank, Brisbane; (07) 3020 0600
By Morag Kobez
Perth’s State Buildings precinct doesn’t have a bad-looking bone in its body but as far as photo ops go, its rooftop showpiece, Wildflower, is hard to beat. From the grand reveal of St George’s Cathedral to close-ups of the city skyline, there’s enough to fill your camera with a week’s worth of social media fodder. Then there are Jed Gerrard’s artfully arranged plates – an edible homage to the ingredients and traditions of Australia. Blue swimmer crab and finger limes are concealed by bullseyes of daikon and peach, perfumed with eucalyptus, while marron is teamed with a rich brown butter sauce to thrilling effect. Polished service, meanwhile, befits the restaurant’s fine-diner status.
1 Cathedral Avenue, Perth; (08) 6168 7855
The tables outside this seaside canteen might well be the best seats in Perth (doubly so if your bathers are wet from a pre-prandial swim). Norfolk Island pines and the Indian Ocean’s captivating blue hues add an appealing Aussie accent to Il Lido’s breezy brand of cucina Italiana. Here’s a plate of excellent salumi. There’s a salad of grilled cuttlefish and soft herbs. The buttery clams strewn with thickly cut lardons encapsulate all that’s great about Il Lido, while the handmade pastas are as dependable as co-owner and sommelier Dan Wegener’s deep dive into Italian vino. The daily offer of breakfast, lunch and dinner makes it easy to hit your weekly quota for la dolce vita.
88 Marine Parade, Cottesloe Beach; (08) 9286 1111
By Max Veenhuyzen
PEE WEE’S AT THE POINT
Pee Wee’s at the Point is an all-round sensory experience. What you see is magnificent: the sinking sun gilding the sea; Darwin’s city lights glimmering across the bay; perhaps a hermit crab skittering across the pavers. So is the smell, feel and sound of salty air on the breeze. Which brings us to taste. Dishes are focused on seafood and local produce, such as the entrée of crab, cured mackerel and pearl meat or what some hail as the best saltwater barramundi they’ve eaten – wild-caught then oven-baked. The 50 Shades of Chocolate dessert is deservedly popular. Note that Pee Wee’s will close in January and February to expand its deck and bar and change its roof, further opening up that view.
Lot 5775, Alec Fong Lim Drive, East Point Reserve, Darwin; (08) 8981 6868
By Sam McCue
Australian Capital Territory
THE BOAT HOUSE
From its tranquil location on Lake Burley Griffin’s East Basin, The Boat House looks out over Kings Avenue Bridge, the National Carillon on Aspen Island and the neon-blue of Warren Langley’s Touching Lightly tower at Canberra Glassworks. As the occasional boat passes by, settle in with a Mount Majura pinot noir, enjoy some of the capital’s finest food and marvel at the impeccable service. Where to start? It’s a tough choice between the Fremantle octopus with squid-ink sauce, shiso and roast cauliflower and the coffee- cured duck breast. End with the theatrical flourish of the Majura honey mousse – coated in chocolate, accompanied by a dollop of salted pear sprayed with whisky and topped with honey “caviar” – complete with misty wisps floating off the frozen sheep’s milk.
Grevillea Park, Menindee Drive, Barton; (02) 6273 5500
THE CONSERVATORY RESTAURANT
Prepare to be dazzled – first by the light from the panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows then by the food. Situated in a corner of the Village Centre’s cathedral-like building, its soaring ceiling crisscrossed with magnificent beams of Tasmanian oak, The Conservatory Restaurant has 180-degree views over the arboretum’s forests, Lake Burley Griffin and Parliament House in the distance. Jag a window table but be prepared for executive chef Janet Jeffs (who can forget the silver service at The Ginger Room in Old Parliament House?) to redirect your gaze with dishes such as rabbit pie, rich with mushroom, free-range bacon and chargrilled fennel, and a wine list featuring Canberra’s finest. A match made in heaven is crisp-skin Atlantic salmon with Ingelara potato mash, Tuscan kale and tarator sauce paired with Joshua’s Fault rosé.
Village Centre, National Arboretum Canberra, Forest Drive, Weston Creek; (02) 6130 0173
By Diana Streak
THE GLASS HOUSE
At the end of a floating pier on Hobart’s waterfront, this elegant restaurant and bar has 280-degree water views and one of the most impressive beverage lists in town. Fresh oysters are served with Forty Spotted Gin and tonic, lime and cucumber, while Huon salmon sashimi is accompanied by hand-milked salmon pearls, wasabi and soy. The pan-fried and pickled Mount Rumney oyster mushrooms with sunchoke purée, shaved bonito, nori and confit garlic is a clever mashup of local and classic Japanese ingredients. For a heartier meal, there’s slow-cooked Flinders Island lamb shoulder or lightly seared grass-fed Cape Grim beef. Finish with a plate of award-winning Bay of Fires Cheese cloth-bound cheddar and Coal River Farm blue and triple-cream brie, plus the legendary Bruny Island Cheese Co. raw-milk C2 – all served with Willie Smith’s organic apples.
Brooke Street Pier, Franklin Wharf, Hobart; (03) 6223 1032
By Jo Cook
Photography credits: Nikki To (Quay); Shellie Froidevaux (No35)