SOLANDER DINING AND BAR is a recently opened flora and fauna fine dining restaurant located in the WEST HOTEL SYDNEY. It is a truly unique dining experience that combined some amazing natives to provide flavours you probably haven’t experienced before. Huge thank you to Solander, West Hotel and Kreate PR for inviting myself and my dining guest, good mate Laarni, to experience a meal very different from the norm.
SOLANDER DINING AND BAR VENUE:
When you enter the WEST HOTEL and make your way to SOLANDER DINING AND BAR you will notice that basically no expense has been spared in crafting a superbly appointed hotel and restaurant. Wood and marble parquetry in gemstone tones is just the start of the architecture from Fitzpatrick + Partners. WEST Hotel is the first boutique hotel to be built in Sydney since QT in 2012. It is owned by Singaporean shipping magnate turned hotelier Michael Kum and he has created a jewel, quite literally. The outside is designed to represent a jewels cut – or as the Financial Times describes it “a giant Chanel handbag – one of those black quilted leather ones – plonked on the footpath.”
Everywhere I looked I was dazzled by tones, textures and sublime architectural wonder. I want my house to look like this, when I can afford a house, and then an architect.
The restaurant seats 72 people in varying configurations and we sat on some incredibly comfortable sofa seats that are more like one and half seaters. We could spread out and have an intimate dining experience while being pampered by exceptional staff. While our waitperson could not answer everything from the questions I kept hitting him up with about the next courses he went to the kitchen, found out, and then thanked us for expanding his menu knowledge. We loved our waiter and sommelier, both elevated our experience.
THE MEANING OF THE NAME AND THEIR PHILOSOPHY:
The name SOLANDER DINING AND BAR comes from an appreciation and dedication to Botanist Daniel Solander (1733-1782). Solander was a naturalist who was integral to the early documentation and collection of
Australian plants. He was on the Endeavour as the assistant of Joseph Banks in collecting specimens and naming most of the flora and fauna we know of today. An accomplished linguist Solander was responsible for a lot of the Latin names of collected specimens on Captain Cook’s famous voyage.
The restaurant has a certain tone to it of botany. You will notice botanical displays and art of native flowers throughout the entire hotel.
And this spreads to the food of SOLANDER DINING AND BAR.
The Modern Australian all-day dining restaurant showcases locally sourced, fresh seasonal produce and Australian botanicals to create internationally inspired dishes. The food philosophy focuses on carefully selected products that are of the highest quality, nourishing for guests and mindful of food origins.
The Solander Bar offers bespoke botanical inspired cocktails, non-alcohol cocktails and a range of boutique Australian and international spirits, wines and craft beers. You can sip your drinks seated at the stunning emerald green terrazzo marble bar, or sit in the open-air atrium surrounded by lush green foliage. Wherever you are it’s going to be win win.
WHAT WE ORDERED:
Explorer Menu $110 without wine pairing (min two people) – no pricing available on wine pairing. We requested it.
Freshly Baked Banksia and Acacia Pot Bread with Black Garlic Butter
Kangaroo Tail Rillette with Bush Tomato and Fig Chutney. Paired with Moppity Vineyards 2016 Chardonnay
Double-boiled Wallaby Broth with Quail Egg, Enoki Mushrooms and Goji Berries. Paired with Nautilus 2017 Sauvignon Blanc
Gin Cured Salmon with Cucumber, Karkalla Leaves and Lemon-Myrtle
Aioli. Paired with Pencarrow 2017 Pinot Noir
Seared Kingfish with Sydney Rock Oysters, Asparagus and Pickled
Lemon Butter Sauce. Paired with Pencarrow 2017 Pinot Noir
Young Henry’s Braised Pork Cheeks with Potato Fondant, Shiitake
Mushrooms and Kakadu Plum. Paired with John Duval Wines 2016 Plexus
Strawberry Plate with Earl Grey Tea, Puffed Barley and Chickpea
Meringue. Paired with Glenguin 2017 Botrytised Semillon
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
We found the wine pairings just marvellous. I loved all of them but found the John Duval Wines 2016 Plexus too overpowering for the pork dish so stayed on the Pencarrow 2017 Pinot Noir through the final main. I personally felt it worked much better. The Plexus is actually a SGM made from Shiraz 53%, Grenache 29%, Mourvedre 18%. The pork cheek would have worked better with less of the shiraz accompanying it.
