The Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay in Sydney is one of the big 5 Star Hotels of the CBD, shhhh, it’s about to get a full renovation and be even more spectacular, BUT, downstairs from the hotel is their CUSTOMS HOUSE BAR, a venue for fine alcohol and food. It is a more relaxed pub atmosphere that is not too uptight 5 Star but has a more relaxed CBD corporate pub vibe going on. For me this is the perfect place for Friday afternoon business lunches or after-work gatherings, it is quite large handling up to 350 people, has an impressive array of alcohol and alcoholic art in a glass and also some fine food that is not too expensive but also impressive and tasty.
It is with huge thanks to one of my brethren from the Noisy Instagram Mafia, Andrew aka Asian Food Ninja @asianfoodninja, that I got to join about a dozen of Sydney’s finest foodies to indulge, laugh, feast and be happy at CUSTOMS HOUSE BAR, I love it when all the food bloggers and grammers get together, the general public looks at us like zoo animals with all of us shooting food from different angles with lighting and poses and pouring liquids, it is a unique experience and it is great to do it amongst similarly minded people.
The alcohol served at CUSTOMS HOUSE BAR is impressive, they take the liquid joy seriously and I indulged in their Sangria above ($16-), a Sangria that is brewed once a week and has some serious flavour, they make a slightly tart version of Sangria that is what I would consider more traditional but it does come with a small jar of sweetened berry liquid you can add to sweeten up the concoction, bloody loved it and would have happily continued drinking it all night if I wasn’t in need of an early 430am wake up for work. Above is also their Bronx Cocktail – Tanqueray Gin, Orange, Sweet and Dry Vermouth for ($18-).
Be sure to also ask them about their new cocktails using unique ice blocks and chilli, truly impressive but my photo of it wasn’t up to scratch.
As for the food you would normally order it and eat it at your table, for us it was a sampling feast so everything came out and filled the very long dark table so lit it as best we could and took as many photos for the all the food to go cold and then we indulged :). Above is the Pork Neck Croquette Bites with Chipotle aioli ($15-), the Quinoa and Wild Rice Tabouleh with tiger prawns, figs, roasted pumpkin, goat’s cheese with sundried tomato dressing for $25-. The salad itself is $16- and you can choose to have on its own or add either smoked salmon, fire-roasted chicken or the tiger prawns, we got the prawns and I am stoked we did, they were incredible.
Along with the spectacular salad and croquettes was the Pizza Carnivore: pepperoni, prosciutto, chorizo, smoked sausages for ($21-), another amazing dish that I would order any day of the week. The croquettes were a good starter and the chipotle aioli was a superb dipping sauce for them, the salad and the pizza would be on my menu selections, having figs in a salad will always sway me, add prawns and I may start dry humping the menu.
Below is the CUSTOM HOUSE BAR Wagyu Burger: swiss cheese, whisky onions, grilled pineapple & beetroot chutney + beer battered chips ($21-). Great ingredients and it looked good, if I was starting hungry for lunch I would enjoy this and the accompanying fries but on the Sydney burger scale it came off as a little standard, I think if they swapped for an American cheese and had a slightly smaller patty this would be a winner, I also do not remember pineapple being in the burger? It also never helps that we ate it about 20mins after delivery due to pics, the patty was probably over-rested and lost some of its flavours. On burger scoring I would rate this a 3.5/5.
We also tried the Grilled Chicken Breast Sandwich: cucumber yogurt slaw, lemon zest, 6 seeds bun + chips ($20-), sadly I would only order this for lunch if I was on a serious diet, a little dry (also due to over resting no doubt) but the meat to bun ration was a little off and this was one of the least liked meals by the foodstagrammers. Another dish I did not shoot well enough to publish was the CUSTOMS HOUSE BAR Charcuterie: mini chorizo, boerewor sausage, prosciutto de parma, house made pickles ($25-). This dish was sublime, a true meat joy that I need to eat again.
I missed out on the Vegetable Burger: avocado, zucchini, grilled haloumi, aioli, tomato-capsicum relish + chips (19-) but the haloumi interests me – LOVE it on a burger. I also didn’t try the Corn-Fed chicken stuffed with fetta, semi dried tomato, basil with quinoa salad + preserved lemon & yoghurt dressing for $25-. It looked nice, similar to the prawn salad but I was advised it was dry side so skipped it, it was also a dish too hard to share, it is a meal for one to sit down and eat with knife and fork, not like us uncouth pigs shoving things in left right and centre. I wanted to try everything but the big belly can only handle so much and then there was the two remaining dishes…….
The two final dishes were hands down my favourite dishes of the evening, the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast with Customs house relish, 3 Pieces ($20-) 6 Pieces ($35-), is close to the best chicken I have ever eaten, definite top five. It was the most moist and flavoursome chicken and when a dozen food bloggers ask if we can get more you know you are on to a fantastic dish – ORDER THIS IF YOU ARE AT CUSTOMS HOUSE BAR, you will not be disappointed.
And to accompany it, get the Slow Braised Beef Short rib with spicy green beans and toasted pine nut salt for ($22-). It was like eating meat butter, I walked to that end of the table to try it and it was all gone, my fat food brethren had inhaled it, so we did our best Oliver “Please sir, I want so more,” and unlike the Oliver movie the meat apparated like in a Hogwart’s feast and HOLY COW I could live on this dish, you just had to look at it for the meat to fall apart. 5 Star dishes, the Chicken Breasts and the Beef Short Ribs, amazing!
The venue has great indoor and outdoor areas and if I worked in the CBD I could see myself being a regular here before catching the ferry home, it is way above average gourmet pub grub, fantastic drinks, impressive service (*cute staff) and it’s in a great area. You can’t ask for more than that. It should also be known that CUSTOMS HOUSE BAR is set inside one of Sydney’s oldest pubs, originally opening in 1846.
Thanks again to Andrew and the venue for a fantastic evening.
Customs House Bar Deets:
Marriott Sydney Harbour, 17 Macquarie Place, CBD, Sydney, NSW
Phone: (02) 9259 7317
Mon – Wed: 11am to 10pm
Thur/ Fri: 11am to late
*** JK (and any guests of Spooning Australia) were invited guests of the establishment, however, as always, if it was shite I would happily tell you as such.