You can bank on Eastbank
What is it about dining by Sydney Harbour that awakens your inner tourist, even if you’ve lived in Sydney your entire life? As we sat down at our table at Eastbank, the modern Italian restaurant in Circular Quay, I instantly whipped out my phone and start snapping pics of the amazing view ahead. There is something quite special about dining on this, albeit “touristy” strip of Circular Quay, surrounded by the glittering stars and yellow glow of high rise buildings overhead.
Eastbank has had a long history in Circular Quay, located in the lobby of the Quay Grand. Sit inside the busy restaurant, or do as we did, and take a seat outside under the stars perched by the harbour’s edge. It’s the perfect people watching spot in one of Sydney’s most transient parts of town.
The restaurant combines both Australian and Italian heritage which is reflected in a menu they describe as “modern Australian with an Italian soul”. Expect more than just your local pizzeria, this is fine food, served with some modern flair and fun. They love their wine, just as much as their food with both Australian and Italian drops available.
As the waiter describes our first cocktail, of vodka, cranberry, cointreau, we stop. “Isn’t that a Cosmopolitan?” No it’s a “Cosmopolitano“, their cheeky take on Carrie Bradshaw’s signature drink. A drink using typical ingredients of vodka, cranberry, yet scented with Aperol, to bring out the Italiano within. The drink is a well-balanced mix of sweet and bitter and is a great way to start our Italian feast.
For entree, we indulged in their antipasto misto ($25), starring an assortment of Italian prosciutto, bresaola, mild salame, semi-dried tomato, feta cheese, marinated mushrooms, sicilian olives, and served with toasted bread. As we get to work on that amazing platter, our giant, juicy garlic prawns ($27.50), cooked in white wine, extra virgin olive oil and soaked in delicious fresh garlic arrived. These worked well with the Cape Barren Chardonnay (2014) from South Australia.
As always when eating Italian, it’s terribly difficult to pick between the pizza and the pasta. I’m a long-time picker of the pizza (quite frankly, i’ll devour anything with melted cheese). But after our entree dishes a whole pizza may have been pushing it.
Instead we shared their signature pasta dish – the linguine al fruitti di mare ($32.50), cooked in parchment paper. It’s a technique that can go catastrophically wrong (just watch that recent MKR episode) but everything was perfectly cooked on this occasion. As they opened the parchment in front of us steam wafted out, unleashing the amazing aromas from inside. A simple marinara mix of Tasmanian mussels, tiger prawns, clams, squid and market fish, were swimming in a spicy tomato sauce. Whilst the parchment paper was a nice idea it made eating the saucy linguine quite a chore, especially as we tried clumsily to scoop it out with the tongs provided.
The crispy skin duck breast ($38) was on the pricier side of the menu but perfectly cooked, succulent pieces of duck paired with crunchy snow peas and parsnip puree. The marinated figs, and a tasty sweet jus were a perfect compliment to the meal. We suggest pairing this with the 2013 Poliziano Chianti Classico Docg from the region of Chianti.
To finish we ordered the vanilla panna cotta ($12) served with a sugary, sweet berry compote. Our spoons glided through the fragile dessert that was light, fresh and creamy. A shot of limoncello sent a warm rush through our full stomachs ending a great night.
With so many great Italian restaurants in Sydney, Eastbank wasn’t necessarily at the top of our list to check out. Whilst we enjoyed Eastbank it is on the expensive side. And we get that with a view like that we should expect to pay a premium. That being said, if you are feeling peckish down Circular Quay way, good Italian food and wine is not something to turn down.
Eastbank Cafe Bar & Pizzeria
Ground Level, Quay Grand, 61-69 Macquarie Street Circular Quay
Mon – Sun: 11am-11pm