William Blue Dining

Chocolate delice

Pear tart

Cheese plate

Pork

Lamb

Risotto

Steamed greens

Roast chats

Pork starter

Onion tart

Salmon starter

Interior

***** (5 stars)

This is an interesting and fun concept, where culinary students prepare the food and wait on the tables. But don’t assume that makes anything about the experience amateurish. All of the food we had was top notch, and the service was friendly and professional, even if there were a few details that weren’t perfectly polished.

Perhaps because it is a training environment the prices are extremely reasonable, both for food and wine. There’s no question that it’s the best value of all of Sydney’s fine dining restaurants.

William Blue Dining
107 George St
The Rocks, New South Wales 2000
+61 9 4923 290
https://www.yelp.com/biz/william-blue-dining-the-rocks

The Front Restaurant

Chocolate dipped ice cream

Cheese

Lamb

John Dory

Interior

John Dory

Lamb

Mackerel

***** (5 stars)

Our meal here greatly exceeded my expectations. In fact, the five-course tasting menu was superior to the tasting menu we had the previous night at the famous Quay restaurant around the bend.

Each dish was comprised of a perfect melding of ingredients and flavors, with the John Dory and the perfectly cooked lamb being particular standouts. The dessert–which was really three desserts on one plate– was also outstanding.

The wine list is a bit limited, but there are some gems such as Tyrell’s Vat 47 Chardonnay.

The only failing was the service, which although attentive missed a lot that you’d expect in this caliber of restaurant. Empty plates stayed on the table too long, and I think we must have requested our wine to be repoured at least a half dozen times. I wish restaurants would just leave the bottle at the table in the European style, as it would be better for both guest and server.

Nevertheless, it was a fabulous dining experience, and perhaps my favorite restaurant experience other than Tetsuya in all of Sydney, so they are definitely knocking it out of the park here. Great restaurant.

The Front Restaurant
11 Hickson Rd
Sydney, New South Wales 2000
+61 2 8298 9910
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-front-restaurant-sydney

George’s Gourmet Pizzeria

Mediterranean pizza (veggie)

Pepperoni and basil

Caesar salad

Patio

*** (3 stars)

George’s pizza serves a lot more than pizza, including pasta and other Italian standards. In fact the best item we had was the chicken Caesar salad, although I say that with qualifications. The chicken was actually quite tough, and the salad would have been better without it. But the bacon-like meat was good, the dressing was excellent, and the lettuce was nice and crisp.

I’m a fan of many styles of pizza, from thin crust to deep dish, New York style to Chicago style. George’s pizza isn’t really any of those. The crust is thicker than thin, and is a bit too tough and chewy. The result varies depending upon the pizza you order. In the case of pepperoni, it seemed like it was a frozen pizza, and was really not very good. But on the generously topped Mediterranean pizza (a veggie option) it worked fine, because the whole thing seemed more like a vegetable tart than a pizza.

It’s a quick serve concept where you order at a counter and they deliver to your table, but even so the water and menu service was friendly and attentive.

George’s Gourmet Pizzeria
15/1 Circa Boulevarde
Baulkham Hills, New South Wales 2153
+61 2 9836 2711
https://www.yelp.com/biz/georges-gourmet-pizzeria-baulkham-hills

Creperie Suzette

Poulet

Exterior

**** (4 stars)

This charming little spot offers made-to-order savory galettes and dessert crepes. There are are a half dozen of each type. You place your order at a counter and they fix your crepe on a griddle right there and bring it to your table.

We tried salmon, chicken, vegetable and mushroom varieties, and all four were excellent. They also do coffees and have a nice selection of cold drinks in the fridge.

Service was friendly and surprisingly quick considering they have to make each crepe one at a time. Pricing is very reasonable.

Creperie Suzette
34 Harrington St
The Rocks, New South Wales 2000
+61 2 8220 9999
https://www.yelp.com/biz/creperie-suzette-the-rocks

Quay Restaurant

Dulcey

Strawberry

Duck

Lamb

Smoked pig jowl and razor clam

Uni

Smoked wagyu

Carrots

View

**** (4 stars)

Usually restaurants with great views are on the top of tall buildings, but Quay is in the middle of its view of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. And usually restaurants with great views don’t strive to provide particularly great food. Quay does try hard, though, and sometimes succeeds.

