Michael Moore is not only a very talented Chef, successful cookbook author, and impressive worldwide advocate for the dietary management of diabetes, but also is a very savvy restaurateur as well. The appointment of Darren Templeman (ex Restaurant Atelier) as Head Chef at O Bar and Dining, who previously worked in all the major London kitchens, under the legendary Chefs who forged modern cuisine as we know it, has reiterated his intention to relentlessly strive for excellence. In doing so, the standard perception surrounding revolving restaurants has been cast aside by some of the best executed and innovative cuisine in Sydney. The fact that it comes with a jaw dropping view is an added bonus, as the primary focus is absolutely where it should be; on the plate.
Australia Square, a timeless addition to Sydney’s skyline since 1967, from iconic architect Harry Seidler, is a testimony to a time when the city was looking to make a statement and establish its modern identity. Mark McConnell from Mima Design, was given the brief of creating a vibrant and stylish ambience, casting aside the more staid tones of The Summit Restaurant, and providing a bolder and more contemporary space. Working in collaboration with owner Michael Moore on the smallest details, the new generation of demographic that frequent O Bar and Dining is a vindication of that vision. It is accompanied by music that loudly pumps like the heartbeat, of the stunningly beautiful city it presides over.
Starting with rich rare breed pork rillettes, contrasted with kimchi style fermented vegetables, it is an introductory nod to Chef Darren Templeman’s past and present food styles. Formerly underpinned by more classical French techniques, it is now far more nuanced with delicate Asian influences. It is far lighter, yet has more complex flavour profiles, and unmistakably has now found its own voice. Red pepper hummus with smoked chilli, fetta and chickpeas pays homage to Michael Moore’s vision of healthy eating, that does not compromise on quality or taste. An ‘Ode to Whitmarsh’, a like-minded nose to tail chef in Adelaide who recently featured at O Bar in a pop-up, comprising of crispy pigs ear, black garlic, davinci caviar, is intelligent, decadent and brilliant.
Sashimi of pristine pink snapper with scorched avocado, finger limes and crispy tapioca is the epitome of the shared Moore and Templeman philosophy. Sublimely fresh produce, with clean flavours, that is not only joyous and healthy, but guilt free. Similarly, Sake cured cobia with shaved blood plum, wild rice, wasabi and nashi once again ticks all those boxes. House-made soy tofu with marinated spinach, toasted seeds, dashi and fragrant basil is just as innovative, well executed and indicative of an alternative style that diners with blood sugar issues have been deprived of for far too long.
The cocktail bar heaves during the night with those wanting a different experience, with a mix of Spanish tapas, Turkish mezze and Asian influenced yum cha, offering exactly the same quality through a diversity of shared plates. The service in the bar and restaurant, observed over two well-spaced visits, has improved immeasurably, providing the seamless and professional transition that is required at this level. One could not help but notice from walking the restaurant, that service was genuinely being embraced by the staff, rather than endured, as can often be the case in a restaurant of this size.
Gently steamed fillets of garfish with wild rice, golden sultanas and chimichurri, demonstrate a lightness of touch that resonates throughout the entire menu. Roasted split marron is sweet and tender, with anjeo chilli, zucchini escabeche and hass avocado counterpointing and elevating those elements. Master Kobe wagyu rump tartare with “Korean flavours”, avocado, and avocado oil, pickled chilli, mint, coriander and puffed beef tendon, is playfully presented in a stylish level 47 take on san choy bow. After his time spent with Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa, no one in Sydney, East or West, is doing steamed chawanmushi better than Chef Darren Templeman. This take on the spiritual connection between the land and sea, with white miso beef salad, sea urchin and lotus root, is an incredibly thoughtful and sigh worthy dish.
Milly Hill lamb rump with sheep’s yoghurt, cumin, okra and sprouted lentils is a light-hearted modern take on a British style curry, but produce of this quality, cooked so innovatively is not leaving the country on my shift! Likewise, the Grasslands organic 28 day dry aged grass-fed rib eye, is without peer, and in my opinion is the best value for this level of quality in town. Sweet set vanilla tofu with lychees, wild rice, strawberry and rose jelly cleanses the palate beautifully. Hazelnut gelato with praline sponge, tonka beans and raw cocoa offers a slightly richer perspective, without falling into the trap of becoming too heavy. A perfectly risen, hot plum soufflé with crème fraiche ice cream, and rich zokoko chocolate, is a deserved finish to a spectacular meal devoid of one miss which is incredibly rare.
O Bar and Dining has realised its potential. This is intelligent, sophisticated and unique food, plated with care and precision, that deserves to be taken seriously from a food critique standpoint. The original concept and philosophy have now matured into a restaurant of the highest standards, that will not only become a destination dining venue for visitors from interstate and abroad, but for food savvy locals. Health, style, produce and individuality intersect on the plate, which may well just be a glance into the future expectations of the modern diner. Clearly, the synergy between Michael Moore and Darren Templeman offers the diner a new perspective on dining, that they can count on to be both healthy, and memorable.
Level 47, Australia Square
264 George Street, Sydney
Monday to Sunday from 5.30pm, Friday from 12 noon
Bar & Tapas 7 nights from 5.30pm
(02) 9247 9777