Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ocean Room, Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay

Ocean Room, Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay
Wednesday 14 June, 2006

I had made our reservation 2 days earlier via voicemail. A stern woman called me back from Wildfire to confirm my reservation. I explained that I was trying to make a reservation for Ocean Room, not Wildfire. At no time did she explain to me that Wildfire and Ocean Room were owned by the same people or that, yes I did in fact have a reservation for Ocean Room. I was confused and I hadn't even made it through the front door!

As we walked down towards the Overseas Passenger Terminal we wondered whether we entered via the Wildfire entrance. But no, just past this restaurant is the entrance to Ocean Room. We were met with several staff standing around the entrance and the team behind the bar trying to figure out how to change the channel on the huge flat screen TV (for the State of Origin or World Cup). The restaurant was empty but it still took the maitre'd a good 2 minutes to check and find our reservation. We stood twiddling our thumbs in the entrance whilst he scanned through the reservations book. Surely, they would be prepared enough to know that their first guests were arriving at 6.30pm?

Another staff member walked us to our table past the enormous live aquarium that she made no mention of. This would have been a great talking point as we were led through the restaurant to our spectacular table by the window (and the view). The decor is interesting with bizarre but intriguing light fixtures, small curved tables, a long stretch of tables for 2 and a cute looking pod table in the corner past the sushi bar with a low hanging light. We were seated and prompty asked,'what do you want to drink'? Not... can I offer a pre dinner drink or would you like to see our cocktail menu?

Ocean Room has a prime location within the Overseas Passenger Terminal with views across to the Opera House and East Circular. The menu is described as 'fresh Australian seafood inspired by the techniques and flavours from Japan creatively mixed with classic Mediterranean methods'. Within moments of sitting down we were delivered 5 menus - 2 food menus, 1 specials menu, 1 wine list and 1 cocktail list. The menu was smaller than I imagined and the condition of the menus were poor - frayed pages, stains etc. It was a bit overwhelming to receive so many menus at once.

Another staff member came back twice to take our order (sorry, we haven't even looked at the menus yet...too busy talking). The menu is divided into small chunks - Sea Bar, Tapas, Entrees, Mains from the Oean, Mains for the Land and Coastal Cuisine - Today's Catch. The entrees sounded very tempting and I chose the Squid - spiced green curry salt, pepper with fresh mint salad and lime vinaigrette and my dinner buddy selected the Chef's tasting plate - a selection of daily tapas.

The restaurant started to fill up with a mixture of business people and tourists and our entrees were delivered on fabulous plates - the shapes, colours and sizes were a real talking point. My squid was sensational and it was presented with a small pile of squid next to the fresh mint salad (that was actually red onion) and a banana leaf wrapped up as a cone with squid stuffed inside. The Chef's tasting plate looked really great with about 6 different offerings - the standout was the crab dim sum with ginger pedro ximenex wine dipping sauce but the most intriguing was aptly named Tomato, tomato, tomato - which comprised tomato jelly foam, marinated cherry tomato stuffed with sun-dried tomato cream. As great as it sounded, it was a dissapointment.

For the main meal I selected the Organic Spatchcock - pan roasted with truffle, chestnut mushrooms, soft polenta and thyme infused pan juices - it was absolutely delicious - the portion size was enormous. My dinner buddy selected a main portion of the entree Scampi - grilled fresh scampi with seven spice vinaigrette, avocado, cucumber and cherry tomato salad. For a winter menu it was surprising to see such a fresh, light summer-ish salad offered. There was no indication where the scampi was sourced from so we asked another waiter and he said he would confirm this with the kitchen - not longer afterwards he returned with 'WA'.

The service was very ad hoc, we had one or two pleasant waiters but it's the ones with attitude that you always remember as they can ruin the experience. The only downside of where we were seated was the constant chopping noise coming from the sushi bar and the loud Japanese chatter from the sushi chefs. After a while it started to grate on you.

It's not a cheap night out - you are looking at $100 minimum per head. For this, you do expect alot more than what Ocean Room can offer. The staff, for one, need to learn the basics of service.

Ocean Room - Ground floor, Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay - (02) 8273 1277


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nearly 2 years later nothing seems to have improved, at least as far as curt handling of reservations. We turned up without a reservation at 7:00, asked if it was possible to get a table for 2 without a reservation, and even though all the outside tables were empty were sternly told "nothing free till 10:30" at which point we were dismissed. I don't like feeling like an interrruoption to a waitpersons day...

6:11 pm  

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