Whether you have a special reason or just want to impress your date, then choosing the right restaurant can make or break that date. A top restaurant should not only offer exceptional food, great service and a stunning interior, it usually offers a sensational view.
Catalina is situated on multi million dollar harbourfront real estate in Rose Bay and is guaranteed to impress whether you have known your date half an hour or 50 years. My partner had booked this restaurant as a surprise for my birthday. When I was told where we were going, I knew it would be a day I'd always remember.
If desired you can arrive by ferry as the Rose Bay ferry wharf is right next to the restaurant. Of course, you can also arrive by car, bus or taxi. There is plenty of parking outside - free for 2 hours and I did see some 4-hour spaces. If you really want to go all out to impress, you can arrive by Seaplane. Sydney Seaplanes is right next to Catalina.
On this occasion, we chose to make our own way there, enjoying a leisurely stroll along the promenade before arriving.
We were greeted at the door by a handsome well-dressed Restaurant Manager that looked like he just stepped out of the best Savile Row tailors. He welcomed us inside where more distinguished staff greeted us in a similar manner. The restaurant's atmosphere sets the stage, the view is breathtaking and the buzz of well-dressed patrons enjoying pre- lunch drinks makes you feel rather special. It was a crisp winter's day and the sea was alive with boats and Seaplanes.
Catalina - image credit: Seafarrwide
It was really magic. I have to admit that even though I have had the pleasure of eating out at many top restaurants I was still a little speechless admiring the view. The last time I visited Catalina it was at least 30 years ago as an awkward teenager. Even though it was an iconic restaurant back then, now under the ownership of Michael and Judy McMahon this restaurant is now known as one Sydney's best. The McMahons have a proven history of owning and running top restaurants such as Perry's, Barrenjoey House and managing Berowra Water's Inn and Bilson's for several years. Finally purchasing Catalina in 1994.
I believe a great restaurant is not all about the food, it also comes down to the experienced staff. This restaurant noticeably has highly knowledgeable and skilled staff There was a waiter to offer us water, a different waiter offered the menus and took our first order of Prosecco. Another waiter delivered freshly made bread. Next, the head Sommelier came to assist with suggestions of Wines to match our menu selection.
After enjoying a delicious Santa Margherita Prosecco from Veneto we ordered our entrees and mains. My partner chose the Poached Western Australian Marron Tail. It tasted as fresh as it looked! Beautifully displayed like a work of art.
Poached Western Australian Marron Tail, Rockmelon, Prosciutto, Green Peas and Lime Aioli $38 - image credit: Seafarrwide
I was very happy with my choice of Pan Seared Sea Scallops, cauliflower soup, salmon caviar, silver beet, chilli crumbs and Bottarga. The caviar was delightful. It's important not to swallow the little jewels whole or you will miss the burst of ocean flavours. Snap the caviar balls gently with your teeth and roll some over your tongue with each bite. I had to close my eyes with each mouthful, the taste was heavenly.
Pan Seared Sea Scallops $32 - image credit: Seafarrwide
As we both love wine, we decided that rather than a bottle of wine we would have a different glass with each course. I have been to the Alsace wine region in France a couple of years ago and since then have become a fan of Riesling. The Mader Riesling had a tangy acidity with fruity undertones. It was the perfect choice to have with our entrees - by the glass $14.00.
Image credit - Seafarrwide
The mains were next, Pan roasted Lamb Rack with grilled Japanese eggplant, Edamame and wasabi puree, miso eggplant, garlic soy jus. My partner likes his meat medium to rare and after a sneak taste, I had to agree this dish was perfectly cooked. He chose a John Duval Entity Shiraz - by the glass $20.00.
Pan Roasted Lamb Rack $49 - image credit: Seafarrwide
I was very pleased with my delicious Glazed Duck Breast, Confit of Duck leg rillettes, Jerusalem artichoke puree, poached radish, pickled red cabbage and cardamom jus. I chose a Nevis Bluff Pinot Noir - by the glass $17.00.
Glazed Duck Breast $48.00 - image credit: Seafarrwide
The food was sensational. My partner knows I love food and he certainly picked a winning restaurant. I was smiling ear to ear.
I was so excited to have dessert. The Caramelized Fig with Butter Caramel Mousse, Brik pastry and sugared Pistachio was a foodgasm experience. I couldn't stop sighing after each blissful mouthful of sweetness.
My partner chose Young Ginger Brulee, Gingerbread, Poached Rhubarb, Wildflower Honeycomb Ice Cream. I had a taste and of course, it was delicious. I didn't dare share my exquisite dessert. We also had a glass each of Dessert Wine: Domain Plageoles Gaillac (Mauzac Roux) France $14.00 - by the glass.
Young Ginger Brulee $25.00 - image credit: Seafarrwide
It really was such a perfect day, delicious food, wonderful wines and exceptional service overlooking the stunning Sydney Harbour.
I totally recommend this restaurant if you want to impress your date or simply want to indulge in a truly wonderful dining experience. Keep in mind that if you wish to go to the next level, you could arrive or leave by Seaplane.
Sydney Seaplanes offer several packages for that special day out. Their Fly and Dine packages include a 15-minute flight over Sydney Harbour and iconic buildings and over pristine coastline and beaches before arriving at Catalina Restaurant for a 3-course gourmet meal for $350 per person, not including beverages.
Or how about arriving on board an Italian Classic Wooden Speedboat! La Dolce Vita is available for hire. Check out their website for more details. ladolcevitacruises.com.au/
Looks absolutely stunning, wanted to go there recently but read on the website that kids need to be seated at all times and that's an impossibility with mine! So we stick to the kid friendly ones. Great article.