Writer and photographer, driven by travel, unique people and new experiences.
Published June 3rd 2012
I arrived with my plus one at 6pm to explore the exquisitely decorated rooms and claim one of the red leather day beds closest to the stage. However, Boo (the bar manager) escorted us to a table in the dining room. We could see the stage from where we sat, as well as the baroque wall mural - it was perfect.
We browsed the drinks menu while Boo explained that Josh (director of marketing) and himself "focus on keeping the bar costs down so guests can enjoy an experience of trying new drinks, discovering their attributes, and leaving with some cash in their pockets". I don't know how they manage it with a menu consisting of carefully selected cocktails, award winning wines and fine scotch.
Scotch is a favourite at the bar, especially single malt. Boo is a believer that "single malt is how the distiller wants it to taste". Boo's knowledge and enthusiasm were obvious as he explained a fraction of the history behind a recent addition (The Dalmore 12 year old) to the single malt collection.
It was cold outside, so I opted for red wine which is unusual for me. Being a fussy red drinker, I looked for my favourite Tempranillo – but it wasn't on the menu. Boo suggested that if I liked the Tempranillo, I'd relish the Two Italian Boys' 2011 Sangiovese. He was right, it was amazing - easy to drink and full bodied with dark cherry, plum and vanilla flavours. It immediately superseded the Tempranillo as my favourite.
The floor manager Sam introduced himself and discussed the menu. He suggested we partake of the premium canapés which were circulating through the restaurant and bar, as they are part of the Thursday night package. They looked delicious, and I was hungry, but I didn't want to annihilate them before all the guests arrived. By the time the band started at 7.30pm, around 200 guests had made themselves comfortable.
The simple Australian menu is regularly revamped to keep it interesting and seasonal. Entrees start at $8.50 with field mushrooms stuffed with asparagus, inoki mushroom, thyme and parmesan cheese; mains start at $20 with 320g Black Angus sirloin steak, and sides are $7 each (except for the perfectly grilled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto which is $9.50). While the Australian selection is gratifying, Sam said "our vision is to have international cuisine in the near future". Sam was keen to discover our preferences and made recommendations based on our taste. Sam and his staff keep a close eye on us making sure all our needs are met.
Curiosity drives me to explore the venue before my entrée arrives. You enter into a luxurious room laid out with couches and leather arm chairs, velvety drapes, tasselled lampshades and a dark-red glass bar. As you turn the corner, you're greeted by a feature wall covered with Miss O'Murphy, the "Reclining Nude" (a Renaissance painting by Francois Baucher (1737)).
Reclining Nude wall mural by Francois Baucher (1737).
18th Century French chandeliers hang from ceiling rosettes and gilt mirrors reflect the baroque style in the dining and sitting and rooms. Fresh flowers and candles crowd the mantle. Fresh roses and gerberas decorate white clothed dining tables. Lounges and arm chairs are positioned beside the fireplace and earth-green organza shimmers across open balcony doors.
Fresh flowers and candles adorn the dining tables.
The furnishings are collaboratively designed and custom made. The result is a contemporary-baroque style that guests marvel at. Feng Shui principals are applied and its benefits are clear from the buzz created by unrestrained guests. Guests interact with complete strangers, openly and genuinely, and the vibe is light and fun. You can hear the conversations you're involved in, and you can also hear the styling of tonight's entertainment, George Washingmachine.
Thursday night is jazz night and tonight the multi-talented George Washingmachine is on show. George has hosted Jazz in The Domain, and The Darling Harbour Jazz Festival and presented concerts at The Thredbo Jazz Festival and the Taronga Park Zoo New Year's Eve Party. George said "I'm touring in late June at JazzAscona, It's nestled between Milan and Zurich. I'll be performing there for three weeks, but hope to be back here [at Dome] in August".
George Washingmachine playing jazz to an admiring audience.
Allison from Cronulla said "I'm not into jazz, but I know some of these tunes". I'm not really into jazz either, and you don't have to be to enjoy George. He is an apt violinist and singer with a penchant for stringed instruments. He plays his own versions of well-known tunes including songs by Cole Porter and Frank Sinatra. Others you might know from classic Rat Pack films.
It wasn't long before my entrée arrived. Grilled tiger prawns tossed in chilli, garlic and sesame paste. It wasn't at all pasty, and the chilli was very mild. My plus one had the lamb kofta with saffron yogurt raita. The raita didn't arrive with the kofta, but the kofta's tantalising flavours of slight mint and rosemary meant it vanished before the raita had a chance.
The main was a 320g Black Angus sirloin with a side of seasonal vegetables. If you like medium-rare, ask for medium with this one. The tender carrot, broccoli and zucchini have a delicate butter flavour. Plus one had the pork belly. The meat was tender, the crackling was crispy, with a lovely combination of kumara, peas and poached apple. Famous Australian racing car driver, Allan Shephard, was dining next to us and said "I'll definitely be back. The venue is great and it's really good pub tucker". Dessert wasn't on the menu thankfully - I was satiated by the healthy fare and did not want to have to negotiate cake. Next time I won't gorge, and try the tempting bar snacks.
After dinner I spoke with Josh again who said "the restaurant isn't open Friday and Saturday nights. Friday night is burlesque night [a major drawcard] and Saturday night is for functions [mainly birthday parties]". They also have singles nights [you'll need to request information via Dome's website].
The band finished at 10.30pm and the guests cordially departed the venue, thanking their hosts for their hospitality and generosity. My plus one and I thoroughly enjoyed the intimate setting and service, the food, wine and entertainment.
George Washingmachine at the bar before departing.
You could easily walk right past the Crown Hotel and not know this gem exists - Dome is on Level 1. The staff are genial and offer a personalised service. For special events, they can work with you to create a unique cocktail for the occasion, or alter any beverage package to suit your budget.
I highly recommend you experience Dome, and if you fall in love with it you can become a member and receive special offers.
The Dome Bar gives what I've not found anywhere else in Sydney: plush surroundings, the best of Australia's jazz scene and food excellently prepared - its just a case of having my night-life experience elevated on every trip.