After the mop-up from my time on the high seas, my employer, who had been away at the same time but on a different P&O ship, wanted to take me out for lunch to celebrate our hard work that had resulted in a very happy client.  I was thinking we might be taking an hour off for a slap-up Chinese at the local suburban restaurant but found (to my delight) that we were off to Quay, a three hatted restaurant no less, at the International Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay.

When my employer, Lisa, phoned to book she was advised that the view across to the Opera House would be blocked by a cruise ship and would that bother us.  ‘Not a bit’, she replied, ‘We’re quite used to looking at cruise ships’.

The view from The Quay

The view from The Quay

We arrived at lunchtime on a beautiful Sydney day and were warmly greeted and shown to our table that was in a fairly quiet and private corner of the restaurant where I sat on a very comfortable upholstered swivel chair and Lisa was seated on the banquette.  We may not have been able to see the Opera House but we certainly had a wonderful view of the Harbour Bridge.

TQ16We both started with a gin and tonic and then we were told how the menu worked.  You could order three courses for $135.00 or four courses for $145.00.  We decided, ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’, we’d have the four courses.  What I noticed as I read through the menu is that every dish contains a number of interesting ingredients I had either never heard of or had not yet tasted and it is so refreshing to go to a restaurant and be amazed, intrigued and inspired.

TQ15A pretty and tiny appetiser arrived that was goat’s curd with tomato and capers.  The flavours were incredible and this little bite-full really set the tone for what was to come.

An appetiser

An appetiser

For my first of four courses I had a salad of preserved wild cherries, albino and chiaggia beetroots, radish, creme fraiche and violets.  Look at how pretty it is and have you ever had a dish with that combination of ingredients?  The dish had a great variety of flavours and textures.

Preserved cherries

Salad of Wild Cherries

Lisa had sashimi of local lobster, bergamot, green almonds, grapefruit and elder flowers.  We wondered who the poor person out the back was who had the task of peeling each grapefruit segment as only the insides of each segment were plated.

Lobster Sashimi

Lobster Sashimi

My second course was also vegetarian and it was carrot seedlings, white lentils, almonds, Reggiano emulsion, cumin daylilies, Job’s tears and coriander flowers.  I wondered what ‘Job’s tears’ are and it’s barley.  This was another dish full of multiple textures from puree to firm crunch.


Carrot seedlings with Job’s tears

Lisa had line caught iki jimi Tasmanian squid, squid ink custard, society garlic and pink turnips.  This was so pretty on the textured plate.  Just look at the colour of those turnips!



By now we were enjoying a glass of Riesling but we switched to Pinot for the main course.  I had Berkshire pig jowl, maltose crackling, prunes, cauliflower cream, perfumed with prune kernel oil.  This was absolutely amazing and probably the most melt-in-the-mouth tender pork I’ve ever had.  The pork did not need to be carved, it fell apart with the touch of the fork.

Pork Jowl

Pork Jowl

Lisa had Hawkesbury free range chicken cooked in Vin Jaune and cream, steamed brioche, egg yolk confit, Albra truffle.  She said this was incredible with the chicken being beautifully poached, very tender and full of flavour.

Poached chicken

Poached chicken

My last course was the now very famous (thanks to its appearance on Master Chef) and very well blogged, White Nectarine Snow Egg.  What can I say that hasn’t already been said?  There is a nectarine fool at the bottom of the glass topped with a nectarine granita.  A meringue ‘snow egg’ sits delicately on top and cracks when tapped with the back of the spoon.  This was something I’ve been longing to try for a very long time and it was as amazing as everyone has previously said.  The sweetness of the meringue is cut by the iciness of the granita and then there’s the creaminess of the fool and the inside of the egg.

Snow cone

Snow egg

The snow cone tapped open

The snow egg tapped open

Lisa had the jersey cream, salted caramel, prunes, walnuts, ethereal sheets.  This was so pretty on the plate and I loved the super-thin layers of ‘sheets’ that were in an enormous variety of flavours.  What a work of art.  The waitress suggested she smash them and then enjoy little pieces together on her spoon.

Ethereal Sheets

Ethereal Sheets

By then it was heading towards early evening and the restaurant was closed to set up for the dinner service.  We were invited to sit outside on the balcony while the interior was vacuumed and the tables re-set.  We were in no hurry to leave and thought it would be remiss not to try the cheese platter that was a mix of blue, cheddar, a smoky cheese and a goat’s cheese.  I can’t remember the names of all these cheeses but I do remember the waitress saying the goat’s cheese came from Switzerland and had ‘alpine flavours’.

Four cheeses

Four cheeses

It’s hard to imagine how but we managed to finish off that cheese platter while sipping a full-bodied red and chatting endlessly about our plans for Christmas.  A taxi arrived and we were whisked away with just one quick glance over my shoulder wishing I was staying on for the dinner service.

The rear end of 'Radiance of the Seas'

The rear end of ‘Radiance of the Seas’

There’s nothing worse than a gushy post so I did have to find one thing to fault.  It was a challenge but I did find it – in the bathroom  – just look at the over-flowing used towels!

The Ladies Bathroom

The Ladies Bathroom

Used towels aside, this would have to be the best dining experience I’ve had in a very long time.  Thank you so very much Lisa for choosing Quay, your generosity and company and an incredible start to my Christmas celebrations.


Upper Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, 5 Hickson Road  The Rocks NSW 2000

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  1. O h yes a lunch to die for. I was exhausted reading the list of ingredients in each dish but take your word for it that they were a mastermind of flavours that melted and moulded together to create an extravaganza in the mouth. They looked fantastic (obviously you are also are pretty handy behind the lens). My idea of a great Christmas lunch. I have been here but only had fish and chips!!! what a fool!

