There’s a certain stereotype surrounding people who regularly indulge in the champagne & jam-and-cream-on scone-fuelled (or is it cream-and-jam-on-scone?) indulgence that is high tea. Lots of bubbly, lots of cake, lots of tea, and a seriously long afternoon to kill.
Hey now, that actually sounds pretty darn nice – sign me up! And look, if I’m going to do high tea, it might as well be the highest high tea…
Date Last Visited: 16/Jul/2017 (360 Dining) | 20/Aug/2017 (High Tea)
Address: Westfield Tower
Price Guide (approx):
-$79/$120pp (high tea / high tea w/unlimited champagne)
-$100pp (360 Bar & Dining)
Tell someone ‘305 metres’ and they’ll just reply ‘how high?’ – blank looks being a bonus.
It’s really high, the same height at which the STUDIO High Tea is hosted. A special function space that sits even above 360 Dining (the Westfield Tower’s restaurant – more on this experience later), STUDIO is not for the acrophobes. Seriously, all of us – especially the staff – would like you to keep your vertigo in check, and champagne in your flute & belly, not anywhere else.
Discussion of potential disasters aside, let’s move onto the high tea – which is anything but. At $79 and $120 respectively, it’s definitely the most expensive I’ve personally experienced. That you pay for the view and unique position is practically a given. High tea is also hosted only on the last Sunday of each month; reservations are mandatory.
We were greeted with live music and champagne on arrival: definitely the right way to be welcomed into an afternoon of lavishness.
Incoming bubbly is all well and good, but being served up our first platter and tea without being consulted on which tea(s) we would like to drink wasn’t something The Lady or I could look past. This is high tea, after all – being able to choose one’s preferred brew is absolutely vital to the experience. The default option was earl grey, which coincidentally didn’t align with The Lady’s palate. We had to deliberately ask later on to find out the options – thankfully they exist!
Initial tea kerfuffle aside, the savouries were truly the defining aspect of our experience. Head Chef Elton Inglis is the man behind it all, serving up classic French-influenced dishes – think salmon rillettes, croque monsieurs, macarons & canales. Seems humdrum if I were to stop there, but you’ve seen the pictures: it’s a lot more playful than that.
Sure, the triple-salvo of finger sandwiches more than tickled my cravings for variety, the rillettes made for a seriously refreshing morsel, and the frittatas were essentially cubes of wobbly, cheesey goodness (oh yes, ’twas a good thing); however, the fun part was the quail egg & bacon chutney on top. Bacon’s not something I see at high tea, but I’ll be damned if it’s considered too banal for its inclusion. To heck with convention, and bring on the flavour!
Indeed, that’s exactly what Elton must have been thinking as well, for – much to our surprise – a second savoury platter was brought out, and now we’re really talking full-on, get-your-hands-dirty eating. Are we at a pub or are we at high tea? You know, I love that I could even ask that question – STUDIO high tea is the one experience where I felt like there was actually enough savoury goodness to go around.
The croque monsieur and sticky lamb ribs were worth writing home about – toasted brioche and cheese made for an automatic win, and for that matter so do meat-off-the-bone ribs. The pork sliders were less impressive – not bad – just like every other pork slider I’ve ever had. Still, it’s not like I left it on the plate.
Definitely an exceptional savoury offering – in both meanings of the word.
While the savouries did indeed make for strong first and second acts, the finale of desserts sadly failed to impress. While individual items were tasty and avoided obvious pitfalls such as being overly sweet or dry – the canele in particular was outstanding – there was an over-representation of baked goods, leading to a flat, one-dimensional experience. Cupcakes and muffins and scones are an exercise in redundancy; the experience excessively ‘bready/cakey’.
It would behoove the pastry chefs to introduce some textural variation: consider creamy desserts such as mousses, panna cottas, and custards. Puff, shortcrust and even choux pastries would also be welcome (and are a great way to show off the pastry kitchen’s skills). Introducing fresh fruits would have made a world of difference. Desserts are where chefs can really show off multifaceted technique and interplay of texture & flavour: at STUDIO, there really was only one slant: cakes, cakes and cakes. Well, and a few macarons.
Simply put, there needs to be more variety.
Whatever ends up happening, do keep the caneles – I even ate The Lady’s portion. They absolutely deserve to stay.
