The highly regarded restaurant from the Fink Group with Executive Chef Peter Gilmore at the helm, paused for service on 1st of April to undergo a major redesign: taking the dining room, kitchen and guest experience to the next level. The reinvention has given the Fink Group and Peter Gilmore an opportunity to take a new look at fine dining.

“People’s expectations around fine dining are often minding your Ps and Qs, we want to boldly move into uncharted territory in Australian fine dining by thinking outside the box and considering the dining experience as a sum of its parts” says John Fink.

Quay will reopen with a completely transformed dining room, state of the art kitchen and menu format which includes changes to the guest experience.

THE SPACE

The Fink Group worked with one of Australia’s leading architectural firms, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer on the multi-million-dollar refurbishment, the same firm responsible for Bennelong and OTTO Brisbane. The interior was conceived as an organic space reflective of Peter Gilmore’s nature inspired cuisine with added glamour embracing the restaurant’s location in the dress circle of Sydney Harbour.

Working with the brief “the biggest little restaurant in Australia”, Quay’s 100 seat dining room has been reduced to 80 seats across a number of small, intimate dining spaces. Whilst the upper and lower tower still hold 270º views sweeping the harbour, the dining room has been reoriented to open up to the Harbour Bridge, whilst still offering spectacular views of the Opera House.

The bespoke timber ceiling’s organic shape steps up in level to direct the gaze of diners upward and out towards the harbour views. The geometry references the existing curves of the ceiling designed by George Freedman, the original designer of Quay in 1988. Other materials derived from nature include stingray patterned divides, volcanic lava stone detailing glazed with a pattern evocative of cracked bark and a series of blue carpet pools referencing the ocean.

For the first time in Quay’s 30-year history, tables will be kept clear of linen, with beautiful custom timber top tables made from sustainable solid spotted gum by Planet Furniture. In addition, the Fink Group have commission up and coming Australian designer, Adam Goodrum to create “The Quay Chair”. Purpose built for the restaurant in a range of organic colours with chevron detailing to reference the Opera House shells.

The new space also features a ten-seat private dining room that faces the Sydney Opera House. The room features wall to ceiling mirrors and an elliptical table famed for its democratic intentions.

In following on from the Fink Group’s passion for art, the restaurant entrance is framed by Bronwyn Oliver’s “Tide” artwork; the signature piece that the Quay logo has been modelled from. The restaurant will also feature the captivating Teamlab animation, Four Seasons. Displayed in Quay’s upstairs event space, the piece is based on the rice fields of Tashibunosho, with the digital artwork synchronising with the actual sunrise, sunset and weather of the Japanese town. “Only three exist in Australia, we are lucky to showcase one at Quay” adds Fink.

THE EXPERIENCE

Group General Manager of the Fink Group, Jeremy Courmadias describes the new direction of the Quay dining experience as “underpinned by a generous dose of humble, personalised hospitality aligned with a sense of understated luxury”.

The new era for Quay gave the Fink Group an opportunity to reshape how service could be delivered in this environment. “There is an association with fine dining that often overwhelms people, as a family business it was important to ensure
guests feel comfortable and relaxed in order to enjoy and appreciate the Quay experience.” says Courmadias. Service was deeply considered when rebuilding all parts of the restaurant, “It’s personalised, it’s about reading the guest and individualising the service accordingly to how they want to experience Quay”.

This approach drove the decision to create intimate dining spaces, each of which are looked after individually by a dedicated manager. “I have found in my travels that the best service has always come in smaller, more personal restaurants where you can engage with the staff” adds Fink.

To further emphasise the personal experience, each table features independently controlled lighting which changes throughout the evening. “Lighting plays a big role in a dining experience; when you arrive, you want to be able to read the menu. As the meal progresses so does the lighting, by the end of the night, it’s moody and relaxed. We have added those luxurious items guests didn’t even know they needed” adds John.

Quay will be led by General Manager Nadine Stegmeier, Restaurant Manager Sharon Collins, and a stellar front of house team including Ali Pinnington, Anna O’Donnell and new face Tom Wright, ex General Manager from St John in London, plus a passionate team of 35.

