Whilst Darling Harbour is no rival for Vegas, Sydney’s first new-build, five star, international hotel in almost 20 years is right at home. Sofitel Darling Harbour has solid bragging rights, especially when you consider the iconic duo of The Champagne Bar and Atelier restaurant.
The lift doors open at floor 3 and the first thing that hits you is the smell of lobster bisque. It’s going to be hard to not like this place. Dorothy may have followed a brick road but your’s is a timber runway with a glass champagne wall landing you in a happy place full of Swarovski crystal net chandeliers, high tables and stunning views.
The Bar is expansive; big windows, flower displays, and oh my! The 800 strong wine list. Go no further than the signature 2009 vintage Louis Roederer in collaboration with artist Philippe Starck just $25 (yes, we will have another). This is a rare and limited creation, so drink up and enjoy with a bowl of crunchy school prawns and charcoal brioche sliders.
Skip back over the runway and enter Atelier. Inspired by Marseille in France, Nicolas Mercier (Director of F&B) has created a theatrical dining experience dotted with preparation stations; raw, grill and a fire engine red main kitchen which could grace the cover of Vogue Living.
Signature dishes are well signposted and it’s not hard to see why. A bowl of food art sits in front of you; a curvaceous king prawn, a single softly steamed mussel, a cluster of 8 green peas, an anchovy snail, 2 dots of saffron aioli and a puddle of salmon caviar. It’s almost too pretty to eat (you think) as seafood bouillabaisse stock is poured at the table.
Carpaccio is a layered circle of kangaroo slices, dotted with radish slices and a nori dressing. Mains from the grill include a spatchcock, with a choice of sauce (or all!) natural jus, café de Paris butter and romesco sauce. Muscovy Duck is perfectly cooked with celeriac puree and a burnt orange. Pair with tasty charred brussels. Whatever you do get the truffle mash, it’s harder than a tube of Pringles to stop.
A glamorous cheese trolley smoothly nudges up to our table as carvings of brie, cheddar and Roquefort are plated. If you want to dive in, the Crème Brulee is too convincing.
This is one glamorous spot, which isn’t too pretentious, isn’t too casual, it’s got Je ne sais quoi, something special which happens when all the ingredients of a great dining experience come together… with a bubble or two.
Atelier by Sofitel
Level 3 of Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour
12 Darling Drive, Darling Harbour