- An outstanding savoury selection
- Bubbly on arrival = instant welcoming win
- The location is truly unique, with an intimate ambiance removed from the clamor of city life below
- The dessert selection lags significantly behind savouries
- It’s pricey – you’re really paying for the venue
- Having a staring contest with the sun is not cool. Waitstaff need to be nimble with the blinds (a bigger problem for high tea as STUDIO does not revolve
- Not being asked about tea preferences is an indefensible oversight; the tea selection is also very limited
Would I return: yes, but only for a special occasion given the price point.
F6 | S2 | A3
360 Bar & Dining
[A boo boo on my part caused me to lose most of my photos of this meal, sorry!]
If high tea just isn’t that high on your agenda, don’t rush for ground level yet – stop off just one floor lower and find yourself in the highest of only three rotating restaurants in Sydney: aptly named 360 Bar & Dining. Not to worry, it only makes a complete revolution every hour, so even the most nauseous of diners should find it acceptable.
Bread, with enough poppyseeds to test positive on an opiates examination, the warmth of the bread (yes!) and creaminess of the house-churned butter were ‘I don’t need to take notes’ memorable.
I’m not convinced the flavour combination of cured radish and acidic lime worked together with the Canadian scallops. They also weren’t seared too well – lacking a bit of char, with a bit of remnant mushiness.
[Mains – Steaks from the Grill]
None of the standard mains appealed to us, so we both got steaks from the grill – the ‘Master Kobe’ MBS9+ striploin for me, the black Angus for The Lady. I don’t have pictures, so I’ll just have to convince you with words: the steaks were where it’s at. Great char, great tenderness, and cooked close (though not quite) to our temperature preference. Best of all, flavours were spot-on, beefy and fatty.
The assortment of garnishes (that incredible carrot puree!), including generous sides of fat fries and salad means that frankly as far as I’m concerned, 360 Bar & Dining should be renamed to 360 Bar & Steakhouse.
Celebrating all that is apple, the baked Granny Smith apple was a smorgasbord of pomaceous goodness. Dedicated readers might know that I’m not actually fond of Granny Smith apples, but this dessert managed to mostly nullify this particular cultivar’s proclivity for acidity. Further to that, there’s an abundance of texture that I was on an internal monologue of happiness the entire way.
Going the other way from the Granny Smith’s refreshing nature is ‘the’ token decadent dessert: a pave of nothing less than Valrhona chocolate, salted caramel w/hazelnut ice cream. The pave’s intensity and richness makes ganache watery in comparison; not a bad thing if you’re just having a bite or two. Then again, as arguably the best commercial chocolate brand in the world, Valrhona isn’t kidding around with just how addictively good it is – I thought I was done after each spoonful, but before I knew it, the entire pave somehow ended up ‘falling into my stomach’. Oops.
For people with normal appetites, perhaps order just this dessert, but bring lots & lots of spoons.
360 Bar & Dining and STUDIO high tea are experiences where dining at 300m in the sky is a consideration first and foremost, with the food secondary. However, it needn’t be that way: while it won’t top any recommendation lists from serious gourmands, the French-influenced experiences are unarguably dependable for the most part. The high tea has some serious faults that do need to be fixed (or if our experience was a slip-up, then consistent), but the savouries and welcome champagne could not be faulted.
360 Bar & Dining features great steaks, seriously ‘treat yoself’, no-holds-barred desserts in a revolving restaurant setting that is completely unique in Sydney. It was a meal that quite frankly, made me think twice about the ‘tourist trap’ designation I used to ascribe to 360 Bar & Dining.
I take that back, with full apologies.
This post is based on a complimentary visit to both STUDIO High Tea and 360 Bar & Dining.
What are your thoughts on a revolving restaurant? Let me know in the comments below!
- Steak, steak, steak!
- Dessert, dessert, dessert!
- Revolving Restaurant! Revolving – okay I’ll stop now
- Starters were a pass
- It’s dining at a destination, not destination dining
- Like STUDIO high tea, you may also end up having a staring contest with the sun. Unlike STUDIO high tea, you’re never too long from rotating into shade.
Would I return: yes, most likely to show off to tourists 😛
I have a new scoring system! Read all about it here.
Most important takeaway – three separate scores for food, service and ambiance to give the final score. The new system is not compatible with any score given prior to 11/11/2014.
F6.5 | S4 | A3
- Rated 3 stars
- 360 Bar & Dining
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