09 January 2010

Altitude Restaurant: Fine Dining at 36 Levels Above, The Rocks (4 Jan 2010)

Shangri-la Hotel
Level 36, 176 Cumberland Street, The Rocks NSW 2000

Bollinger for my Birthday

Continuing on from my pre dinner birthday cocktail next door at Blue Bar on 36 I was very spoilt with a surprise birthday dinner at Altitude which I remember has been visited by fellow bloggers like Not Quite Nigella, Pigged-Out and Here Comes The Food. It's been awarded a 1 Hat by the 2010 SMH Good Food Guide Awards and commands one of the best views of Sydney Harbour. I enjoy a glass of Bollinger Champagne for the first time and it's a great start on the palate along with the amuse-bouche of Potato and Leek Veloute with Lemon and Chive Chantilly. I also enjoy a glass of the 2008 Mahi Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough NZ. The Tortellini of Spanner Crab and Sea Scallops catches my eye on the menu and it's a real treat, perfectly cooked and tastes great. The Ceviche of Pink Snapper is well presented although I find the fish texture slightly too stringy and chewy for my liking — not sure if this is due to the type of fish.

For mains my order of Thilmere Duck Breast is very tasty and nicely tender and the Roasted Castricum Lamb is also good. It's nice to see the meals are quite generous in size and I probably could have done without the side of Buttered Mashed Potatoes as the mains were quite rich. Before desserts a complimentary dessert cleanser of Pineapple Pannacotta in a shot glass was served — I think I could have finished here because it was rather thick and rich and not as light as one would expect. My choice of the Valrhona Chocolate Pavé was served as my surprise birthday cake and is wickedly rich for the chocolate lover and nicely plated. The Emaux of Summer Berries on the other hand wasn't particularly enjoyed and I found the lemon curd just too overpowering on the taste buds to the rest of the plate — I was thinking a lemon sorbet might have been better suited. I don't want to be too critical but I think the presentation could have been better — it just seemed to be a bit all over the place and not particularly elegant.

Our male service waiter was friendly, young and eager to please but unfortunately there's still room for improvement as we noticed a couple of the neighbouring tables throughout the night weren't cleared of their dirty napkins and glasses for quite a while after diners had left. Also our glasses of water were never topped up during the night — I'd expect the service in fine dining restaurants to look out for this. Trying to grab the attention of the waitstaff for the bill was very frustrating too as we felt rather neglected and invisible towards the end of the night.

PROS: View (request window when booking)
CONS: Service should be better, neighbouring tables not cleared promptly
MUST TRY: Bollinger, Tortellini of Spanner crab and sea scallops
RATING: 1 Hat (2010 SMH Good Guide Awards)

Complimentary bread

NV Bollinger 'Special Cuvée' Champagne $32/glass

Amuse-bouche of Potato and Leek Veloute with Lemon and Chive Chantilly

2008 Mahi Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough NZ $13/glass

Tortellini of Spanner crab and sea scallops with peas, confit tomatoes and shellfish bisque $27

Ceviche of pink Snapper with avocado mousse, baby celery leaves and lime vanilla vinaigrette $27

Thilmere duck breast with potato gratin, braised endive and macerated prunes $40

Roasted and braised Castricum lamb with eggplant, white asparagus and Kefir cream $38

Buttered mashed potatoes with roasted garlic $10

Complimentary dessert cleanser Pineapple Pannacotta

Valrhona chocolate pavé wth espresso anglaise and bitter coulis $18

Emaux of summer berries, lemon curd and Tonka bean ice cream $18

Complimentary petit fours

2003 Château La Rame Sainte Croix du Mont Bordeaux, France $15/glass, 2006 De Bortoli 'Noble One' Botrytis Semillon Riverina NSW $15/glass

Entree menu

Mains and sides menu

Dessert and cheese menu

Afternoon and evening views of Sydney Harbour from window

Table setting and dining area

Noticed two neighboring tables not cleared for at least 30+ minutes

Our glasses of water unfortunately never refilled during the night


Shangri-la rises above The Rocks and Circular Quay


Anonymous said...

