THE CALYX, located in The Royal Botanic Garden of Sydney, is a wonderful piece of architecture among the many gardens and flora of this epic Sydney destination. But you might not know that they also have a restaurant that is disguised as a cafeteria counter.
THE CALYX VENUE:
The venue was built around the site of the Arc Glasshouse, in the south western corner of the garden. Intelligent, sensitive architecture has replaced the Tropical Centre pyramid and foyer.
The Calyx is an integrated mix of indoor and outdoor areas, with flora exhibitions changing on a regular basis, reinventing itself through emotively themed exhibitions.
The venue itself is not a restaurant, it is a Botanic Garden space. The flora exhibitions are a drawcard and I have now been three times for different exhibitions – I even traveled in purely to see an Amorphophallus plant in bloom. They are the corpse flowers that smell like rotting flesh when they bloom haha. Small unknown fact – I grow them. I have 40 plants and 4 species, which I aim to increase soon!! But, I digress! The venue is a modern piece of architecture and designed to modernise the gardens with something beautiful that can be used as a floral exhibition space as well as a function centre.
It is known for weddings, corporate functions, the beautiful displays in the glass house section and then it is probably least known as a restaurant. In fact – even the way it is currently designed you still won’t think it houses a restaurant. It looks more like a tourist cafeteria counter serving coffees, pastries and delivered package sandwiches and wraps. But well and TRULY hidden is a kitchen that actually creates some decent meals.
THE SHEER BEAUTY THAT IS THE ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS:
If you live in Sydney and don’t regularly visit the Royal Botanic Gardens you are seriously missing out. It is one of the major tourist destinations of overseas visitors and walking around is an amazing experience, hell, just take a book and sit under a tree that’s a couple of hundred years old and soak it all in. The gardens will energise the soul!
It is situated on the first European garden that was established by Governor Phillip in 1788!!! While the garden failed the Botanic Garden officially opened on the spot in 1816, the garden is the oldest scientific institution in Australia and one of the most important historic botanical institutions in the world. It is open every day of the year and access is free. Its stunning position on Sydney Harbour and immediately adjacent to the Sydney CBD, the Sydney Opera House and the large public parklands of The Domain ensure it is one of the most visited attractions in Sydney.
Do yourself a favour and schedule a visit – take some kids, take yourself, take a picnic or visit The Calyx for lunch!
DEFINITLEY ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT:
I am getting to the food, which was wonderful by the way, but the venue as a food destination is in need of some improvement. We visited on the day of a function so couldn’t sit near the floral displays of The Calyx and were seated outside. This was nice, the water display is in front and we could appreciate the architecture but I wanted those flowers and gardens in my actual and camera. Next was the counter itself, it spells out takeaway snacks and nothing indicates it is a delightful restaurant.
And most importantly, when trying to portray a somewhat fine dining restaurant, the wooden disposable cutlery was a failure. My wooden fork snapped in half cutting the brisket and I had to get more. The venue did indicate they were already looking into this so I do hope they have replaced with silverware.
Finally the one thing I would suggest to improve The Calyx as a food venue would be for the The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney to actually give it some more website space to promote it, perhaps it’s own Instagram and Facebook page. There is no menu to be located online and besides locating a promotion for High Tea in The Calyx on Fri/Sat/Sun I can find nothing promoting or advertising the venue as a place to eat regularly. The menu on Zomato is from when it must have originally opened – it is a snack menu – this would adversely effect decisions to attend.
WHAT WE ORDERED:
- Juice (from bottles) and coffees
- Chicken Katsu sliders with miso onion, slaw and sriracha
- Korean fried chicken drumettes and sesame
- Braised brisket with spicy red cabbage topped with wonton noodle crisps and peanuts
- Spiced squid salad, Thai he’s (no idea what that is?? – menu typo?), grapefruit, pickled carrot and daikon plus cashew
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
The menu is light, healthy and mostly Asian inspired. We found it more tapas style and ordering four dishes was a good choice for us ever growing lads.
Everything we ordered had a light spice to it and I LOVED this. The squid was amazingly warm and the pairing with the grapefruit salad was a stroke of genius. The sliders were amazing and I really needed a half-dozen to truly appreciate them. The fried chicken drumettes were easily my favourite – such wonderful warm spice, I need these babies again! The brisket, after initially breaking my wooden fork, appeared dry and I was worried but the appearance disguised how wonderful it actually was, super tender and wonderfully flavoured and the salad that accompanied it was delicious with a nice textured crunch from the wonton crisps!
My guests wasn’t fond of his coffee and I have read a couple of other reviews that weren’t terribly favourable of the coffee. From Simon Food Favourite’s review I believe it is Double Roaster’s Coffee in use. They could work on the coffee a bit. If they served epic coffee to match the epicness of the venue it would definitely entice more people and spread via word of mouth.
The Calyx was a nice surprise venue in The Royal Botanic Gardens, one of the most beautiful places in Sydney. Even if the food was atrocious people would still love visiting. Luckily the food is a delicious Asian inspired treat. There is a lot of improvements that could make this a food destination as well as a flora destination as opposed to this solely being a flora destination that serves food.
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 2/3 food, 1/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 1/1 toilets and 0/1 bonus
The Calyx Deets:
PH: 02 9231 8111
Royal Botanic Gardens, Mrs Macquaries Road, CBD, Sydney, NSW
BOOKINGS: Yes – Check with venue
7 Days 7am – 8pm (food is from 11am to 5pm but I am sure they will do coffee earlier) – the operational hours are seasonal – check on venue website as in winter I imagine hours will be shorter
LOCAL DELIVERY: No
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes – limited
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes – limited
KID FRIENDLY: Yes
*** JK (and any guests of Spooning Australia) were invited guests of the establishment and/or any PR agencies representing them. However, as always, if it was shite I would happily tell you as such ***
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