This is The Dining Room by James Viles, with its awesome food and unsurpassed views

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Chilli crab with native XO sauce at The Dining Room by James Viles.

The Dining Room by James Viles at Park Hyatt in Sydney’s Circular Quay only opened in 2022 but it’s already making its mark as a go-to for great dining.

Culinary director James Viles (formerly of Biota Dining in Bowral), head chef Brian O’Flaherty (formerly of Quay) and their team are on to something good at one-hatted The Dining Room by Sydney Harbour.

They make excellent food, utilising fresh, seasonal ingredients including some of Australia’s lovely bush food.

Viles and O’Flaherty say they are inspired by Australia’s land and sea. “As the seasons are ever-changing, so do our menus. We are guided by mother nature: sustainability and cooking simply with the finest Australian ingredients.”

The cherry on top is The Dining Room’s location, featuring idyllic views of the Opera House and ferries sailing across the harbour.

The outlook at the Dining Room by James Viles in Sydney.
The outlook at the Dining Room by James Viles in Sydney.

The Dining Room by James Viles: Starters

We kick off our evening with a selection of bites. We enjoy steamed brioche with bresaola (air-dried salted beef), trout pastrami with sunflower pound cake, and paleta (shoulder of jamon cured meat) with truffle potato crisps.

Bites of trout pastrami, bresaola and paleta (jamon).
Bites of trout pastrami, bresaola and paleta (jamon shoulder).

The strong flavours of the assorted cured meats whet our appetites and we’re ready for our entrees. Mrs Two Chat Food orders finely sliced bonito sashimi for hers. A touch of nashi brings sweetness, shiso brings a herbaceous quality and roe brings saltiness. It has a delicate texture and the balance of flavours is just right.

We are guided by mother nature: sustainability and cooking simply with the finest Australian ingredients.

James Viles and Brian O’Flaherty

Our waiter and sommelier for the evening, Erick Tuesta, recommends the dry-aged rump tartare with homemade salt and vinegar potato crisps for Mr Two Chat Food. The tartare melts in the mouth, in fact, it’s almost like a dip for the crisps.

Rump tartare with homemade crisps and bonito sashimi with nasi, shiso and roe.
Dry-aged rump tartare (front) and bonito sashimi.

Mains

As soon as Mrs Two Chat Food spots the chilli crab with XO sauce on the mains menu, none of the other choices stand a chance. Mr Two Chat Food is partial to this dish too.

Out comes a full crab each, complete with a crab tool to make sure we can eat every last bit of flesh.

The dish is fantastic. The crab meat is soft and sweet and we can’t get enough of the umami-rich XO sauce. We enjoy dunking the meat in the XO sauce and sucking out every last piece from the shell. We love eating crab with our hands as it engages the senses more than eating pre-shelled shellfish with a knife and fork.

Chilli crab with XO sauce at The Dining Room by James Viles.
Chilli crab with native XO sauce at The Dining Room by James Viles.

However, for those who want to stick with utensils, The Dining Room has plenty of choices. In the realm of seafood, choose from dishes likes whole southern rock lobster with toasted seaweed butter or the week’s fish with green tomato and pickled peppers. There’s also maremma duck with a selection of condiments. Mains with land meat include whole tathra quail with cherry sauce and bitter leaves, rangers wagyu with marinated oyster mushrooms and pasture-fed, bone-in sirloin with jus. Vegetarian choices include grilled leeks with nut creme and raw peas and seaweed oil.

There are also several sides including salads, for example, crystal apple cucumber with black vinegar and hung yoghurt and BBQ carrots with charred carrot-top dressing.

But because The Dining Room favours seasonal dining, the menu does not stay the same for long.

Dessert

Mrs Two Chat Food skips out on dessert but Mr Two Chat Food devours a piquant baba (a small rum-flavoured French yeast cake dunked in syrup) with frozen pineapple and burnt pineapple custard, which complements the spicy, fresh main.

Rum baba with pineapple
Rum baba with pineapple

The Dining Room is unassuming, yet its knack for creating moreish dishes with seasonal, local, native food, its attentive, conscientious and knowledgeable waitstaff, its luxurious dining space and its breathtaking views puts this high on our list of desirable Sydney dining spots.


The Dining Room by James Viles
Park Hyatt Sydney, 7 Hickson Road, The Rocks, Sydney

Experience more culinary adventures at Two Chat Food and follow us on Instagram: @twochatfood.

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