Have you heard of a staycation? It’s where you take a holiday in your own city. It’s genius. You get that free ‘I’m on holiday’ feeling without all the luggage. Literally. But if you can’t afford an overnight stay (both time wise and dollars wise) then a Dinnercation (yep, we just made that up #dinnercation #copyright) will do the trick. First stop, The Gantry.
The Gantry at Pier One (formerly The Sebel Pier One) is your ticket to an out-of-town experience while staying close to home. In true hotel style, the minute your taxi arrives out the front someone is there to open you car door and welcome you inside. As you enter the industrial chic lobby, hold off on veering left towards The Gantry. The cocktail bar is calling your name. Pull up a stool and take in the hotel’s vibe (lobbies are some of the best places for people watching) or step outside with your drink in hand and feel your stresses float away as you stare off over the harbour. This is when that holiday feeling starts to kick in. Even before you take your first sip.
Alright, by now those cocktails have gone down a treat and it’s time to line your stomach with fresh seafood paired with serious quality produce. Now you may enter The Gantry.
The decor is sophisticated but not pretentious. The original historical 1912 structure has been given the respect it deserves but has been zooshed only where needed to keep the space modern and in matching with the standard of the food you’ll find on your plate.
We could just tell you that head chef is Chris Irving, as in ex-Gordon Ramsay, cooked for the Queen chef and leave it at that. Obviously the food is good here. Our top notch produce is what drew Chris Irving to Australia and you’ll see it shine on every dish at The Gantry. The fresh seafood display shows you they mean business when you walk into the restaurant. Like the look of that lobster? No worries, he’s yours for the picking. But might we also tempt you with the Balmain bugs or the Queensland king prawns grilled with garlic butter? They’re on the must-try list.
Since you’re on ‘dinnercation’ don’t skimp on the courses. You’ve had your seafood now for another round of starters. The Venison tartare is a hero while the Gantry gravlax is an unexpected flavour punch. Or you could just continue the seafood theme and get the Spanner crab with green apple, raddish, bergamot and sorrel. You won’t be disappointed.
For mains the decisions get even harder. Do you get the Jumjum muscovy duck (Jumjum is where the duck’s from – it’s not some weird new flavour just FYI) with a zingy citrus glaze, the Cone Bay barramundi with their signature rosemary chats, or, if you really want to know what we’d get, them you can’t beat the Petuna sea trout. Oh. My. God. Crispy skin, perfectly cooked and oh so fresh. If you were smart enough to bring a big group then you have to get the 24-hour slow cooked Mirrool Creek lamb shoulder and order up big with the sides: beetroot homefries, the Tarwin blue, fig and prosciutto, plus farm vegetables should do the trick.
Special mention must go to dessert. There’s only four things to choose from, but that doesn’t make it any easier. They’re all exceptional but the definite standout is the fresh Austral figs with white chocolate mousse, thyme and Riesling. Just trust us on this one. Pair it with a dessert wine and you’ve finished your night on a high note.
Don’t want the night to end? Good thing this place has rooms for rent.
Pier One, 11 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay NSW 2000
Open daily: Lunch, 12pm – 2.30pm; Dinner, 6pm – 10pm
02 8298 9910
Photos: The Gantry