Saturday, 22 October 2011

2-year anniversary dinner at 360 Bar and Dining, Sydney (22nd October 2011)

Today marks 2 years since Jono and I went on our first date. Time flies when you're having fun and I've definitely enjoyed another wonderful year with my amazing man :)

Anniversaries are a cause for celebration and tonight was no exception - I had booked us a table for a romantic dinner for two at 360 Bar and Dining located in Sydney Tower. Yes, it is a 360 revolving restaurant and you know how we have a thing for revolving restaurants, this being the third we've been to in the past 2 years (we went to one in Jaipur, India and then the Sky Tower, Auckland). And why not revolving restaurants? You get to enjoy the amazing city skyline as you dine. Sounds pretty good to me!

I had pre-booked our dinner sitting some 3 weeks ahead of time as this restaurant is a popular venue for special occasions and I didn't want us to miss out on our special day. The sitting sessions for dinner are between 5.30pm - 8.30pm and normally in 90-minute blocks. The earliest I could get us was a 7.30pm sitting (which was a bit later than I would have liked - I would much prefer a 6.30pm sitting so we got to see the Sydney skyline in both day and night) so around 6ish, we left home and headed to Westfield Shopping Centre on Pitt St where the entrance into the tower was located.

Hmm, how do we get to the restaurant? The lift indicated that the restaurant is on Level 4 but exiting the lift, all we got was another level of shops within the shopping centre. Another couple in the lift who were also heading the same direction were as puzzled as we were (they were dressed for a black tie event while Jono and I were smart casual, both acceptable dress codes for the restaurant). It turned out that the entrance to the tower was indeed located on Level 4 - there was a reception/bookings desk which was hidden in view from where we caught the lifts thus causing much confusion (perhaps they should put a sign at the lift exit to indicate that we needed to head into the foyer to find the reception area). There were several other people lining up making enquiries when we were there. "Booking for two for Angelica Tan," I said to the reception lady who then buzzed someone at the restaurant on the walkie-talkie to find out if our table was ready so we could head up. "Your table is ready. Please go through security on the left," said the lady with a smile and handed us a pass which we had to surrender to the burly security man guarding the lift entrance. Both Jono and I had to go through a metal detector (the security guard also inspected my handbag) before the guard sent us on our way to the restaurant.

A short 30-second ride up (the lift is fully enclosed with no glass panels to view the outside) to the restaurant arriving at Level 1 of the golden crown topping Sydney Tower, one is welcomed by the stylish dark wood furnishing and soft ambient lighting giving the place a luscious gold and chocolate tone - very warm and inviting. We were shown to our table which was by the windows - yes! I was informed when I made my booking that window tables were not guaranteed but every time I pull out the "it's our anniversary" card, it always works to my favour and I was almost certain we would get a table with a good view (well, I didn't have to 'lie' this time as it was indeed my anniversary). Jono and I were too busy looking at the amazing views from our table that we didn't even notice that we were revolving! Well, we soon realised it when a window beam came into view...

With their French-influenced modern Australian cuisine, guests have a choice of either the 2- or 3-course dinner from the a la carte menu (additional charges apply to certain items on the menu). We decided to splurge for the special occasion and went for the 3-course meal ($95 per person) which we got to choose an entrée, main and dessert each. Jono ordered the quail as his entrée and salmon for his main while I got the oysters as my entrée and went with Jono's suggestion to try the wagyu sirloin (cost an additional $30) for my main. For dessert, we opted for the 360 dessert tasting plate for two. We also ordered a glass of wine each (150ml per glass), a Drift Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, NZ) for Jono and Ninth Island Pinot Noir (Tasmania) for me as well as a 1 litre bottle of still water to share. The cost of drinks were additional to the price of the 3-course dinner and boy do they charge an arm and a leg for wines here. We would have gotten a bottle to share but it was too expensive (the cheapest bottle was $42 and when you can get a decent bottle of wine for less than $20 outside, this feels a bit much).

While we waited for our entrées, our lovely French waitress who was serving our table this evening brought  over a bread basket with two bread rolls and dipping plate of butter, sea salt flakes and olive oil-balsamic dip to go with the bread. I love olive oil-balsamic dip, especially when quality olive oil is used and I definitely agree with Jono that this dip uses good quality oil. Yum! Nibbling on our bread, we continued to enjoy the view, the day quite quickly turning night. It takes 70 minutes for one full revolution of the panoramic views of Sydney and beyond - it is said you can see the Blue Mountains from here but given Jono and I are still figuring out what suburb we are looking at and trying to load up Google Maps to confirm our findings with little joy due to lack of reception (you would think being this high up we would have great phone reception but no), we probably missed it.