  2. You lucky thing!!! Can’t get much better than Quay – lovely photos 🙂

  3. WOW! So artistic and should be so delicious too. Thank you, have a nice day, love, nia

  4. Sounds like a lovely meal! Each course is presented so beautifully I almost wouldn’t want to disturb it!

  5. Wow. The food was gorgeous. But, frankly, it should be for that price. Sounds like a wonderful treat all around. Even the bathroom is pretty, despite the towel bin.

  6. I would travel far and wide for that snow egg and lobster sashimi!

  7. An exquisite assemblage of dishes. I wouldn’t know where to start with some of them as they’re so intricate and almost too pretty to eat but both the desserts are pretty amazing.

  8. Very fancy indeed, what a fun, delicious experience!

  9. It makes me laugh to wonder if you dine with a notepad and pen by your plate. If you can remember all of those flowers (flowers!!) and ingredients you are a genius at memory. The ingredients there were amazing!!

  10. Yes for me on most of the dishes … and, of course, the wine. Outstanding presentations!

  11. Wow, what an experience! I’d love to try eating foods I’ve never tried before, but the opportunity doesn’t present itself often 😉

  12. Incredible, Charlie! What a lovely gift and it’s so nice that you got on that well with your boss. I adore a meal that lasts a long time, like your lunch. I can’t change up wines like you did, instant migrane would ensue, but I just love the thought of doing so. The dishes you selected would have been the ones I would have selected, with the exception of the pork, I just can’t eat that rich crackling, but boy did it look incredibly beautiful! The dessert also sounds intriguing and would be one I would want to try! You had an incredibly beautiful day as well, lucky you! We’re expecting freezing rain and perhaps some light snow later today. I’ll just retread your post and pretend I’m there with you, if you don’t mind!

  13. I cannot imagine paying that much for a meal. Ever. But it sure would be fun. The food presentations are incredible and it sounds like the taste was equally as outstanding.

  14. Fantastic looking place and food. Love the snow egg!

  15. I’m so jealous…. Lucky I love you or I might have too hate you 🙂 What a lovely boss to spoil you like that, but I’m sure you deserved every bite!

  16. I must admit the prices are very steep but I think the view and quality of the dishes sort of justify it. I was very impressed with every single dish. I had the white nectarine snow egg when I went and I was just in awe. Amazing.

  17. Oh, my gosh. What an exquisite feast!!! That snow egg looks amazing…wow!

  18. I’m very impressed at your stamina, Charlie! Four courses & then the cheese platter – that’s dedication. Did you then have to go home and cook dinner? I think I might have needed a little lie down. 😉

    • hotlyspiced says:

      No Amanda, I did not cook dinner. Everyone was given leftovers and I couldn’t eat another thing and I did get that lie down!

  19. What a fancy lunch you had Charlie. All those dishes look just beautiful. Shame about the bathroom. It can really let a place down can’t it?

  20. That was a fantastic meal, Charlie! And for lunch, no less! I’ve not heard of a Snow Egg but it sure makes a great presentation. Wow! No job is perfect, to be sure, but it is nice to see that your Boss appreciated your efforts and was willing to demonstrate it. Good for you!

  21. What a delightful lunch!!!!! Great that your boss appreciates your hard work. Each course is a work of art, great photos.

  22. Sometimes I can’t even comprehend how food can be this beautiful. Stunning.

  23. That pork jowl dish is heavenly and it’s great that they let you know about the cruise ship in view. I think it’s just called Quay though and not The Quay? 🙂

  24. Oh what a lunch! I’m so glad you got to experience all that you’ve done over the past few weeks. You really needed some YOU time and you certainly got it with that meal. Have a happy Christmas!

  25. This looks absolutely wonderful. I love nothing more than beautifully plated food. It almost seems a pity to spoil it by eating it.

  26. What amazing looking food! It all seems picture perfect.

  27. That food looks absolutely incredible! I am loving your new job!!!! It sounds like you are quite enjoying it as well. 🙂

  28. Oh my, I’m so jealous! What a fabulous holiday lunch! So many ingredients I’ve not heard of and presented so beautifully! I love to experience new foods to me and pared with gorgeous atmosphere and wine, it sounds like a perfect day!

  29. That lobster sashimi looks amazing!

  30. Looks like you had the whole menu

  31. I LOVE Quay!

    My boyfriend enjoyed the pork jowl as well though I wish the chicken was on the menu when we visited for it looks delicious. I also had a bit of a giggle when I saw the photo of the overflowing towel bin, haha!

  32. Snow egg! That’s a perfect holiday dish. How lovely.

  33. What pretty, innovative food. It is such fun to see a bit of the Aussie food scene, which is staggeringly phenomenal!

  34. Loucky Charlie, what a beautiful gift and my you are good with that camera phone

  35. What a treat! Such creative cooking, it looks amazing and must taste the same.

  36. This looks divine! I’d absolutely love to go there. Hopefully we’ll get to sydney this year

  37. WOW so lucky Charlie that you got to go to Quay 🙂 But you deserved it! You have worked so hard! I love all the dishes and i got to try some of them when we went to Quay! I love the pork jowl SO SO SO much and OMG don’t get me started on the snow egg hehe ~ it is ONE of the most exquisite desserts I have ever day! xox

  38. A Chirstmas indulgence and absolutely worth it by the looks of it 🙂

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