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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Astral Restaurant, Pyrmont

EDIT: Astral has now closed

Astral is one of those rare venues which combines majestic views, attentive service and exemplary food. We had heard good things about Astral from trusted sources, and we were not disappointed.

The glass lifts which effortlessly accelerate you to the 17th floor provide a taste of the view to come. The maitre'd welcomed us with warm efficiency before escorting us into the crisp white tableclothed dining room. The floor-to-ceiling glass windows afford panoramic views of Sydney's Darling Harbour stretching all the way to the Harbour Bridge.

The service and ambience here is fine dining but, thankfully, without too much stuffiness. We ended up having 3 courses for $85 (2 courses for $70) and found the food well-executed and beautifully presented. This is a great 'treat yourself' restaurant and probably one of the best Gold Card options on offer in the Entertainment Book (25% off total bill up to the value of $45).

Astral is fairly strict on bookings (either 6.30pm or 8.30pm) although the place was only at about 70% on the Saturday night we dined. They also offer complimentary parking to patrons but you may wish to check first beforehand.

PS. We noticed a billposter for the Astral Bar Vodka Martini Degustation, promising "Five courses of award-winning cuisine and matching Vodka Martinis" for $85. I could easily be convinced...

Complimentary espresso cup of crab bisque
Rich, creamy and well-flavoured

Ceviche of kingfish with lime, avocade and sesame tuiles
Clean fresh flavours contrasting with the delicacy of the paper-thin sesame wafers

Rock lobster ravioli with ginger and treacle buerre blanc
A real highlight, with the sweetness and delicate flakiness of the lobster (and there was a generous portion inside) really shining. This dish could have easily been done sloppily (overcooked pasta, watery defrosted lobster) but there were no complaints here. We found the combination of flavours well-executed and harmonious and a bit of salmon roe never goes astray!

Barramundi on ham hock and vegetable bouillon with a meaux mustard emulsion
The barramundi was seared nice and crisply but unfortunately we found the fish a tad overcooked, leaving a tacky sensation on the tooth. This was the only dish with fault for the evening although the bouillon did impart a pleasantly robust flavour to the fish.

Gold band snapper with a saute of yabbies, corn and thyme gnocchi
The snapper was better executed--the flesh sweet and tender.

Saddle of lamb with its own confit, white onion tart and marjoram jus
The lamb was served two ways--the cylinder on the right was actually a roulade of roast lamb (a classic French style I believe). The roulade was dark and gamey lamb, strong in flavour yet melt-in-the-mouth tender. The seared lamb on the left was juicy pink and the onion tart was also flavoursome (although I still wax lyrical about the so-far unparalleled onion tart at Pier 26).

There was some discussion that perhaps a delay in the lamb meant the two fish dishes were kept on the pass under the hot lamps, and hence overcooked in the interim. The lamb was my main, so I ate happily with my choice on all counts.

Sydney nightscape from the outdoor balcony
The outdoor balcony is enormous and offers a relaxing and contemplative sojourn between courses.

Complimentary tart mango pudding with double cream
Another freebie! The mango was quite tart so the cream was devoured with gusto. We resisted temptation to use our fingers to lick out the bottom of the shot glass.

Petit fours
An amazingly generous platter of petit fours for three people. We meticulously divided the baby lemon tart with raspberries, alcoholic chocolate fondant balls, brandy snap cones with chocolate rum creme and two elegant physalis dipped in white chocolate.

Physalis, also known as a goldenberry, Cape Gooseberry, ground cherry or husk tomato, is one of those fancy excitment-inducing exotic fruits. The fruit grows inside a papery husk which turns brown as the berry ripens. The berry itself tasted similar to a yellow pear cherry tomato, but its appearance as some kind of golden ornament was more impressive.

Passionfruit creme with tropical fruit ratatouille, coconut and sago soup
Delicate, light and pleasant, the sago gave an interesting texture to the fruit salad (ratatouille? Come on!)

White chocolate and raspberry brulee with white chocolate tower of vanilla and raspberry sorbet
If you're going to have dessert, you may as well go the full hog. I had the brulee and this was truly a wise decision. The creme brulee was rich and creamy with a satisfyingly extra thick layer of toffee on top.

The accompanying sorbet provided much-needed palate cleansing in between spoonfuls. The white chocolate discs were delicately (and uniformly) thin and presentation was perfect. A satisfying conclusion to a perfect meal.

Side view of sorbet tower

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Astral Bar & Restaurant CLOSED
Level 17, Star City Casino, 80 Pyrmont Street Pyrmont
Tel: 02 9657 8767

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Pyrmont - Blue Eyed Dragon
Pyrmont - Doyles

Pyrmont - Little Snail
Pyrmont - Oscars (Jan09), (Oct07) and (Oct06)
Pyrmont - Sydney Fish Markets
Pyrmont -Viva Goa
Pyrmont -Yots
4 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Anonymous on 10/09/2004 11:59:00 pm


  • At 10/13/2004 11:18 pm, Blogger R said…

    Another job well done Augustusgloop.

    Did you leave one of your business cards at Astral?

    More than happy to drag you along for the digustation menu.

  • At 10/18/2004 3:48 am, Blogger DiveMummy said…

    Aaahhh...brings back strong salivary memories....as always your gastronomic literary descriptions are spot on...

  • At 1/13/2006 9:43 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi there
    I've recently discovered your blog and I love reading the reviews! I'm considering taking my girlfriend to Astral for the degustation menu - would you recommend it? Is the food good enough to top it off with a proposal to her?

  • At 5/09/2007 3:41 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I just found your blog, and it is so impressive. I just started my own food review blog, and I can see that I have a lot to learn. My blog is still a bit under construction as I get familiar with the ins and outs of the format. Thanks for being an inspiration to us food lovers!


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