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Wednesday 21 October 2015

Dining in style - with superb views a bonus

I rarely have high expectations of restaurants that float, revolve or involve movement of any kind. They usually offer views alongside culinary mediocrity. 

When was the last time you had a great dining experience on a train, tram or airplane? Views rarely equate to gourmet satisfaction.

Fortunately the very classy Altitude restaurant on the 36th floor of the lovely Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney offers superb views without movement - and what views they are, too, stretching from Luna Park and the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the Opera House and beyond.

I think it would be fair to say the views are unsurpassed by any other eatery in Australia's glitziest city.

The good news is that the food and wine more than matches the setting. Sommelier John MacKinnon has put together a very smart list of 400+ bottles ranging from familiar to avant garde, while the kitchen is adventurous without scaring the horses.

Given the views it is a very popular romantic destination: it was close to full (mainly couples) on a recent Thursday night.

We started with a tiny but very tasty amuse bouche of sous vide pumpkin, caramelised yoghurt and puffed quinoa that matched superbly with the 2010 Clover Hill Vintage Brut, a delicious Tasmanian bubbly.

Next came cured yellow fin tuna, confit quail egg yolk, black sesame and grapefruit - brilliant with a Thomas The OC 2014 Semillon; a Hunter classic.

Hapuka with squid ink, miso, clams, leeks and purple daikon were paired with a Michael Hall 2013 Adelaide Hills Chardonnay, impressively restrained.

The meat course, Riverina lamb two ways with braised Savoy cabbage, sprouts, roasted almonds and eggplants was less successful with the rare meat actually undercooked and tough. The slow-cooked lamb was lovely, however, with a 2010 La Violetta La Cornia Shiraz from Great Southern maverick AJ Hoadley.

We concluded with a world-class selection cheeses; Pyengana Clothbound Cheddar, Holy Goat Brigid's Well, Cropwell Bishop Shropshire Blue, The Extravagant from Timboon, 

Cropwell Bishop Shropshire Blue; and a sublime Pont-L'Évêque.

Two wines were needed this time around: a 
2013 Hermann J Weimer ‘Late Harvest’ Riesling from the Finger Lakes in New York and a 
Stanton & Killeen ‘Classic’ Rutherglen Muscat.

All in all, hugely impressive and a great venue to impress out-of-towners.

Altitude Restaurant, Level 36, Shangri-La Hotel, 176 Cumberland St, Sydney. 

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