Reunited, and it feels so good: After a separation of what by now must be a good eight weeks or so, the Sydney Morning Herald’s Terry Durack and his favourite restaurant rating, 14/20, finally got back together this week over a nice romantic dinner at – I can’t believe I’m typing these words – Sydney’s new-old revolving restaurant, O Bar and Dining. But while hearts may have been aflutter, conversation lagged: after cracking a few lame jokes about the view, poor Terry was overtaken by nerves and found himself unable to do anything but talk about the menu.
Which to read it sounds fine – fairly pedestrian, but fine – though I doubt Mr and Mrs Prick will be paying a visit anytime soon. I mean really, a revolving restaurant? In 2012? I know the fit-out is legacy thing, but all I can think about when I hear the concept is Hank’s Lookaround Café. If a restaurant’s views often exist in competition with – if not downright opposition to – the quality of the food coming out of the kitchen, a joint that promises a constantly-changing outlook is to be avoided. More to the point, a revolving restaurant is just plain naff. It screams tourist trap: bring in groups from Peoria and serve them up whatever, knowing they’ll likely never be back. Only cities that still have operational monorails, are not ashamed to have jumped on that other unfortunate 1970s trend in touristic architecture, the pointy observation tower, and think nothing says “city on the move” like a new casino go for revolving restaurants … oh yeah, that’s right. It’s Sydneytown, baby!
This is probably being (slightly) unfair to chef-owner Michael Moore. His food may not be particularly progressive or win any awards for creativity – appearances on Mornings with Kerrie-Anne, Junior MasterChef, and Biggest Loser suggest that not frightening the special-occasion suburbanite crowd is his top priority – but he still remains several steps above tourist-trap steam-tray fare. Though as the Prick has noted in the past, the man makes a Reuben sandwich kind of like how Norman Mailer spelled “fuck” in The Naked and the Dead: close, but not quite there.
Back in 1983, the SMH reported that the proprietor of the Summit, Oliver Shaul, claimed he could buy a new Mercedes every year with the profit he made from garlic bread. The place always had a populist approach to food, and was often the butt of poor reviews, even by the standards of restaurants of the day. In 2007 Simon Thomsen begun a review with “Sometimes it’s the little things that turn eating out into culinary water torture.”
There is an old maxim about not eating in floating restaurants or restaurants on top of tall buildings.