THE MENU

Peter Gilmore has created a menu that is a progression of rare and beautiful ingredients where texture, flavour and harmony is paramount. The signature ten-course tasting menu will guide the diner through his new dishes. Additionally, a six-course menu with a choice of main will be available Sunday to Thursday for dinner, and Friday to Sunday for lunch.

Whilst Quay’s menu has had endless reinvention over the years, the renovation has given Chef Gilmore the opportunity to reinvent his food and start again. “Wiping the slate clean was a huge challenge, but ultimately very rewarding. It gave me the opportunity to revaluate everything from the smallest detail up,” says Peter Gilmore.

Continually inspired by nature, the creative process for chef Gilmore began with working closely alongside the farmers, fishermen, producers and artisans who cultivate bespoke produce exclusively for Quay. From there launched a long journey of testing and refinement, imagination and flashes of inspiration. For each dish, the growth of every element and the creation of every ceramic piece was carefully considered and crafted for its role in the dining experience.

For months leading up to the opening, Chef Gilmore worked closely with ceramic artists, Paul Davies & Jacqueline Clayton from Red shed Studio Jam, Malcom Greenwood and Ben Richardson to design bespoke ceramics for each dish. A continuation of Gilmore’s philosophy, he also worked with a number of producers to cultivate produce for the menu including Newcastle Greens who grew red speckled peas that feature on the ten-course menu with miso and anchovy. An heirloom variety of Japanese Tennouji turnips were also grown to order by Epicurean Harvest for a dish of sand crab, kombu, squid, Wakefield cabbage.

The dining experience begins with a dish that emphasis the new direction and philosophy of the food. An unknown fact is that like many others, Chef Gilmore dislikes the texture of oysters but values the flavour. As oysters are often enjoyed at the start of the meal, he wanted to challenge himself to serve an oyster but, in a way, that he could enjoy it. He approached it as an oyster intervention, “the flavour to stay, but the texture to change”.

A beautiful hand crafted ceramic oyster shell is presented to the diner with the imagination of Chef Gilmore’s perfect oyster. The dish involves a silky oyster cream topped with an oyster crackling made from the frill of the oyster. The dish is topped with Ossetra caviar for an added sense of luxury and intense umami note. The oyster is then eaten with a hand-crafted mother of pearl spoon.

One of the biggest challenges that Chef Gilmore faced in retiring the snow egg was replacing it with something that he felt was its equal. “This dish took the longest to evolve and get right, I’m calling it White Coral” says Gilmore. “The dish is a very light white chocolate ganache that has been super aerated under vacuum and then frozen with liquid nitrogen. The effect is a light, porous structure that resembles an organic piece of white coral. This is served on a feijoa ice cream with a coconut cream. The white coral is shattered with a spoon by the diner and the flavours of feijoa, coconut and white chocolate harmonize in a light and refreshing yet intense way” adds Gilmore.

The new incarnation of Quay brings a welcome change; a chance to create a more personal, interactive passage for diners through Peter Gilmore’s culinary evolution. Peter Gilmore is supported by Chef de Cuisine, Rob Kabboord, Senior Sous Chefs, Tim Misfud and Troy Crisante and a brigade of 35 chefs.

The Quay wine list mirrors Peters Gilmore’s approach to championing locally sourced produce while still tipping its cap to international styles. The emphasis is showcasing quality examples that communicate a sense of place and time. In keeping with the new restaurant philosophy, three beverage matches have been created for the guest to enjoy – Temperance – Quay’s non alcoholic offering; a round of drinks – showcasing the unsung heroes of the beverage world: a collection of brewed, fermented, distilled and blended; and the Quay pairing – a partnership of wine both local and international, traditional and modern.

The 500+ wine list will be updated weekly by Head Sommelier, Shanteh Wong with assistance by Assistant Head Sommelier Seamus Brandt. Amanda Yallop will oversee both Quay and other Fink Group venues in her newly appointed role as Group Wine Director. Leading the bar team, Taka Shino has crafted a cocktail list of 20 drinks to enhance the dining experience.

From the 19th of July, Quay will open for dinner, seven nights a week from 6pm. Lunch will open from the 3rd of August, Friday through to Sunday from 12pm – 2pm.

TIP: Tables for two are in high demand and are usually the first to book out. Tables for four are more readily available. If your requested date is unavailable, gather friends or family for a table of four.

Source: Quay