The Pinot and the Moppity Vineyards 2016 Chardonnay were two wines I loved and will be adding to the cellar and the Glenguin 2017 Botrytised Semillon is something I already have at home, purchasing a couple on a recent Hunter Valley trip. Sticky wines are my jam.
It all started with the most brilliantly presented bread I have ever seen. Actually cooked inside a terracotta pot it is emptied out, still steaming, at the table. It was this first bite of the bread that I realised this wasn’t going to be a run of the mill dining experience. I mean – have you ever heard of Banksia and Acacia Bread before? Get some black garlic butter on it and you will be a happy camper.
I actually ended up spreading the Kangaroo Tail Rillette on to the bread with it’s amazing chutney. A rillette is basically a chunky paté made from cubed meat. Most commonly it is made from pork but the kangaroo worked a treat and I was surprised it did not look more red in colour. And a wonderful use of the tail for utilising the entire animal.
Entrees continued…. favourite dish:
The Double-boiled Wallaby Broth with Quail Egg, Enoki Mushrooms and Goji Berries won as my dish of the day. It was so unique and refined it should have been a Japanese dish but we can claim this one. On the bottom of our bowls was the Quail Egg, Enoki Mushrooms and Goji Berries along with some small pieces of wallaby (I believe) and the broth itself came in a glass teapot that you poured yourself. I fell in love with this dish. Any food dish with an egg in it and I tend to fall in love but I was also impressed by the subtle fleshy flavours of the wallaby, a somewhat lesser gaminess than Kangaroo based on this meal.
Finishing off was the Gin Cured Salmon with Cucumber, Karkalla Leaves and Lemon-Myrtle Aioli and really this should have been my dish of the day as it contains two of my all time favourite things; Gin and Lemon Myrtle. It was nice but didn’t knock my socks off. The one surprising element to this dish was the Karkalla leaves – they are actually the leaves of the Pigface plant that lines the edges of most sand dunes in Australia. They are an odd rubbery tubular leaf and the plant has bright pink flowers, didn’t even know you could eat them!
We were already getting full by this stage but we soldiered on with glee. Sadly, the Seared King Fish with Sydney Rock Oysters, Asparagus and Pickled Lemon Butter Sauce was my least favourite dish. I found it too fishy and the hot oyster just weirded me out – Laarni ate most of this one and loved it. I polished off the asparagus.
Rounding out the mains was a another trip to the unique with Young Henry’s Braised Pork Cheeks with Potato Fondant, Shiitake Mushrooms and Kakadu Plum. Usually it would be beef cheeks for a cheek’s meal but I may have found a new favourite. It was so delightfully tender and the Kakadu Plum sauce gets big ticks from the both of us.
The dessert mostly disappointed me sadly. The thing with Solander is everything is made healthy by embracing their philosophy in the kitchen but when I order a strawberry dessert I expect it to be sweet and it just wasn’t. My expectations were underwhelmed by the final product and my entire life as a slave to the sweet. The strawberries themselves were the sweetest part, as was the sticky wine I kept enjoying. The sorbet bordered closer to savoury than sweet and the cake looking item on the plate was basically a sweetless strawberry bread. This was much healthier for me than what my expectations wanted but it left me wanting a dessert that embraced sugar.
SOLANDER DINING AND BAR is a unique marvel of cuisine that embraces the best of Australian flora and fauna. Everything has a somewhat healthy touch to it and while you may be left disappointed your dessert wasn’t as sweet as you would expect I imagine your body and heart will thank you for it later. I would definitely return to Solander.
SOLANDER BAR AND DINING DEETS:
PH: 02 8297 6500
65 Sussex Street Sydney NSW 2000
PRICING: Fine Dining – most expensive meal is $43 for Mountain Pepper Spiced Venison Rack. Or the Explorer Degusation Menu at $110- per person.
Monday – Friday
630 – 1030am
Saturday – Sunday
630 – 11am
12 – 230pm
6 – 10pm
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes
LOCAL DELIVERY: No
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes
KID FRIENDLY: Not really
BYO: No – Fully Licensed
*** Spooning Australia dined as a Guest of SOLANDER BAR AND DINING ***
For more reviews of Sydney Restaurants – check them out HERE