Friday, April 17, 2009

A Day with the Kids at Sydney Tower Restaurant

Okay, from the start it wasn't about the food, having been a couple of times before, I knew the buffet would be pretty ordinary, it was all about showing a couple of kids what Sydney looked like from 300 metres up in the air and introducing them to their first revolving restaurant! Hey, if you're 7 and 4 it's a rite you have to go through in this family, hehe.

Given the times, we had to go through a metal detector to enter the lift to the restaurant, a couple of us set the alarm off with our collection of cameras, mobile phones, keys and other metallic paraphernalia. The attendants joked about bombs and inspected our handbags but still let us through!

And the view was worth it, looking at the rooftops of buildings we'd visited or worked in and seeing how green Sydney is after the recent rain, as well as the fun of watching the kiddies test that, yes, the floor was REALLY moving.

Having read all about how to behave at buffets, courtesy of NQN's Buffet 101 I knew to avoid the carbs and other fillers first. Here's how the restaurant managers want you to think the food's supposed to look like - peruse the images above the buffet area!

And what I collected was seafood-centric of course to get the best value for money, at $49.50 per adult head you'd want to make sure you were fully satisfied. Although we did get a $5 discount voucher each from a nice man handing them out at the entrance of what used to be the Centrepoint shopping centre, it's undergoing renovations at the moment and is a building site.

Service was friendly and helpful, admittedly there weren't a lot of customers to compete with, the restaurant being only about a quarter full and they were mostly tourists.

The buffet items were poorly labelled so you had to search a bit to see what you were helping yourself to. No problem in recognising big containers of oysters and prawns, although I had a small helping of what was called marinated chilli squid which was spicy but tough.

The pickled vegetables were very flavourful and wonderfully crunchy but oversalted, strangely, green olives in the mix tasted as if they'd been washed before being added. The oysters were okay but didn't taste particularly fresh, the prawns however were the standout item - not salty at all and had a very sweet plumpness to them. There seems to be a dob of what turned out to be babaganoush (eggplant dip) on my plate that was available in the salad area, not sure what it was suppose to accompany but it was a tad salty.

I'm afraid my appetite wasn't at all stimulated by the hot foods, there was a range of roasted meats, some tired looking roast beefs, hams and lamb and one poor lump of what was purported to be kangaroo which looked like it'd been sitting in the campfire for about a week it was so overcooked. Accompanying this was a tray of dry looking roast vegetables. Sorry no photos but frankly I couldn't be bothered.

I chose instead, a small tasting selection of what I thought might be appetising. As you can see, it wasn't much. Avoided the greasy and wan looking dim sum, which E said was full of some vegetarian filler, avoided the teriyaki chicken which looked like a stew, and the spring rolls and the pasta salad and the...oh never mind.
I ended up getting a little white rice with some Thai yellow curry sauce, some butter chicken sauce ( I can't stand the meat that comes with them, usually very stringy bits of chicken breast cooked to death) 2 small Arancini balls (leftover balls of risotto dipped in crumbs and deep fried), a couple of pappadams and added some mango chutney and raita drizzled strategically over an onion bhaji. Hmm, does there appear to be an Indian theme happening here? There were also 2 tiny wagyu sausages which were the prize pick of the day I think, apart from the succulent prawns. Maybe I just like sausages but these were simple yet flavourful and didn't taste like they were full of fillers.
I liked them so much I went back and got another one and stuffed it into a mini breadroll to make a sandwich! No tomato sauce available, only HP, Tabasco, sweet chilli and soy sauce so I just enjoyed the roll and sausage by itself.

Dessert was also uninspiring, a small selection of tarts and mini lamingtons (that and the kangaroo were the only menu items which shouted "Australian"), two different types of custard filled profiteroles - as you can see in the photo, the strawberry flavoured custard one was iced to look like a lamington, very strange.
There were small cubes of brownies and every now and again, tubs of vanilla gelato (which tasted very gritty as if it had been stored at the wrong temperature for too long) would appear. The fruit salad was chilled and had some nice pieces of pineapple but the watermelon was tired looking and the honeydew cubes were not ripe whereas the rockmelon was overipe. Don't even talk to me about the coffee. I went to Starbucks for a frappuccino afterwards.

But as I said, today wasn't about the food, it was about the company and giving kids on holiday a little treat to remember. I think we managed to achieve that. Racing around the circumference of the dining area without interference from the staff was certainly memorable and the kids learnt that in a circle, if you keep going, you eventually end up where you started!


  1. I agree the view is the main attraction at this buffet. I had hoped it had gotten better but it sounds like it hasn't. Still, good on you for finding the gems amongst it like the Wagyu sausages (and they didn't have tomato sauce? That's so "unaustralian"! :P )

  2. Yes NQN, I was shocked too at the sauce debacle! It's sad that some of our overseas visitors won't go home with a good impression of how good Australian food can be.