Catalina – Unique and Distinctive

A post from No Experts Australian Correspondent

Unique and distinctive, is a frequently used description for the Catalina flying boat, that was so successfully used in the defence of Australia in WWII. In my view, it is also an apt description for this restaurant in Sydney’s Rose Bay. Located next to the Sydney Seaplane’s base, and the site of Sydney’s first international airport,  the Catalina Restaurant is named after the famous flying boats that once operated here.  There are numerous other fabulous waterside restaurants that can boast amazing water views, but what makes this restaurant truly unique in Sydney, is not it’s location, but the fact that it opens all day!  In my search to find a suitable restaurant to take my husband for his 40th birthday lunch, I was to discover that  fine dining restaurant’s that open for lunch on Saturday are as rare as hen’s teeth in Sydney!  Catalina is not only open for lunch, but boasts a kitchen which “remains open from midday to late”. Hurrah!

Despite being nearly 30 minutes late and looking incredibly dishevelled from the boat trip, staff greeted us with a friendly warm welcome. We enjoyed a glass of champagne while deciding what to order.  My husband elected for the Blue Swimmer Crab linguine to start, which was delicious, accompanied by a Rose from Crawford River. I selected the Scallops with Zucchini and goats cheese croquettes, which was perfectly cooked, but a little overwhelmed by huge quantities of tomato puree. The scallops were well matched to a Gruner Veltliner. Judge for yourself, but in my view the portions were huge!
Fortunately the main courses were a little more modest! The beef tenderloin was perfectly cooked, and well balanced with fondant potatoes. The lamb rack a little on the fatty side, but enjoyable none the less. Main courses were accompanied by a very delectable 1998 Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz, recommended by the very patient Sommelier. The wine list at Catalina is wide ranging, and features a substantial number of aged wines, at an equally substantial price. A 1962 Penfolds Bin 60A for five thousand dollars, anyone? Undoubtedly the highlight of the meal was the desserts! The Passion fruit soufflé was a delight to eat, melting in the mouth, and well worth the wait! Raspberry and apple crumble with raspberry sorbet, had just the right balance of tartness and sweet. Not wanting to stir from such a lovely spot, we dragged out lunch until sunset, with a few glasses of Port, and my current favourite, Pedro Ximénez.

Overall a delightful place to spend a relaxed afternoon, watching the sea planes land, and taking in the views. Food was good, but not exceptional. The wine list awe inspiring, but possibly more suited to the wallets of the pop stars that are said to frequent the restaurant. Service was the most formal that we have experienced in Sydney, but at the same time relaxed and incredibly un-pressured. Catalina has certainly perfected the art of the lazy lunch!

Marks out of 10

Food  5.9

Service  7.9

Ambience   8.0

 

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