New years eve and I have never had a good relationship. Last year for the first time ever I decided to spend it in Sydney and somehow managed to reach an all-time low (although to be truthful there was one glimmer of hopeâ€¦.I did have my first pie floater from the institution that is Harryâ€™s Cafe de Wheels on my lonely walk home from the city) .
So this year when I realised that I would probably be in Sydney again you could say that I was a little apprehensive. That was until my dear friend Mands came up with a brilliant idea: a really nice dinner at one of Sydneyâ€™s many fabulous restaurants. Then, regardless of how the rest of the night panned out, there would be good friends sharing good food and good wine. Perfect.
On a summery Saturday night, dressed in my prettiest sparkly party shoes, I metÂ the others at the Tilbury for a cleansing pre dinner ale. We then strolled along the Woolloomooloo finger warf to our table for eight at Otto. Seated in prime position under the stars (nice work Mands!) our evening began with a glass of one of my favourite champagnes: Bollinger. The perfect accompaniment to the 9pm fireworks over the harbour which we were able to enjoy from the comfort of our own table.
Canapes of tartlets filled with creamy scrambelled eggs topped with caviar and tiny crostini with proscuitto were a perfect start to the meal and a sign of what was to follow.
A bottle of 05 Clare Valley riesling from Killikanoon was an excellent fresh citrussy match with our first course: gazpacho con insalata di â€˜marronâ€™. Which translated onto our plates as a beautiful cold green tomato soup with a salad of marron tail (my favourite fresh water crustaceans that are farmed in WA), baby herbs, and roma tomato bejewelled with a sprinkling of pretty pink salmon roe. This was probably my favourite course of the evening with the delicate sweetness of the marron perfectly balanced by the refreshing soup and contrasted with the salty, pleasurable flavour explosions via the salmon roe.
Tonno con capesante was our next treat. A glossy herb rolled loin of the king of fishes: tuna, topped with a seared scallop and finished with a black pepper and red wine dressing. This we enjoyed with a decent earthy pinot noir from the Wairarapa region on New Zealandâ€™s north island.
The secondo piatto was â€˜vitello con pancetta e fegato grassoâ€™ a perfectly decadent dish of tender loin of veal wrapped in pancetta with foie gras served atop a delicious bed of truffled creamy mashed potatoes, accompanied by green asparagus and aÂ heavenly sliver of black truffle. Yum. and with a classic Australian shiraz, even yummer.
Dolce was a real treat. Bundino di panettone is always a favourite and this version of bread and butter pudding was a real winner. Caramel and crispy on the outside and warm custardy pudding on the inside served with dreamy melting cinnamon gelato. Very hard to beat especially when teamed with a Rutherglen muscat from the Campbell family.
Fortunately the disappointment that our beautiful meal was coming to an end was extinguished by the midnight celebrations. The pretty pretty fireworks providing a fitting end to the meal. The only thing that remained was to finish with a tasty macchiato and some lovely petit fours of panforte and chocolate truffles.
After changing into the â€˜Chanel of the thong worldâ€™: our Havaianas, we began the long walk home. Comfortably full and satisfied with the glow of a delicious meal shared in pleasant company, we werenâ€™t tempted in the slightest by the pie floaters calling out from Harrys as we passed by.
This was my first visit to Otto and I loved every minute of it. A truly classy restaurant with great ambiance and attentive service matching the excellence of James Kidmanâ€™s modern italian food.
With the Sydney skyline providing a fabulous backdrop to the boats coming and going and the crowds strolling along the warf Iâ€™d be hard pressed to think of a better location to see in a new year. Looks like 2006 promises to be all good things.
the tilbury hotel
12-18 nicholson st
t. 9368 1041
otto ristorante italiano
6 cowper warf road
t. +61 2 9368 7488