Cruise Bar has had a makeover and we love the addition of Junk Lounge
There may not have been any naked ladies sprawled across our table, sparingly covered in bananas, when we dined at Cruise Bar… but there was plenty to get excited about. The landmark Circular Quay venue recently reopened after closing for a year of renovations. The result of which is three levels of interior transformations, new menus and Junk Lounge, a new restaurant on the second floor.
Enter the ground floor, a garden-style space filled with greenery, hanging plants and hints of nautical décor. On a nice day, this is a great harbour side alternative to an often over-crowded – Opera Bar. Here the food focuses on European style dishes including charcuterie and seafood platters. Share dishes amongst friends or order a more substantial main, such as the baby snapper fillets or pork cutlets. They also offer cocktail carafes, local beer and wine.
On this occasion we head straight upstairs to the second floor known as Junk Lounge, named after Hong Kong harbour’s traditional vessels. The oriental bar, is equipped with sleek, sophisticated décor and eye-catching murals by world famous urban artist Fin DAC.
Junk Lounge recently received worldwide publicity for their launch event, at which two naked models lay on the long communal table covered in nothing but banana bunches and other edible produce. So we’re surprised how quiet it is on a balmy Wednesday night. It does mean we get to move around, starting with cocktails at the copper-topped bar.
We love the cocktails at Junk Lounge, most of which have Asian flavour influences. The Kung Pao Sabra ($18) made with West Winds Gin, mandarin, mango, lime, sichuan peppercorn and shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7 spice mix) is a refreshing combination of smooth, sweet mango with a kick from the shichimi coated rim. For some light and easy drinking, we suggest the Aloe Geisha made with Pampero Especial, Robot Ninja ‘Junmai Ginjo’, Sake, aloe vera and sake, cherry bitters, lemon balm, lime and egg white topped with pretty edible flowers.
With cocktails in hand we take a seat at the long 24-seat communal dining table, sans naked ladies. Head Chef Richard Slarp has worked for some of Sydney’s top restaurants such as Est and Saké Restaurant & Bar. He also worked at Food Society in Darlinghurst when it first opened.
We start with some edamame with green tea salt ($5) and lotus root chips with a spicy yuzu salsa ($9) both are great drinking snacks though the root chips are a little too salty for us.
The fresh prawn and avocado rice paper roll with pickled chilli dressing ($7.50 each) are light and fresh, an easy addition to your build-your-own banquet. We also really enjoy the Malay chicken satay skewers cooked on the robata grill ( $9 for 3 per serve).
The ‘bacon and eggs on toast’ ($7 each) misses the mark for us. Three quail eggs wrapped in pancetta, toasted katsu breadcrumbs topped with kewpie mayo sounds interesting and looks great, but is quite challenging- texturally . The quail eggs are very rubbery and the way the yolk squirts into your mouth as you take a bite is unpleasant.
Skip that and order the Hainan chicken and rice with chilli, ginger and crispy onions ($36). For us, this is the stand out dish on the menu. The chicken is cooked perfectly and is full of flavour. Order a side of greens and enjoy a bowl of broth afterwards. We just love this dish.
Desserts are quite limited with only two options including a sesame ball with split bean, coconut and caramel ($8) and the chocolate and green tea doriyaki ($6).
Instead of dessert try another cocktail, take a seat in the front lounge and appreciate in one of Sydney’s most stunning views of the harbour.
We love the new look and feel of Cruise Bar and can’t wait to drink and dine here again soon.
If you’re planning an event, the third-level area, The Deck is a large function area. We’re told it’s perfect for from product launches, corporate events, weddings and more.