Solander Dining is set within the West Hotel, a boutique designer upmarket Hotel by Hilton, situated close to Barangaroo.
Solander can be aptly described as suave and sophisticated with art deco styling, complete with velvet lounge chairs, oak tables, tan leather menus, herringbone marble floors and unique lighting fixtures. The dining space is designed around a long fully stocked bar and even an indoor feature palm garden. This, combined with a dimly lit room oozes style and class.
The space is further enhanced by a live music set infront of the well lit bar. As you enter the room, the music warmly greets and soothes you with classic jazz tunes provided on the night by skilled musician Michael Duchesne, who happened to front our wedding band a few years back. It is perfect to provide a chilled atmosphere during your dining experience. If you aren’t there for the full dining experience, you can also order a cocktail, spirit, wine or beer and a few bar bites to enjoy with friends.
Solander Dining was named after 18th century botanist Daniel Solander, a explorer who travelled to Australia on the Endeavour ship with Joseph Banks and was a key individual in researching and documenting Australian flora and fauna. This restaurant explores Australian flora and fauna, but in a culinary sense. The menu is split into flora – vegetable dishes and fauna – protein based.
The chefs, led by executive chef David Vandenabeele have done their research to locate and source the freshest native produce, incorporating the ingredients into their menu. Using banksia, acacia, salt bush, Karkalla leaves, lemon Myrtle, native finger line, Kakadu plum to flavour the dishes, makes for lovely flavour combinations. For the proteins, the menu highlights some amazing meats such as wallaby, rib eye and venison. From the seafood list, you can try Sydney rock oysters, kingfish or the amazing bugs.
You can easily do the 6 course tasting menu for $110 to explore the menu if you aren’t sure but we ordered a number of dishes a la carte so we could try lots of dishes.
We always judge restaurants on the bread. For it to be quality, it simply has to be fresh bread made in house. The bread here is an absolute highlight. The delicious fresh bread is baked in a flowerpot with hints of Banksia and Acacia flavours. Just amazing.
On to strarters and we ate the best dish we have come across this year! A stunning plate of charred bugs cooked in chilli butter with bush tomatoes. This seafood offering is perfectly cooked with the flesh sliding out of the shell with little encouragement, and even less encouragement once we had a taste. Even better, this dish can be ordered as a main. We will most certainly be back specifically for these bugs.
The entree list has many great options, including the gin cured salmon which is another inspired offering, well seasoned and served with pickled cucumber and native karkalla leaves and lemon myrtle.
From the main list, the mountain pepper spiced venison rack came deboned, cut into small slices, and well prepared. Beautifully plated with butternut squash, the venison topped with the tartness of the Davidson plumb and finished with lovely jus.
We also decided on a fish dish of seared king fish, skin very crisp, served in a silky lemon butter and served with delicate champagne poached oysters, a uniquely decadent plate of food.
If you are hungry enough to order some sides, do yourself a favour and order the Warrigal greens, they are something to savour, with sweetness of the fermented black garlic.
The desserts all very intriguing, especially with the use of native ingredients. The strawberry plate immediately grabbed our attention, with strawberries prepared in many ways, fresh, caramelised, in a short cake and served with and earl grey jelly and pearl barley, which gives a nice toasty flavour and texture, as does the delicate chickpea meringue.
There wasn’t anything delicate about the acacia chocolate fondant, and with good reason, it’s indulgent and very rich with intense flavours and a bold blackberry sorbet, a powerful dessert indeed.
Solander Dining and bar is such a sophisticated venue, well suited for a drink and some live music, in stylish surrounds. The restaurant is great for a bite, be it small or a degustation and the food is extremely high quality. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We also love that they hero ingredients native to Australia. Impressive on all levels, be sure to place this high on your bucket list.
West Hotel Sydney, 65 Sussex Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 8297 6500