Our entrées arrived shortly as did our wines. 150ml of wine to last us the whole sitting - hmm, have to somehow stretch it out...My 1/2 dozen Sydney rock oysters were served on a bed of ice with half a lemon and cider & seaweed vinegar on the side. I had never thought I would enjoy raw oysters so much until Wratty introduced it to me during our 7-day group tour in Tasmania - just a few drops of lemon juice on the half-shell oyster and slurp! Ok, I didn't actually slurp (that would probably gotten me stares even though that's how you should eat raw oysters) but instead used the cocktail fork to detach the oyster from its shell and picked up it with the fork then straight into my mouth. Mmm, absolutely divine...Personally, I prefer the lemon juice over the cider & seaweed vinegar with the oysters (the latter had too much zing). Jono's roasted quail served with white bean puree, french beans and hazelnut was also really nice. Quite impressed with the food and service so far - can't wait to find out how the rest of the courses rate.

Wagyu (pronounced 'wag-you' and literally translates to 'Japanese cow') is a breed of cattle that originated from Japan but is now widely breed in Australia with Australia being the largest producer of this special breed of cattle outside of Japan. Tales of the cows being massaged, fed beer /wine and played classical music are commonly told though I'm not sure how much truth there is to it (seriously? I don't even get pampered that much!). In Australia, these wagyu cattle are grain fed for the last 300-500 days of production. Known for its marbling characteristics (intramuscular fat deposits found in muscle fibres in the beef), tenderness and juiciness, wagyu beef is highly prized for its uncompromising quality - one should expect to pay a hefty price for your premium cut of beef, at over $1 per gram of meat. I repeat, PER GRAM. Ouch! I love a good steak but even that price scares me. In fact, I wasn't planning to get the wagyu sirloin but Jono said it was ok to put a dent on our credit card tonight. I had my 220g wagyu sirloin (400-day grain fed) cooked medium with a bordelaise sauce finish (a red wine based sauce) and choice of fries on the side (you can choose paris potato instead of fries). "Babe, I think I'm doomed - now that I've tried wagyu, I don't think I can ever turn back!" I told Jono after taking my first bite of the steak and cut a piece for him to sample. Oh, the meat just melts in your mouth in full flavour - I'm having steak orgasm! With a marble score of 9+, the steak was high in intramuscular fat (there were even little fatty bits served on top of the steak) - the higher the marble score (and 9+ is very high), the higher quality and with that comes higher cost. Jono's salmon fillet with roasted aubergine, fennel puree and radish salad though was also excellent became pretty average to me after I tried my steak. Oh dear, my steak cravings are going to cost me from now on...

I reckon somewhere between 180g-220g of wagyu beef is enough for me - anything beyond that would be too much for me to stomach. Though good for health as it is high in omega 3 fatty oils, too much of the fatty meat does make me feel slightly sick. I was quite glad our dessert came much later for I needed a bit time to digest. The weather seemed to have taken a drastic change, most of our pretty city night-lights now covered by a wave of fog that appeared all of a sudden.

We continue chatting and laughed reminiscing over the past year and all the wonderful things we've done together - travelling places, spending time with respective families and friends, the numerous events be have attended together, moving to Sydney - it's been a very eventful year! And we're still very much in love :)

Dessert finally turned up around 9.30pm and the shared platter consisted of a selection of all four desserts on their menu: brulée (vanilla bean crème brulée with strawberry salad), pear & pistachio (pistachio crème patisserie with Poire Williams marshmallow, sable and botrytis jelly), lemon (lemon posset, shortcake, baked meringue and raspberry) and chocolate (chocolate parfait, candied clementine, mandarin curd, chocolate & maple biscuit). Like the entrées and mains, the dessert too equally impressed me in both taste and presentation. Unfortunately we couldn't polish the platter as we were feeling full - it was still very good, however much we managed to indulge.

Cost us a whopping $212 (this is after taking 25% off the bill using the Entertainment card), the most expensive dinner we have had to date. Despite the cost, I would highly recommend coming to 360 Bar and Dining for your special occasion - we thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I'm sure you would too. Make sure you book early to avoid disappointment! Photos taken at 360 Bar and Dining here.


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