Gowings Bar & Grill, QT Hotel, Sydney CBD
The bar and grill is not obvious from the street but it was only breakfast time. Located on the second floor of the QT hotel and next door to the iconic State Theatre, it can be impressive that Gowings B & G opens its doors as early as 630am, considering that people do party at the same venue rather late the evening before. There is always a smiling young woman or man at the street level entrance to the QT itself - and this person often is a traveller from Canada or Europe with a friendly countenance. The rooms at the QT are on the high side of pricing, already for a city that asks for much in hotel accommodation. Once you come out of the lift, you are settled into the rather cosy and cocooned world of the Gowings. This name once referred to a department store but memories of that Australian business is carried on through association in the very building which once housed sales of clothes and accessories.
Breakfast can be a sophisticated affair, suggesting of early morning money deals or lingering a whiff of a torrid evening before. At first glance, I thought it may look like an elderly gentlemens' club but no, there is the odd Asian tourist, the gathering of women out in town and the business team in suits. Wooden panels, old fashioned lighting and well mannered staff can add to an environment where we willingly pay lunch meal prices for early morning works of art like the free range egg white omelette cooked in flax seed oil - with Swiss chard, kale and shitake mushrooms (how very Sydney!), it is priced at AUD21. I chose for myself the Eggs Rockefeller, feeling a longing for the USA that day, and I was more than a happy puppy with farmed black caviar, warm brioche, steamed Warrugal greens and Tarragon all bathed in Hollandaise sauce (photo above).
The devil is in the detail, some say, but I reckon it is also how they make you feel. Chocolate milk there is stated as from Jersey cows, but that was not as significant as how each staff member approaches you and your group. This place is highly recommended to allow leisurely time and act as if you have an unplanned day ahead. The conversations around you can be low toned for there is ample space between your company of diners and those of another. The bar and kitchen have been stylishly designed, there are high ceilings and the outside world in whatever shape or weather is so far away. The person behind this establishment is Robert Marchetti who values unique cooking techniques using fired rotisseries. And the bar closes at midnight. In the meantime, the well dressed, those who want to be seen and watch as well, gather throughout the day. It is not burlesque, neither cabaret like but more Euro elegant, maybe indulgent and obviously enjoyable.
There are underlying influences of Mexican, Australian and Asian in the varied menu. Imagine custard duck egg tarts, eleven seeded hand made bread loaves, a simple Cantonese congee and smoked ham baked in hay. They also could not resist offering the Big Breakfast, naturally labelled Gowings, with air dried cured bacon, goats cheese and garlic buttered mushrooms in its description. Would I return? A definite yes, but next for the dinners and the wines. They have a Paul Bara Brut from a French vineyard, a Philip Shaw No. 19 from Orange in central New South Wales and a Von Buhl dry Riesling from Germany. For both lunchtime and evenings, there is the beer steamed prawn cocktail; partly boned whole roasted quails; hand dived wild scallops; rib eye of the Angus hereford from Tasmania's Cape Grim; and creme brulee made with double baked dark chocolate.