The Dining Room, led by esteemed chef James Viles, reminds us that restaurants inside luxury hotels are at the heart of Sydney’s dining scene.
While chic neighbourhood wine bars are taking over the city, we were recently reminded that some of Sydney’s best dining experiences can be found within our luxury hotels. Take Park Hyatt in The Rocks which offers 5-star accommodation, unrivalled Opera House views and The Dining Room at sea level, where you can expect an exceptional culinary experience helmed by Australian chef James Viles.
Viles has been celebrated in the industry for many years and awarded for his efforts in leading two Hatted restaurant Biota Dining in the Southern Highlands. The menu had a strong focus on seasonal and sustainable food, and it’s clear this ethos has been reincarnated into the menu at The Dining Room, earning the restaurant Hatted status last year.
Head Chef Brian O’Flaherty leads the kitchen, bringing with him a wealth of culinary experience from across the waters at Quay restaurant. Together with Viles, they’ve taken the cuisine inside the hotel to the next level offering a true reflection of Australian fare with a particular focus on locally sourced seafood.
The menu is constantly evolving to highlight hand-picked ingredients from Viles’ home farm and lesser-known native ingredients. You’ll find only the freshest produce from Australia’s prominent farming regions which you can view from a dry-ageing cabinet within the restaurant. It says a lot about their commitment to sustainability that they often pick their own ingredients and can tell you the fisherman who caught the fish on your plate. Chefs have an incredibly important role to play in connecting diners to the food they consume and the pair are leading by example.
We were pleased to see a fine list of Australian winemakers across the menu, as well as cocktails highlighting local distilleries including Hickson House & Brix. But before the sommelier picks a tipple to complement your tastes, you’ll be welcomed by a traditional bush tea which is a house blend of native flowers and local honey, perfectly setting the scene for the food that is about to come.
As you sit in The Dining Room with a grandeur aesthetic and front-row seats to sparkling harbour views, it’s easy to assume you’re in for a fine dining experience. While the restaurant ambience and quality of the food live up to that standard, the experience certainly remains approachable.
The menu is a la carte allowing guests to pick and choose their favourite dishes across six thoughtful sections: bites, cold + hot, over coals, market price, plants, to finish. The plating is well-considered and impressive to the eye while offering generous portions which is always appreciated.
The bites section offers a mix of creative and playful dishes with highlights including trout pastrami served on a bed of sunflower pound cake and ranch, School prawn katsu with bonito sauce, and crispy house-made truffle potato chips served with lashings of paleta and a bottle of hot sauce to use at your discretion. On the cold + hot section, we were impressed by Bonito sashimi which doesn’t regularly appear on Sydney menus, served with delicate flavours of nashi, shiso and roe.
There’s an entire section of meats cooked over the coals and each piece takes on the natural essence of the wood it’s cooked to produce a delicate, smoky flavour. The Dining Room’s signature is the BBQ Maremma duck sourced from Southern Tablelands in NSW, served with house-made condiments and your choice of size between a half or full portion. The market fish was perfectly cooked with pops of acidity from green tomato and grilled & pickled peppers.
Vegetarians will not be left out with inventive dishes across the menu including pumpkin served raw and cooked with Meridith fetta and grilled leeks straight off the coals with nut creme, raw peas and seaweed oil. For dessert, the fig leaf ice cream sanga with Davidson plum serves as a palate cleanser and a reminder that the chefs like to have a little fun in the kitchen. You’ll also enjoy complimentary wattleseed praline as the icing on the cake which is also served on the beds of all hotel guests.
Since the menu is seasonal, it’s unlikely two visits will present the same menu inviting you back on a regular basis to explore the best seasonal ingredients and produce, hand-selected by the chefs. From our visit to The Dining Room, we’re reminded that Sydney’s best dining experiences are right under our noses, hidden within Sydney’s luxury hotels.
The Dining Room also offers breakfast 7 days a week and lunch & dinner Tuesday – Sunday. Find out more here.