To an extent, the prestige of a restaurant is built on more than just the quality of the food or wine. Factor in the gentle lighting, attentive waiters, impeccably presented menus inside leather pouches, racks upon racks of high quality wine and the Sydney Opera House a convenient glimpse out the ceiling-to-wall window and I am reluctant to classify the whole The Dining Room (Park Hyatt) experience as entirely negative, especially as an inexperienced restaurant-goer whose first experience there was far from conventional.
I doubt the waiters are used to seeing too many toddlers.
Considering the pricepoint, however, I suppose expectations for an exceptional experience is justified, but I have to be honest - the food, ultimately, was a bit of a hit and miss. There were standouts and there were dishes that, while high quality in terms of ingredients, were ultimately fairly average dishes.
Note: I've attempted to find the proper names of the dishes from The Dining Room's online menu, but they have changed the menu since September when I went. Perhaps thankfully, most of the poorer dishes are no longer on the menu. Unfortunately, this means my review is slightly out of date and I will only be able to give the dishes unofficial names.
Sydney rock oysters: I do not enjoy eating oysters but I figured if I was going to eat one, it may as well be at the Park Hyatt. Having no reference to previous experiences, I cannot compare the taste, but it did taste fresh.
They provided this bread with the oysters - it was vaguely savoury but mostly plain and unexpectedly dense. Interesting texture.
The crispy pressed pork shoulder, unfortunately, was the first mistake. The sauce was vaguely berry-and-tomato flavoured, tangy-sweet and really cut through the heaviness of the fried textures. The pork had the consistency of dry mince in the middle, which ended up mixing with the fried batter and tasted very...basic. The white sauce was foamy but there was not enough of it
The marron tail was a much better choice of entree, though it was a very small portion. The sauces had a vivid, buttery taste and the tail was very soft despite also being chewy
This was the local burrata, assorted tomatoes, aged balsamic, which I was told tasted very lovely
The french fries were soft (which seems improbable given their appearance), but seasoned well. I have to single out the mashed potato, which was incredibly creamy and fine. One of the best I've tasted.
This was duck cooked both ways...I don't believe this is the duck dish on the menu right now and I can't quite remember what it was called. The fried duck leg and wing sections were beautifully seasoned and well fried but the portion of duck at the bottom had an incredibly thick layer of fat that was very chewy, soft skin (instead of crispy as I was expecting) and, overall, it was hard to work through. I ended up just eating the lean meat towards the last half of my portion because it was just too rich and also hard to chew.
The wagyu sirloin was beautifully cooked but poorly presented (I'm surely not the only one feeling like the plating person had forgotten an element right?). The mushroom sauce at the top was beautiful but one was left wanting because of how little sauce there was.
This was a berry cheesecake, though it didn't really come across as such. The biscuit and berry base was spongy - I would have preferred a crunchier texture.
The strawberry pot was a smorgasbord of sponge cake, cream and berry rhubarb, which was predictably sweet, if predictable, and a little bit too similar in terms of texture. The crunchy sweet balls were a nice counterpoint to all the gooey-ness.
This chocolate dessert was a standout. The base was very brownie-like and the textures were wonderful - from the smoothness of the tempered chocolate to the biscuit and mousse topping and the shock of ice-cream induced coldness.
The pistachio brownie with dark chocolate and orange sauce was lovely. The brownie did not really have a pistachio-like taste, but the dark chocolate was extremely rich, vivid in flavour and almost mousse-like. The burst of tangy orange sauce was great as a counterbalance.
Would I go to The Dining Room again? Perhaps if I am invited again or when I make enough money to justify the cost.
While the experience was, on the whole, mostly positive, I believe I will probably focus on saving up for other restaurants in Sydney before I return to this one.