Every course is certainly beautiful, but not everything tastes quite as good as it looks. The tasting menu is the way to go, because its many courses offer the best shot at finding something delicious. Our favorites were the smoked pork jowl, the lamb, and an amazing strawberry snow egg.

The wine list is extensive, and although the markups are pretty high, it’s a brilliantly constructed list, divided up by wine styles, varietals and regions in the most organized fashion I’ve ever encountered. The Champagne section even has two-page spreads that lists winemakers, grape percentages, and other vital statistics. I wish all wine lists were like this.

Quay Restaurant
Overseas Passenger Terminal
Level 4
Sydney, New South Wales 2000
+61 2 9251 5600
https://www.yelp.com/biz/quay-restaurant-sydney-4

Intermezzo Ristorante

Snapper and scampi

Pappardelle

Green olives, tomato, sourdough

Rocket, pear and reggiano

Front room

Exterior

Interior

**** (4 stars)

I think a lot of the reviews here are out of date, as they have changed chef and staff in the past two years. We had a great experience here.

The ambiance is upscale genuine Italian as you would find in Italy. There’s an extensive menu and an excellent wine list with a focus on Italian wines (of course) but plenty of other selections as well.

We enjoyed our green olives, tomato and sourdough bread starter, and the rocket, pear and reggiano salad was a nice palate cleanser.

The pappardelle with mushrooms was a lovely, light pasta dish, and the crispy skin snapper with prawns was perfectly cooked. I could have licked the plate to get off the last of the pureed peas!

Service was attentive, and they brought nice glassware and decanted our Amarone without being asked.

Pricing is not cheap, but not unreasonable for the expensive location.

Intermezzo Ristorante
1 Martin Pl
Sydney, New South Wales 2000
+61 2 9229 7788
https://www.yelp.com/biz/intermezzo-ristorante-sydney-3

O’Charley’s Restaurant & Bar

Exterior

Entry

Interior

Interior

Bread

Wedge side salad

Cedar plank salmon

Appetizer sampler

***** (5 stars)

I rarely give five stars to a chain restaurant, but this place really deserves it. Sunday lunch here was one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in months. Everything about our visit was perfect, from the hostess stand to the friendly and attentive server, James, to his helpful assistant and the manager. And the food was far above expectations.

The first surprise was the interior decor. From the outside I was expecting a dark and dreary steakhouse. But it turns out those brown walls are panes of smoked glass, and inside the place is lit by a two story atrium. There’s also outside seating, which wasn’t apparent from the parking lot.

I had the cedar plank salmon. It was a huge, succulent piece of perfectly seasoned fresh salmon, and had really picked up the cedar flavors from the plank it was served on. This was honestly better than the cedar plank salmon at Disney’s Artist’s Point, at about one-third the cost.

Not only was the salmon great, the sides were, too. I selected the wedge salad and a loaded baked potato. Both were every bit as good as you can get at any high-end steakhouse in town. For all that fabulous food I felt like $16.99 was an extremely fair price.

My companion went a completely different route and had the appetizer sampler. The potato skins, fried cheese, and chicken tenders were all perfectly crisp and excellent–everything you’d expect from a good sports bar-type place, but served in a much nicer environment, and at $8.99 another great value.

Our drinks were refilled multiple times, the waiter stopped by to check on us and chat several times, and the manager bid us farewell on the way out the door. I can’t really imagine a better dining experience than this.

O’Charley’s Restaurant & Bar
8081 Turkey Lake Rd
Ste 700
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 354-0010
http://www.yelp.com/biz/o-charleys-restaurant-and-bar-orlando

Anita’s Mexican Restaurant

Exterior

Interior

Appetizer sampler

Chicken chipotle

Green enchilada

*** (3 stars)

This place serves typical Tex-Mex food in a road side diner environment.

The most interesting item we had was the chipotle chicken, which had been simmered in a thick red sauce and was fairly spicy. We couldn’t try the rellenos or the tamales because they were out of both, but the green chili cheese enchilada and quesadilla were average. The rice was good, refried beans had an odd flavor.

I would avoid the appetizer sampler, a literal pile of loaded nachos, quesadillas, taquitos and guacamole. It just sort of dissolved into a sodden mess, although the taquitos were pretty good.

Anita’s Mexican Restaurant
114 W Central Ave
Lake Wales, FL 33853
(863) 223-8504
http://www.yelp.com/biz/anitas-mexican-restaurant-lake-wales