Hi Simon, Ah! It all comes to light! Ergo the blu review. Lucky you. I shared a bottle of Bolli with a friend last Sat for dinner - ah bliss! Re your notes on the restaurant, I too am forever baffled by the lacklustre service in most hotel restaurants. Apart from est. and Bilsons, they're all abysmal. You'd think that being attached to an hotel they'd be all the more vigilant and less gung-ho. Perhaps thats because they all hire them from agencies ... Who knows? Gobsmack'd

joey@FoodiePop said...

The tortellini looks great! As does the chocolate pave! I'm sold! Now I just need to find the time and the wherewithal ....

John said...

What a rich looking spread. My stomach is bulging just looking at your pics!

Simon Food Favourites said...

hi Gobsmack'd, i think some of the wait staff were quite junior and pretty new so possibly not too experienced. Nothing like the service I've received at est or Aria etc. It reminded me a bit like the service at Kables actually. Young and fresh out of hospitality school but I'm sure they've had some time in the industry already. Felt a bit like a training ground for new waiters. so when are you going to have your own blog? :-)

hi joey, definitely find the time for the scallops although i think the menu does change depending on season.

hi john, my stomach certainly was bulging a bit that night. thankfully i had an extra hole on the belt buckle :-)

YaYa said...

Happy Birthday Simon! That food looks amazing, especially the sculpted mashed potato - I don't think I've ever seen them shaped that way before!

Simon Food Favourites said...

hi yaya, i wonder how they do it. makes it look pretty special doesn't it. :-)

Ann said...

wow look at all that food for $282 *heart attack* lol. I like how the mash potato is layed. Very creative...love the presentations

Trissa said...

Too bad about the service! But other than that - the food does look amazing. Especially the tortellini - great way to celebrate your birthday eh? Happy Birthday!

Simon Food Favourites said...

hi ann, glad i didn't have to pay for the bill too being my birthday :-)

hi trissa, if the service picks up then will be good in the long run. can't beat the view :-)

tasteofbeirut said...

I am baffled as to why with the price tag and exquisite food they would not deliver perfect service too! Great meal though. A bit on the rich side. Tell me, do we really need to eat the panna cotta?

Simon Food Favourites said...

hi tasteofbeirut, i would expect service to be very good as well for the price you pay for the meals. thankfully they were friendly and down-to-earth and not surly like some expensive restaurant can be for some reason. i think a sorbet or jelly might have been better than the pannacotta as a pre dessert cleanser.

ellen said...

I found the service very frustrating too when I recently dined at Altitude with my family. They didn't clear the table before bringing out the entrees...so we had to move wine glasses and other things before the waiter could put dishes down. Worst of all, one of the waiters even dropped one of the main dishes! It was delicious food though but I really hope they rethink the level of service they're providing to customers.

3 hungry tummies said...

Happy belated birthday!
What a feast you have there! And drinking all my favourite wines :)

Ladybird said...

Hi Simon,

Food looked great but my oh my what a shame when it's all let down by lacklustre service!

Sounds like you had a pretty good night overall though - happy b'day!

Simon Food Favourites said...

hi ellen, thanks for dropping by. i think it perhaps comes down to experience or lack thereof. thankfully for them the food saved them a bit. but eventually i'm sure they'll get their act together, hopefully :-)

hi 3 hungry tummies, can't really go too wrong with NZ sauvignon blanc i've found :-)

hi Ladybird, thanks for the birthday wishes. a great night all in all and would probably go back again if the opportunity presented itself :-)

isyaantonius said...

Hi Simon, Happy belated B'day :) What a spoilt boy all these celebrations ... hehehe lucky you ... Wow amazed by the mashed potato ... All the very best Simon ...

Simon Food Favourites said...

hi isyaantonius, thanks for the birthday wishes. actually one more post to come about the birthday celebrations. watch this space :-)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I really enjoyed my meal at altitude so I was happy to see it awarded 1 chef's hat. Great pics and Happy Birthday Simon! :D

Simon Food Favourites said...

hi lorraine, thanks for the birthday wishes. i wouldn't mind go back as they seem to change their menu so there's always something new to try i think — but hopefully the scallops will remain :-)

Simon Food Favourites Map

View Simon Food Favourites in a larger map Key: BLUE - Location visit and review PINK - Simon Favourites and places offering something special

Small Bars in Sydney map

View Small Bars in Sydney in a larger map