At the recent GQ awards QT Sydney proudly claimed the coveted title of ‘Boutique Hotel of the Year’ for the second consecutive year. They also recently retained their One Chefs Hat – again. Hurrah!
Amidst all this acclaim, we are returning to explore the evolution of Sean Connolly’s Gowings Restaurant as it launches their new summer menu. Sean designed, tested, cooked and created this menu. He then hands over the executive to the ‘other’ man behind the magic, Head Chef Stefano Mondonico, a Brazilian-born culinary maestro with a dash of Italian flair. Formerly at North Bondi Fish with Matt Moran, Stefano brings passion for local produce and a dedication to culinary perfection. Each bite from the new summer menu feels like a bearhug from this ridiculously handsome chef.
We start with a glass of Perrier Joulet. There is energy in this room, it feels good. The service is warm, knowledgeable and the team always brings QT sassiness. Head Sommelier Samantha Belt just oozes personality and smarts. This makes debates around which wine to taste next so much fun, especially considering their ‘wines under Coravin’ list – Lewin Estate Art Series Chardonnay is creamy, rich and has a lovely structure. Plumm glasses are matched with each wine varietal and poured at the table elevating the by the glass experience.
We skip ‘raw’ and commence with the ‘snack’ section. A plate of stracciatella (the best oozy bits from a burrata) is dotted with spring vegetables and herb oil. This dish screams summer on a plate – so fresh, so creamy, so perfect.
Baccala on most menus would be imported from Europe. Sean rejected this option, instead he sources blue eye cod from Australia. What the menu won’t tell you is that it’s cured inhouse for 5-seven days, dry aged for five and then it can be kept for up to 3 months. At Gowings it never lasts that long! So here we are looking at a scaffolding of radish tiles over the top of the salt cod. It’s been rehydrated and cooked with potatoes giving it a secret silky smooth texture. The Crostini act as mini shovels to scoop up the soft flesh. What a stunning dish.
Grilled Spencer Gulf prawn saltimbocca are taken to the next level with a belt of swordfish lardo, (something you might expect at Saint Peter). The swordfish belly has been dry aged, then the prawns are cooked in the pizza oven, add a splash of salsa verde and mint oil. Woah!
It’s a seafood lover’s delight when it comes to making a choice from the ‘handmade pasta’ section. Sweet prawns are encased in a green ‘verdi’ ravioli doused in a classic burnt butter & sage combo. A
majestic duo of WA Scampi are lounging on a velvety risotto of Vialone Nano rice sourced from the Veneto region. It has a shorter grain than the more commonly used arborio.
The only blip on an otherwise faultless meal is the house dry-aged Aylesbury duck breast with a glossy cavolo nero, citrus jus. The breast is served on the raw side (not quite quacking…), making it very chewy. However, it’s when things don’t go quite right that service comes into play – they don’t miss a beat and our second serve is still rare, but not as raw, so bear this in mind if your preference is medium.
We round off with a trolley full of divine cheeses each one with its own glass domed hat, wheeled to our table and sliced in front of us.
QT’s new summer menu is not only a love letter to Italy, it’s a celebration of the incredible seafood from Australian waters.
Gowings Bar and Grill, QT Hotel, 1/49 Market St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Monday – Friday: Lunch from 12pm til 3pm,Monday – Saturday: Dinner from 5.30pm til 10pm
Bar Monday: 5pm til late, Tuesday – Friday: 3pm til late, Saturday: 12pm til late
aOh!! Don’t miss the new menu at Parlour Restaurant on the ground floor – for a slice of Paris.