There is a dining revival happening in Sydney. We can’t spend our hard earned dollars on travel, so other than saving for a house (aka shoebox) what is there to do? Many of us are upscale dining. Using our $$$ for better wine, a market price fish or going to a destination restaurant which has always been on that list.
It’s timely that SETA has opened. It’s big, it’s beautiful and heart stoppingly, get-your-Manolo-Blahnik-out-of-it’s-box gorgeous. In terms of design, if Rockpool Bar & Grill had an affair with Alpha it’s would be SETA.
A former bank has been transformed. Four golden marble columns stretch majestically skyward whilst elegant chandeliers illuminate wine walls and the honey glow of the entrance bar is a contrast to moody dark woods. Michael McCann (Mr Wong, Felix, Flying Fish) and veteran restaurateur, Tonči (Wildfire) have reimagined old world glamour. They say that you eat with your eyes, well we are all ready full and satisifed without a single bite.
In Japan a seat at the chef’s bar would be the most revered place to sit, yet Australian dining often rejects this price perch. Seta Sydney celebrates it. We take our position on a buttercup yellow leather high chair and settle in.
It’s a big team. There are more tweezers here than in a beauty parlour. The chefs are expertly laying petals, leaves and all manor of mini but mighty flavoured items. It’s like watching a someone paint a masterpiece.
Those who love sparkling wine are in for a treat. There is a dedicated section to Ferrari Trento, sparkling wine established in 1902 in Italy’s northern regions. We try the Brut and the Rosé . Fine bead, soft autolease and balance of structure and fruit make this a perfect back drop to the food about to unfold.
We do like to judge a restaurant on its attention to bread. Fourteen dollars will get you a basket. It’s a jumble of sun tanned focaccia drizzled in olive oil, whispy breadstick wands and sourdough made in-house. Three butters (brown, cime di rapa and truffle) along with a saucer of olive oil and two designer salts send us a big mesage. Care is in the house.
Kingfish crudo is a citrus puddle of glossy slices dotted with wafers of baby tunip. Antipasti is a swoosh of peeled king (but small) prawns, celery, lettuce, dotted with minature cubes of lardo and battons of apple. It looks like a retro prawn cocktail, but lacks star power and for $36 there are arguably more impressive tastes on the menu.
The pasta and risotto section is a masterpiece. One look over at our neighbours table and our order is easy! A sea of grass green (cime di rapa) risotto crowned with raw smashed prawn meat, grapefruit gel and dabs of black garlic is perfection, creamy, tender bite and balance of acidity. It’s the kind of dish you want to pick up and lick the plate, thank goodness for the
focaccia ! The gnocchi is a generous bowl of sturdy nuggets in a flavour-bomb with blue swimmer crab bisque and a touch of chilli.
For mains we opt for the fish of the day. Our grilled Murray Cod is wheeled on a trolley as a sea of diners eyes follow the drama. It’s expertly filleted and plated having been given the respect this beauty deserves, both in cooking and serving.
Executive Chef, Giovanni Astolfoni presides over the kitchen, an Italian conductor who knows how to create a masterpiece. It’s theatre, its art, its a spectacular production. It’s also fine dining with an elegance and sophistication that could come close to breaking the bank (but you are already in one), however, definitely worth it.
11 Barrack Street CBD Sydney 2000 NSW
Hours: Lunch Tuesday – Friday 12 pm – 3 pm.
Dinner; Tuesday – Friday 6 pm – 10:30 pm, Saturday 5:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Bar; Tuesday – Friday 12 pm – 12 am, Saturday 5:30 pm – 12 am